January 2015




Batting 1,000 with LASIK for top athletes

by Maxine Lipner EyeWorld Senior Contributing Writer


Wrestler Dwayne Johnson, also known as The Rock, with Dr. Lessner after undergoing LASIK surgery Source: Cory M. Lessner, MD

Cory M. Lessner, MD, has performed state-of-the-art LASIK on many top-tier athletes

While Cory M. Lessner, MD, president and CEO of Millennium Laser Eye Centers and SightTrust Eye Institute, Sunrise, Fla., has been an ardent sports fan for most of his life, in recent years he has been watching teams such as the Florida Panthers, the Miami Heat, the Miami Dolphins, and the Miami Marlins with a particularly keen interest. This is because Dr. Lessner has served as the official laser vision correction specialist for these high-profile franchises, preforming state-of-the-art LASIK on many of their top-tier athletes such as NBA standout Dwyane Wade, professional ice hockey goal tender Roberto Luongo, and NFL running back Ronnie Brown.

Dr. Lessner has performed LASIK on about 60 professional athletes, as well as 80 executives and coaches within these organizations. Dr. Lessner does not take credit for improvements in athletic performance, but the players themselves often comment on the difference LASIK has made for them. In baseball the batters will tell me that after the procedure they can see the laces on the ball and can tell whether its a fastball and make an adjustment, which is something they may not be able to do otherwise, Dr. Lessner said.

In his dugout

One of the first players treated by Dr. Lessner was Jeff Conine of the Florida Marlins baseball team. After the surgery, when Dr. Lessner considered the number of strikeouts on Mr. Conines record compared to before, he detected a marked difference. Interestingly, Jeff struck out about 30% less (1 in 7 vs. 1 in 5) in the 5 years following the surgery than he did in the 5 years before, confirming his assertions that he was seeing better and making better contact with the ball, Dr. Lessner said.

While Mr. Conine was the first professional athlete Dr. Lessner treated, at the time he did not have any specific arrangements with the team itself. The first team he had an official deal with was the Miami Dolphins. The offensive coordinator, Kippy Brown, was a neighbor of mine, Dr. Lessner said. He knew what I was doing, so he brought to our grand opening Dave Wannstedt, the coach of the Dolphins, and Kevin ONeill, the trainer. When Dr. Lessner showed them his state-of-the-art LASIK facility, they said they had football players who would be interested in having the procedure. At the end of the season, 5 of their players came in for LASIK, Dr. Lessner said. The Florida Panthers ice hockey team was next. Members of the organization invited Dr. Lessner to become part of their official medical team as a vision correction specialist. As a corporate partner, Dr. Lessner has provided laser vision correction services to top executives, players, and other members within the Panthers organization. I dont believe in quid pro quo with regard to testimonials. If a player doesnt whole-heartedly believe that the procedure has helped his game, he shouldnt be compelled to promote the process, Dr. Lessner said.

Use of team logo rights is the main part of the remuneration. Team logo rights are extremely expensive and because of collective bargaining agreements, players can choose to go anywhere they want for their medical services. Having the office title does not guarantee that the players will come to you, Dr. Lessner said. Teams will typically include a program ad and some in-game promotions in our agreements. Tickets to the games round out the package. Going to most games as a fan affords me the opportunity to meet with other captains of business and entertain the doctors who look to me to provide LASIK services to their patients. After the Panthers, Dr. Lessner was approached by the Marlins, a team he has been working with for about 11 years now. He started working with the Heat about a year later. Over the past 10 years, I performed surgery on Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, the Heats CEO, CFO, corporate council, and dozens of others within the organization, he said. Although still a diehard fan, Dr. Lessner allowed his contract with the team to expire last year because he realized he had already made a substantial contribution to this high-powered basketball team, who could still continue to see him as needed if they chose.

Sporting high-powered equipment

From the start, Dr. Lessner has been confident in treating top-tier athletes, recognizing that the procedure he offers uniformly delivers excellent results with the right equipment. He even streams live video of the procedures from his website, www.havelasik.com. I feel very comfortable and have been streaming these procedures live on the Internet for 2 years now, he said. We stream live in real time because Im trying to show people that modern LASIK is not what theyve heard about in the pastthat its safer than contact lenses. Treating athletes does raise the bar a bit. If The Rock (wrestler Dwayne Johnson) is 20/25 or 20/20, its not going to matter, but if Roberto Luongo cant see the puck coming, theres going to be a problem, Dr. Lessner said. Still, if a celebrity is unhappy, they may share their story on social media, which Dr. Lessner said is the antithesis of what he is trying to attain with streaming LASIK. However, celebrities can also use social media to create a positive message.

A couple of years ago, Dr. Lessner bumped into Josh Samuda, who had been playing for the Dolphins. About a month later Josh Samuda tweeted, It has been 2 years and Im still seeing amazing, Dr. Lessner said. Some cynic tweeted, How much did they pay you to do that? and he wrote back, They didnt pay me anything Im just so happy with what they did.

Contact information

Lessner: Clessner@havelasik.com

Batting 1,000 with LASIK for top athletes Batting 1,000 with LASIK for top athletes
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