Local Eye Doctors Volunteer Services for Tampa Bay Rays

2013, Feeling Fit, SUN Newspapers

90 percent of work-related eye injuries can be  avoided by wearing eye protection
In 2013 Dr. Neil Zusman screened
Tamp Bay Rays players for vision problems
and checked their visual acuity.

Dr. Neil Zusman and colleagues performed eye-screening exams on the Tampa Bay Rays during spring training at the Charlotte Sports Park. "Healthy eyes and excellent visual acuity are essential for an athlete to perform at the major league level. One can imagine how accurate the player's vision must be to follow a hard ball coming at them at 100 miles per hour, whether it's in the batter's box or in the field," according to Dr. Zusman. Close to 70 players were pushed to see if their vision exceeded the normal 20/20 level. Many of the Rays had 20/15 or better vision and two players had 20/10 vision!

In 2013, new technology was offered thanks to Taaron Medley with Heidelberg Engineering. Taaron performed a detailed scan of each player's retina and optic nerve with state of the art Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). Dr. Marc Levy, neuro-ophthalmologist from Sarasota, sat with each player and discussed the findings, as they were able to look at a computer monitor and see crystal-clear images of the back of their eyes!

"To our knowledge this technology has only been used once [prior to 2013] to screen Major League baseball players," according to Zusman. "The exquisite details amazed the players and are useful in screening for eye disease," he added.

Local optometrist, Doug Radish, brought a state of the art machine to check eye pressures. Fortunately, no excessive high pressures that could indicate glaucoma were noted.
"Fans may recall the talented Kirby Puckett from the Minnesota Twins whose career was ended due to blindness in one eye from glaucoma complications," states Zusman. "Unfortunately he wasn't checked for this treatable disease even though he had a positive family history. As a result, we are trying to set the highest standard for all professional athletes in regards to vision and eye health screening."

Dr. Jody Abrams, neuro-ophthalmologist from Sarasota, also assisted with testing depth perception, color vision, eye alignment and motility.

Doctors Jon Mines and Mark Sibley were gracious enough to come from Clearwater and St. Petersburg to assist with the exams at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning!

Any players with unusual findings or suboptimal vision are referred to Zusman Eye Care Center for further evaluation.

Zusman worked with the Texas Rangers for years when the team came to Port Charlotte for spring training.

"It's fun to get to know the players and at the same time provide a needed service. The athletes are very nice and appreciative as well!" said Zusman.

Zusman Eye Care Center is a state of the art facility providing a variety of services ranging from routine eye exams to medical and surgical treatment of eye disease. Dr. Zusman specializes in no stitch, no needle, no patch cataract surgery under topical anesthesia. He also performs laser surgery and eyelid surgery. Additional interests include glaucoma, diabetes, macular degeneration and the diagnosis and treatment of ocular trauma/injuries.

Neil B. Zusman, M.D., FACS is a board-certified ophthalmologist who has been practicing in Charlotte County for 30 years. His office is located at Harbor Professional Centre, 3430 Tamiami Trail, Suite A, Port Charlotte. Patients are welcome to call 941-624-4500 for an eye evaluation.