It might not be a noticeable change – not in normal lighting, anyways – but Bryce Harper believes it could make a significant difference for him in 2019.
The Philadelphia Phillies outfielder has started wearing new transition contact lenses in the weeks and months leading up to Opening Day, utilizing technology that adapts to changing light and is designed to minimize the effects of bright light on the eye. The photochromic technology has long been used in transition glasses, which darken when exposed to sunlight, but it's new to contact lenses.
"It’s a little trippy, where my eyes go from blue to brown when I go outside," Harper told USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview Wednesday. "But for me, it’s a one-of-a-kind product this offseason, being able to be one of the first (people) to use it – especially as a baseball player where my vision is huge for me."
Harper spoke to USA TODAY Sports as part of an endorsement deal with the contact lens brand, ACUVUE OASYS with Transitions.
Harper said he's long needed contact lenses to correct his vision and has worn them since eighth grade, but they've given him issues in the past. The Washington Post reported in 2011 that contacts gave Harper headaches in high school, and when he joined the Washington Nationals a few years later, a team optometrist was shocked to discover that the teenage slugger was "blind as a bat."
"I was absolutely blind," Harper confirmed Wednesday with a laugh. "(It was) pretty bad."
The 26-year-old said he's been able to find more comfortable lenses in recent years, though he did take a few at-bats in regular glasses during a game last season after struggling to get his contacts in. And when Acuvue approached him during the offseason about a lense that might better help him deal with bright lights, he said he was "kind of hooked" and wanted to give them a try.