2.26.2005

Making a deal with the Devil: Steroids ruins eyesight, perhaps permanently

[Note: cut this from steroid post as I thought I should make it a standalone post then I added more to the end]

Something very newsworthy on the steroid and another performance enhancing drug, High Growth Hormone. In a San Jose Mercury interview with an ophthalmologist from Stanford, he says that there is no evidence that steroids or human growth hormone improves eyesight; if anything, "steroids would tend to cause someone's eyesight to decrease if they are taken for a long period of time." According to the doctor, Dr. Blumenkranz, steroids have been linked to glaucoma and cataracts and, in susceptible people, the former could surface in six months, the latter in one or two years. And HGH "has been shown to hurt vision in some patients." The interview ended with "It's very unlikely that [a player] sees the ball better or can make contact better.

Linking the dots, if you'll recall, a baseball player famously retired after a career of superhuman feats when glaucoma suddenly took his sight: Kirby Puckett. Of course, his body is not a poster child for steroids but I do recall the shock of finding out that such a young person came down suddenly with glaucoma. Not that that couldn't happen, but in this environment of questioning athletes' performances, it would explain his sudden condition. And as we found out from his long-time mistress and his ex-wife, he was not the cuddly kind athlete that was projected and promoted as his image, he was something much less, much more human than could be imagined.

In any case, this is very interesting news because if shrunken scrotum and death is not enough to scare off athletes from high performance drugs, perhaps blindness or impaired vision will. Smaller balls you probably don't notice on a day to day basis and death, well, you're dead. But if you are blind or cannot see clearly for the rest of your life, which, with their wealth and physical conditioning, they should last at least another 50 years or so after their last pitch or at-bat, I would think that that could be the straw to break the camels back for young athletes tempted to use the drug.

With apologies to those without good sight (which I include myself among those, I'm like 20-600 or something), I don't see how they can handle life without sight. Their wealth could not replace that experience of seeing and doing things requiring sight. They would be helpless without assistance unless they can get over their ego and learn to do things unsighted.

I know that I would be totally lost without my glasses. That's why I don't complain about them like some other people do. I realize what the alternative is and appreciate what they do for me, particularly allowing me to read, which I greatly enjoy doing.

Not that I'm dissing blind people, if that's what anyone is thinking. I admire the will and discipline necessarily to overcome their disability. And I hope that I would answer the bell in such a courageous fashion if I were to ever become like that. Likewise, it is something I would not want nor wish it upon my enemies.

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