Irvine, CA"January 2, 2001"Top NHRA drag racer Mike Dunn will hit the racing circuit in 2001 seeing clearly without glasses or contacts, thanks to world-renowned ophthalmologist Dr. Robert K. Maloney, who will perform laser vision correction surgery on the top fuel driver on Friday, January 5, 2000, at 3:00 p.m. at the Maloney-Lusby Vision Institute (MLVI) in Irvine. This surgery will mark the official opening of MLVI.
Dunn, 43, who recently signed a high-profile contract to drive the "Yankee Top Fuel Dragster," owned by top fuel veteran Darrell Gwynn and drag racing newcomer George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, the New Jersey Nets, and the New Jersey Devils, has been considering LASIK surgery for some time.
"When I'm racing, I use contacts, sometimes disposable lenses, and they don't seem right; I'm uncomfortable with them," says Dunn. "My eyes are no different than a baseball player's"a hundredth of a second can mean a difference."
Dr. Maloney, a Rhodes Scholar, has performed more than 19,000 vision correction procedures. He founded the laser refractive center at the Jules Stein Institute at UCLA, and served as associate professor of ophthalmology at the UCLA School of Medicine before founding the Maloney Vision Institute in Los Angeles, and co-founding the Maloney-Lusby Vision Institute in Orange County. He has performed LASIK surgery on such well-known sports personalities as Jose Offerman of the Boston Red Sox, and LeShon Johnson of the New York Giants.
LASIK eye surgery involves using a special blade to create a small flap in the cornea, and then reshaping the cornea with a state-of-the-art excimer laser. In the hands of an experienced surgeon, the procedure is virtually painless, and most patients return to work the next day.
In Dunn's case, however, "work" involves accelerating from 0 to 320 mph in approximately 4-1/2 seconds, and enduring 4-5 g forces pushing on his body as his car takes off. Mike's new vision will be put to the test on February 1, 2001, as he heads to Pomona for the AutoZone Winternationals.
"An athlete such as Mike, for whom keen vision is critical, can benefit significantly from the lasik procedure," says Dr. Maloney. "We anticipate both improving Mike's comfort and achieving results that will have a positive impact on his racing career."
Dunn, Car Craft magazine's Driver of the Year for 1999, has 20 career national event wins, was the first funny car driver to surpass the 280 mph mark, and lowered the NHRA top fuel national elapsed time to 4.503 seconds at the 1999 Winternationals in Pomona.
- Joan Kerr