COLLINGWOOD forward Mason Cox is set to wear prescription sunglasses in games this season after trialling the eyewear over the pre-season.
The American has endured a horror run with career-threatening eye injuries, requiring six different surgeries – three on his left eye, two on his right, plus cataract surgery – in the past three years.
AFL.com.au understands the AFL will need to approve the eyewear before Cox can wear them in matches in 2022.
The 30-year-old is planning to wear the sunglasses during day games and could wear them at night given the floodlights at the MCG and other grounds around the country.
Cox first required eye surgery in 2019 after an accidental poke from then Gold Coast ruckman Peter Wright resulted in a torn retina. It was during that operation that surgeons discovered his other retina was also detached, following an incident in a contest against West Coast defender Tom Barrass in the 2018 Toyota AFL Grand Final loss against West Coast.
The two surgeries left Cox practically legally blind for a short period in 2019, where he had to spend two weeks in a dark room positioned on his back for 45 minutes of every hour, unable to move or watch TV or use his phone.
Cox has been left long-sighted in his left eye and has found the sunglasses more effective in the past couple of months, after using contacts in 2020 and 2021.
While prescription eyewear is far more common in the NBA with some iconic players like Horace Grant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and, more recently, Anthony Davis wearing goggles, it hasn't been a thing in the AFL.
Only two businesses in Australia specialise in sports prescription eyewear, with Cox's sunglasses coming from Eye Sports in Colac where owner John Carbury has been supplying prescription inserts for sportspeople since the 1990s.
It is safe to say Cox has already copped plenty of banter from his Collingwood teammates and is expecting lots of feedback from opponents and fans in 2022.
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Cox isn't the only Collingwood player who needs to wear prescription eyewear to play football. The Magpies signed basketball convert Bassirou Faye to an international rookie scholarship last April, much to the shock of many in the football world.
The 202cm ruck prospect had impressed the Oakleigh Chargers in trial games last pre-season but was forced to return to Senegal due to via constraints. He has since returned to Australia, joined the Magpies and has stood out on the track with his prescription sunglasses.
Cox was forced to wait until the end of October before being offered a one-year contract extension by Collingwood head of football Graham Wright.
The 211cm spearhead and his manager Liam Pickering agreed to terms with the Magpies while Cox was travelling in New York during his off-season break.
After adding only seven games last year to take his career tally to 76, Cox will be hoping to return to the senior set-up under Craig McRae.
Collingwood's new coach taught him how to kick a football and the fundamentals of the game when he first arrived in Melbourne in 2015.