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About one of three current U.S Ski Team downhillers wears corrective eyewear. Of those, virtually all wear contact lenses. Surprisingly, very few have had PRK corrective surgery. Here are a few reasons why: n Until recently the only corrective surgery available was Radial Keratotomy (RK), a process that was never recommended for athletes since it involves a series of incisions that weaken the cornea. Availability of the new laser procedure is just now starting to grow. n The FDA requires that patients be at least 21 to undergo this procedure. n It’s new, and awareness is not widespread. n At first glance, it’s expensive. Laser surgery costs $3,000 to $4,000, but compared to the maintenance costs of wearing contact lenses (about $5,220 for 10 years), many skiers are opening their eyes to the procedure.
It looks like water, it tastes like water, but it claims to be a whole new beast. New Life O2 by Life Technologies has seven times as much oxygen as standard water. Which is good news for skiers, who often find themselves at high altitude where oxygen is thinner. In a study conducted by Life Technologies involving 25 marathon runners, 83 percent had faster times after drinking the super water. But all the hype does have its critics. “Research shows that adding oxygen to a finely tuned athlete doesn’t make a better athlete,” says Peter Gerbino, orthopedic surgeon at the University of Cincinnati. “If you’re experiencing shortness of breath at altitude and this truly delivers oxygen, it may work. But if it really worked, people would be gulping it constantly.”
Sunning By The Numbers
The sun is your skin’s worst enemy, even in winter. “When you’re skiing at altitude, sun protection is critical,” says Dr. Darrell Rigel, dermatologist and skin cancer researcher. Of the many types of protection on the shelves, Rigel says non-alcohol-based sunscreens are best (alcohol is drying and potentially harmful). For most people, an SPF of 15, which blocks 90 percent of the sun’s rays, will do the job. Fair-skinned skiers might opt for an SPF 30 sunscreen (blocks 97 percent). Beyond 30, Rigel says, increased SPF becomes moot. “You’re getting so close to 100 percent that, once you go beyond an SPF of 30, you’re probably wasting your money.”