A Theory On The Cause Of McCann's Prolonged Slump

Hello again everyone from sunny Southeast Michigan, where it’s starting to look like the weather is going to skip Fall and head straight to Winter. Yes, believe it or not the lows the last two nights here have dipped into the 40’s! Sunny and cold! I like half of that equation, at least.

One equation that I haven’t liked even half of lately is any equation derived from Brian McCann‘s hitting. Perhaps things have started to turn around the last couple of games, and I certainly hope that’s the case. If so, then this whole line of thought is probably moot. If not, it might perhaps be worth considering.

First of all, let me say that I have no hard evidence to support this theory. In fact, the closest thing to evidence is empirical and comes from watching Brian hit on MLB.TV. I do, however, have personal experience with the problem I’m going to hypothesize might be happening to Brian.

As background, McCann had a Lasik procedure done on each of his eyes between the 2009 and 2010 seasons to correct what I believe was a nearsighted condition. Lasik is a procedure involving the use of pulses of laser light to reshape the cornea, which in turn improves vision and reduces or eliminates the need to wear contacts or eyeglasses. The results can be dramatic. Persons who can barely see the “E” at the top of the eye-chart have been corrected to 20/20 or better vision. Unfortunately, though, not all results are perfect. There can be a whole host of residual effects, with the most common ones being dry eyes, distorted night vision, halos, and even irregular astigmatism, which can result in really unusual vision patterns that resemble ghosting or other patterns similar to the prism effect you can get when swimming and you look through water in your eye. For an in-depth look at lasik and the positive and not-so-positive outcomes, I suggest you visit the “VSRN” website via this link.
It’s obvious at this point that I am suggesting that McCann could be struggling with his vision, maybe even without conscious knowledge. Those of you who have even tried to hit a pitch thrown by even a minor league pitcher would probably not disagree with the conclusion that it’s the hardest athletic feat known to man (or at least one of the hardest). To attempt to do this without quality vision would seem to me to be close to impossible.

Now I want you to think back to what you have seen Brian do when he’s hitting. How many times have you seen him squinting? How many times have you seen him rapidly blinking, or tightly closing then opening his eyes like he’s trying to get something out of an eye? How often does he act like he has sweat in an eye? I’ve seen him do all of these things, but until I started thinking about this slump I really hadn’t given it a lot of thought.

Let’s also think about what we do know. We know that Brian has had vision problems since the surgery. We know that he has suffered from dry eyes, which can cause erratic and distorted vision (contrary to most people’s thinking that this is just a comfort thing). We also know that he believed he had his vision under control, citing a change in diet.

This is where my experience comes in. I had Lasik done years ago. One of my eyes turned out perfect. The other has been a struggle. I have battled dry eye. And the cornea in that eye was damaged by the surgery (the irregular astigmatism condition that I alluded to earlier), a problem that requires that I wear an RGP “hard” contact lens; not even eyeglasses can correct my vision in this eye. I can also tell you that, in mild cases, you can even test 20/20 or better yet still have serious “real world” vision problems that an eye-chart can’t find. I can also tell you that a gradual or mild deterioration is very hard for the “patient” to detect on their own.

So, what I’m saying is this: even if there is nothing wrong with Brian’s vision today, based on his circumstances he is a prime candidate for a problem to show up at some point. The cornea will continue to evolve, and in those cases where there have been post-surgery complications, the percentages increase for there to be more problems. And the patient cannot always detect these changes until the impact gets worse. Given all this and the problems that Brian has been having at the plate, I would strongly suggest that Brian be given a battery of in-depth testing, including corneal mapping, now. If there is a problem, there are things that can be done short-term to improve his symptoms. And, if there are no problems, then this can be checked off the list. But, by all means, don’t go by what Brian, or even an optometrist reading eye charts, thinks. Use a specialist. The testing is quick and the results are also!

That’s the way I see this one (ha! A twist on the “my take” line!). Anyone see this differently?

Tags: Atlanta Braves Braves Brian Mccann

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