Are we allowed to proactively give our players eye exams?

Submitted by iawolve on August 25th, 2010 at 12:48 PM

I assume there this is something that is provided via insurance through the university. Just reading how Stonum couldn't see deep balls, has an astigmatism (!). Thanks for the note three years later. RoundTree spent a year needing glasses before he finally got them. This seems like one of those basic things we should test with all of our players when they show up as freshmen. Is there a rule against doing something like this?



August 25th, 2010 at 12:50 PM ^

I assume there this is something that is provided via insurance through the university.

I can't speak for the student athletes (they might have something included with their injury coverage), but when I went to UHS I had to pay out of pocket for an eye exam/glasses.


August 25th, 2010 at 1:01 PM ^

This was brought up 2 weeks ago when this news broke.  All of the players are given an eye exam as part of their physical.   Obviously his eyes have gotten a lot worse or he was able to fake it good enough the last time and get by.


August 25th, 2010 at 1:03 PM ^

The physical for an athlete is pretty basic and is just provided as a precaution.  It is not designed to find stuff.
  And IIRC, an eye exam is not part of it.

So, to answer your question:  no.  It's up to coaches and teammates to notice the symptoms of poor eyesight, and then it's up to the athlete to get it checked out and taken care of.


August 25th, 2010 at 1:18 PM ^

I played lacrosse in college. They always gave a vision test before our season as part of our physical. It is basic. They "test" for heart conditions also but its not thorough. Even if the vision score is low it usually wasn't reported to anyone. I remember our goalie thought he saw a smiley face and an asterisk on the chart when it was all letters and it was never reported to our coach or head trainer. He could still save the ball well though.

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August 25th, 2010 at 1:12 PM ^

A basic eye exam is usually involved in any athlete's physical, and concerns for vision problems should warrant a referral for a complete eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist (I'm a resident at UofM and have done pre-screening physicals, but no, not for UofM's athletes).


August 25th, 2010 at 1:14 PM ^

It is a nice fluff story to talk about how great it is that he can see now, but I agree - why the hell didn't this get discovered earlier? 

Heck, my 6-year old is required to have an up-to-date eye exam to enter FIRST GRADE!!!  This kid is getting a full-ride scholarship because of his ability to catch the football.  You'd think that would come with some fundamental physical exams - heart, eye, and baseline brain function for concussions. 

I'm starting to wonder if James Whitley and Todd Howard would have been all-americans if they had eye exams. 


August 25th, 2010 at 1:22 PM ^

When I was in school, eye exams were not part of the physical for athletes. We would always go out drinking the night before so when they took our pulse/blood pressure they'd have a hell of a time.

As for the insurance... The university has doctors that athletes can see and the athletes insurance company will be billed. Whatever they don't cover, the University does.


August 25th, 2010 at 1:43 PM ^

A basic eye exam is really just a vision test.  You read the lowest line you can while the examiner isn't really paying attention, then they flash lights on each side and you're supposed to say if it's right or left.  Astigmatism is much tougher to evaluate with these exams.  I had pretty bad astigmatism and, particularly at night or in the dark, seeing things from a distance was very difficult.  Soccer and flag-football were tough b/c the fields are so big.  Basketball and volleyball, not so much.  I eventually had LASIK and not surprisingly, those sports became much more vivid for me.  I almost described the feeling to my friends the same way Stonum did.  Just seeing the ball come off someone's foot or out of the QB's hands was a sight for sore eyes, pun intended.

I hope players get more rigorous eye exams from here forward.  It actually should be deemed a safety issue, since some of these guys shouldn't be driving without contacts or glasses, and punt returners should be able to see who's about to spike them.


August 25th, 2010 at 2:31 PM ^

I have an astigmatism and had similar problems, and amusingly had problems tracking the ball in the air without contacts, but the problem persisted somewhat even with glasses because things were easily to see but still 2D-ish. If I recall correctly Stonum had the physical skills but was woeful with tracking the ball in the air. If it's anything like I experienced he'll be deadly now, I know what kind of enormous difference it made for me. Difficult to completely describe but definitely a fantastic difference for sports, and hopefully it'll serve him this year and next and he can be the next great.


August 25th, 2010 at 9:49 PM ^

If you're going to a retail optical store, you may just get a basic eye exam.  Many optometrists (primary care eye doctors) will now conduct more thorough exams with dilation, checking the health of the retina and the back of the eye.  To determine a prescription, eye care professionals (optometrists and ophthalmologists) can use subjective (through the phoropter... "which one looks better") and objective (retinascopy) tests to determine how much sphere and/or cylinder (which is what an astigmatism needs) is necessary in a particular Rx.  Either way, these guys don't need the "works" at their eye checkups.  Any professional that can measure visual acuities most likely will be able to help them with their prescriptions.


August 25th, 2010 at 3:55 PM ^


As others have said, everyone gets a physical from the training staff at the University before they can start fall practice.  [I'm not a lawyer, but this has to be a liability issue.]  They do the standard "cover your eye and read as low as you can on this switch eyes" test.  I would also agree that this probably does a poor to horrible job of evaluating things like astigmatism and other eye problems more complicated than nearsightedness (myopia iirc).