There is a lot more to vision than simply seeing clearly. How well you play your sport is influenced by several interconnected vision skills. Just as exercising and practice can boost your speed and energy, they also can improve your visible fitness and accuracy. Athletes, especially the ones engaged in certain high-risk and dangerous sports activities, need to take into account eye safety. Sports-associated eye accidents can be prevented with the correct protective eyewear.1
Visual talents of athletes:
Dynamic visual acuity, eye tracking, peripheral vision, depth perception, eye-hand coordination, colour vision, visualisation, visual memory, visual concentration, and visual reaction time are some of the visual talents that an athlete must-have, the more the better. Any sport involving a fast-moving ball necessitates the use of eye-tracking, such as in cricket, baseball, football, and volleyball. In sports, having the ability to use your eye and hand in accordance with what you are seeing is crucial (like in golf and skating). A player’s visual reaction speed allows them to hit the ball rapidly, as in table tennis. In your mind’s eye, visualisation allows you to envision yourself performing effectively such as in shooting and archery. The ability to evaluate distance is aided by depth perception, for example, in baseball (see figure 1).2
Sports Vision Tests:
It is of utmost importance to assess visual capabilities in athletes. 4 For this the eye care practitioner can conduct some tests such as:
• Snellen’s acuity
• Eye-tracking devices test
• Ocular alignment test
• Eye dominance test
• Depth perception measurements, and
• Assessments of visual processing speed and hand-eye coordination.
sports vision training methods offer an additional option for athletes to improve their imaginative, perceptive, and overall visual performance
Sports Vision Pyramid:
Laby and Kirschen (2018) gave a new model for sports and vision performance (see figure 2).5 There are two main components that are of prime importance in the sports vision pyramid. These are the visual acuity and the contrast sensitivity. These are included at the base of the pyramid. Visual acuity is improved by properly correcting the refractive error and the contrast sensitivity can be improved by means of filters and also by reducing glare in the strong light conditions of the stadium, monocularly. These come under the monocular sensory processes.
The next level of the pyramid deals with the improvement in the binocular vision conditions wherein, motor problems such as strabismus and fixation disparity or sensory problems such as suppression and amblyopia are managed. The third level of the pyramid comprises of visual mechanics that deals with the highlights on how the brain uses visual information to instruct body muscles, to behave appropriately. The best on-field performance comes on the top of the sports vision pyramid which is the ‘on-field’ performance that can only be achieved when each level of the visual pyramid has been optimised. If the athlete’s performance is still not up to the mark then it can be attributed to other ocular malfunctions.
Future of Sports Vision:
The field of sports vision needs to incorporate a co-management relationship between ophthalmology and optometry relations. This is possible with the synergy, mutual respect and sharing of knowledge between the two professions. It will be a win-win situation for both. If there is cooperation with other allied health professions, this will lead to more discoveries. Also, there is a need to bring together general physicians, optometrists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and coaches together in an environment with mutual respect and openness for all ideas. The shared goal should be proper diagnosis and management of athletic skills.
Athletes have better physical, motor, and visual abilities than non-athletes. These talents can be taught and developed through visual sports activity training. Therefore, sports vision training methods offer an additional option for athletes to improve their imaginative, perceptive, and overall visual performance – these are indeed essential qualities that are crucial if one wants to excel in their chosen sport.
Sports vision optometrists are eye care professionals who are trained to thoroughly evaluate the visual system. They prescribe proper glasses or contact lenses if needed, or can plan special vision therapy/training sessions to help athletes enhance their specific sports visual abilities.8
1. 6 Sports Vision Skills You Can Practice At Home [Internet]. All About Vision. [cited 2022 Jan 28]. Available from: https://www.allaboutvision.com/sportsvision/skills.htm
2. Sports and Visual Skills – Cameron NC | Northgate Eye Center OD, PA [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jan 28]. Available from: http://northgateeye.com/2021/04/28/sports-and-visual-skills/
3. Tweens and Teens Sports Vision | Bausch + Lomb [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jan 28]. Available from: https://www.bauschandlomb.in/article/tweens-and-teens-sports-vision
4. Advanced Family EyeCare – Optometry in Sweet Home, OR US :: Sports Vision [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jan 28]. Available from: https://www.advancedfamilyeyecare.net/sports-vision.html
5. Kirschen D, Laby D. The Role of Sports Vision in Eye Care Today. Eye Contact Lens. 2011 Mar 1;37.
6. SportsVisionNYC. SportsVisionNYC – Sports Vision, Performance [Internet]. SportsVision.nyc. [cited 2022 Jan 28]. Available from: https://sportsvision.nyc/
7. Laby D, Kirschen D. A New Model for Sports and Performance Vision. 2018;4(2):7.
8. Shekar SU, Erickson GB, Horn F, Hayes JR, Cooper S. Efficacy of a Digital Sports Vision Training Program for Improving Visual Abilities in Collegiate Baseball and Softball Athletes. Optom Vis Sci Off Publ Am Acad Optom. 2021 Jul 1;98(7):815–25.
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