Many athletes address these problems by trying to work harder, become stronger, and increase speed. But what happens when more time on the putting green, more time in the gym, and more miles on your legs fail to produce improvements in performance?
Success in most sports is dependent on completing the proper movement at the correct time and in the correct location. Perfect form during a throw, kick, or swing is meaningless if the movement is performed at the incorrect time or incorrect location. Rarely do people critique the mechanics of a professional baseball player’s swing, but instead comment that he struck out because he swung at the wrong time or in the wrong place.
After a certain amount of training, athletic success becomes less about becoming stronger or faster and more dependent on becoming more accurate and more consistent. Vision provides the athlete with the information necessary to determine when and where to perform the sports-specific movement. Maximizing your visual system during athletic competition allows you to be more accurate and more consistent in your performance.
Vision, just like speed and strength, is an important component in sports performance, and there is much more to vision than just seeing clearly. Your vision is composed of many interrelated skills that can affect how well you play your sport. Your eyes and vision need to be treated in the same way that you treat the rest of your body when preparing for competition. Your eyes need the proper “equipment” in the form of glasses, contact lenses, or sports-specific eyewear. Just as many athletes train their muscles for athletic performance, the visual system too can be trained through sports vision therapy to maximize eye teaming skills, eye focusing skills, and visual information processing abilities.
A sub-specialty of optometry called “Sports Vision” is dedicated to improving athletic performance through improving visual skills. While many optometrists sell sunglasses that are great for sports, or fit contact lenses that you use while playing sports, very few have the training and experience to provide comprehensive care for athletes.
When performed by an optometrist with residency training in binocular vision and expertise in athletes’ vision, sports vision includes all of the following areas:
- Sports eye injuries: Prevention and management
Athletes of all ages are at an increased risk of suffering an eye injury. It is important to both prevent eye injuries from happening (through the use of protective eyewear), and manage eye injuries properly once they have occurred.
- Concussion and traumatic brain injury management
It is estimated that 4 to 5 million concussions occur each year, and a large number of those occur during sports. Concussions can have cognitive, emotional, and physical effects on the athlete and often times will affect the visual system. It is important for every athlete to be evaluated by an optometrist with residency training in binocular vision and neuro-optometry following a concussion to determine the visual effects and how to best resolve your symptoms. Learn more about the visual effects of a concussion.
- Assessment of visual skills
Clear vision is just the first step in preparing your eyes for competition. An eye exam that assesses the need for a prescription and eye health is not thorough enough for athletes who wish to perform their best (from weekend warrior to professionals). An Athlete Vision Assessment with Advanced Vision Therapy Center will allow our experts to assess clarity of vision, visual skills necessary for your sport, and visual processing abilities. Following this assessment, we will be able to make recommendations for you to maximize visual performance during the sports you love.
- Sports-specific correction (glasses, contacts)
Nobody wants to make the “not top plays” for losing the ball in the sun while their sunglasses sit on the brim of their hat. Finding the right tint for your sport is very important so that you can see the ball, the field, or the golf course. Additionally, it is very common for a sports vision doctor to prescribe competition specific contact lenses that further improve vision, contrast, or eye health. For example, single-use contact lenses are very popular for swimmers and triathletes who have an increased risk of eye infection.
- Enhancement of visual abilities
Athletes are wired to want to improve, that is what keeps us motivated to compete at the highest level possible. When your competitive edge has you asking, “how can I get better”, that is where our team of experts comes in. Following your Athlete Vision Assessment, we will determine if Sports Vision Training is an option to strengthen areas of your vision or visual processing.
Because all sports have different visual demands, a developmental optometrist with expertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper eyeglasses or contact lenses, or design a sports vision training program to maximize your visual skills for your specific sport.
The experts at Advanced Vision Therapy Center routinely provide assessments and sports vision training for athletes in Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Eagle, Kuna, Mountain Home, the surrounding Idaho areas, Oregon, Nevada, and Utah.
Call 208.377.1310 to shedule your appointment with our Sports Vision Doctor