Tommy Pham‘s eyesight has been a much talked about topic of conversation since he debuted. Pham broke out in a huge way in 2017. After being sent down to Memphis in spring training he got the call to the big leagues in early May and he made the most of it. In just 128 games he put up a 5.9 fWAR, the 10th highest of any position player in the major leagues.
What makes this even more amazing is the fact that Pham struggles with an eye condition called Keratoconus. Here is the definition of the disorder from aao.org:
“Your cornea is the clear, dome-shaped window at the front of your eye. It focuses light into your eye. Keratoconus is when the cornea thins out and bulges like a cone. Changing the shape of the cornea brings light rays out of focus. As a result, your vision is blurry and distorted, making daily tasks like reading or driving difficult.”
We’ve often wonder if his eye condition could cause more issues for him in the future. Pham cleared the situation up for us in his media interview on Sunday. Here was what he had to say:
“My vision is good. Let me try to make it real simple. In 2016 I had doctors who reached out to me and they said for Keratoconus we have new lenses for you. We have an advancement in the keratoconus field with these new lenses. I said great, I need to try them out. It was a big financial commitment for me because at the time none of this was FDA approved so I went with these new lenses because the doctors said it’s gonna make you see better. So huh. They did make me see better actually I just wasn’t able to play better with them. I was able to achieve 20/15 vision in my left eye and that’s something that I’ve never been able to achieve with my normal gas permeable lenses. And at the end of the season I ended up having a lost season so to say because of the vision and I didn’t want to give up on the lenses because of the financial commitment I spent on them. But at the end of the season I went back to my doctors and I said we need to go back to the gas perms so that’s what we did. We went back to the lenses I’ve always worn from 2009-15 and then of course last season.”
According to Pham the only time his vision truly became a big issue for him was the 2016 season and it shows in the numbers. While he was in the majors he struck out at a 38.8% rate. His highest rate at any other time in his career was 23.7% in 2015.
To me, this sounds like good news. It doesn’t sound like the eye issue is so much of an issue moving forward. He’s still using the lenses that he got to the major leagues with and that allowed him to have an MVP type season in 2017.
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