Collingwood’s ‘American Pie’ Mason Cox hopes to be granted permission by the AFL to wear prescription sunglasses during matches this season, as he continues to recover from a series of serious eye issues.
The 30-year old has undergone six different surgeries across both eyes since being accidentally poked during a match in 2019, which left him legally blind for a period later that year.
He has since returned to play for the Magpies, and has used the new-look eyewear throughout the club’s pre-season, with encouraging results.
Cox plans to wear the sunglasses, made by Eye Sports in Colac, during day games and night matches at particularly floodlit grounds such as the MCG.
Cox, who is longsighted in his left eye as a result of the injuries, is said to prefer the sunglasses to contact lenses, which he has used across the last two seasons.
He first required eye surgery after an accidental poke from Gold Coast’s Peter Wright. Bizarrely, during that operation his surgeons discovered the retina in his other eye was also detached, thought to stem from an incident during the Pies’ 2018 grand final loss to West Coast.
“In the first quarter there was a moment where [Eagles defender] Tom Barrass poked me in the eye. I found out about a year and half later when I got an injury in my other eye that I’d suffered a detached retina in the Grand Final,” Cox told AthletesVoice in September last year.
Surgery on both eyes left Cox legally blind and needing to spend two weeks in a dark room on his back.
Prescription eyewear is common in the NBA, with stars such as Anthony Davis wearing goggles during matches.
However, Cox would be the first player to require a pair in the AFL, though rookie teammate Bassirou Faye, who hails from Senegal also requires sunglasses.
Cox managed only seven games in 2021, but was handed a further one-year contract by the club and hopes to regain his spot in the Pies’ best 22 under new coach Craig McRae.
“McRae is the first coach I had in Australia, and he is one of the main reasons I was successful,” Cox told AthletesVoice of his new coach.
“His genuine care and way he went about it, without that I would have never been in the position I am today and had the experiences I’ve had.”
Cox has played 76 games for the Magpies since making his debut in 2016, kicking 93 goals. His career highlight came in the 2018 preliminary final, when he was famously best afield as the Pies stunned reigning premiers Richmond.