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The Refractive Error of Professional Baseball Players

Laby, Daniel M.*; Kirschen, David G.

Optometry and Vision Science: May 2017 - Volume 94 - Issue 5 - p 564–573
doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001067

Purpose High levels of visual acuity are required to hit a baseball effectively. Research has shown that any decrease in vision is likely caused by low-order optical aberrations. This study is designed to validate the SVOne autorefractor, and describe the amount and type, of low-order optical aberrations present in a large cohort of professional baseball players.

Methods A retrospective chart review on the 608 Major League Baseball players evaluated during the 2016 Spring Training Season was performed. Results for a subset of players who had both manifest refraction as well as autorefraction were calculated. Subsequently, after determining the accuracy of the autorefraction system in this population, refractive results for the entire population were determined.

Results There was a borderline statistically significant difference in mean spherical refractive error (M) between the manifest refraction and the SVOne auto refraction (−0.273D in the manifest refraction method vs. −0.503D in the SVOne method, P = .06) in the subset of athletes who underwent both tests. Additionally, there was no difference in the J0 or J45 cylindrical component vectors for each method. For the entire eligible population, the SVOne autorefraction system found a mean spherical refractive error (M) of −0.228D, a J0 value of −0.013D, and a J45 value of −0.040D.

Conclusions These data suggest that the SVOne autorefraction system is generally able to measure the refractive error in the baseball population. The system was slightly biased, often reporting more myopia in myopic subjects. Thus, careful evaluation of the refractive status of these athletes coupled with careful subjective refractive correction for those with less than average vision for baseball is strongly suggested.



Sports and Performance Vision Center, State University of New York College of Optometry, New York, New York (DML); Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall Ketchum University, Fullerton, California (DGK); and Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California (DGK).

Daniel M. Laby, Sports and Performance Vision Center, SUNY College of Optometry, 33 West 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, e-mail:

© 2017 American Academy of Optometry