June 27, 2011 at 5:30 PM ET
Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton is blaming his lousy daytime batting average -- less than a third of his nighttime average this season -- on his baby blues.
He claims his blue eyes are super-sensitive to sunlight.
I’m not sure I buy it. After all, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., he of the palest of pale blue eyes (be still, my heart) actually hit slightly better during the day over his career.
Dr. Calvin G. Eshbaugh, whose 13-year-old son worships Josh Hamilton, by the way, thinks there may be something to the claim.
“The deal is, if someone has less pigment in their iris, they could potentially be more sensitive to sunlight,” although not every blue-eyed person would be equally affected, says Eshbaugh, vice-chair of clinical affairs in ophthalmology at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas. There are other factors involved in light sensitivity besides eye color, he says, such as the density of rods and cones — the light receptors — in your retina.
Maybe Ripken wasn’t as sensitive and benefited from what Eshbaugh calls the pinhole effect (remember making pinhole cameras in grade school?). Everybody sees better when they squint. Well, when you stand in bright sunlight, your pupil shrinks down to a pinhole.
We do have some suggestions that might help improve Hamilton’s performance on sunny days: Heard of sunglasses? What about that black stuff athletes like to smear under their eyes to reduce glare? A wide-brimmed batting helmet, perhaps?
Or maybe Hamilton could try to get traded to the Seattle Mariners.
Do you have blue eyes? Are they extra-sensitive to sunlight? Tell us your blues in the comments area.