Did you know that there is more to vision than 20/20 eyesight? Your vision is composed of many skills that affect how well you play your sport. Because all sports have different visual demands, an eye doctor with expertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper eyeglasses, eye protection or contact lenses. Your eye doctor can also design a vision therapy program to maximize your visual skills for your specific sport.
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What is sports vision therapy?
Sports vision therapy is a customized training program to improve the visual abilities of an athlete. The training program, which can last from three to six months, includes weekly office visits and daily home treatments. Special lenses, prisms, optical devices and computer programs are used to improve the visual abilities.
The visual skills necessary for peak athletic performance in many sports are:
- Dynamic Visual Acuity: Seeing moving objects clearly.
- Eye Tracking: The ability to “keep your eye on the ball.”
- Eye Focusing: The ability to change focus from one object to another quickly and clearly.
- Peripheral Awareness: Seeing out of the corner of your eye.
- Depth Perception: The ability to quickly and accurately judge the distance and speed of objects.
- Eye-Hand or Eye-Body Coordination: The ability to use your eyes to effectively direct the movements of your hands/body.
- Visual Concentration: The ability to screen out distractions and stay focused on the ball or target.
- Visual Reaction Time: The speed at which the brain interprets and reacts to your opponent’s action.
Eye protection should be a major concern for all athletes. Proper protective eyewear could prevent thousands of eye injuries that children and adults suffer from every year. Appropriate sunglasses should be worn for outdoor sports, and there are sport-specific lens designs that can enhance performance.
Who Can Benefit?
Many athletes are amazed at how sports eye doctors can predict their performance based on findings from a vision examination. If you are having trouble getting to the next level in your particular sport even after stepping up your practice, find out if a visual problem is limiting your success!
Diane L. Tucker, OD, FAAO, FCOVD is an Optometrist with a special interest in Vision Therapy, Pediatric Optometry and contact lenses. She is board-certified in Vision Therapy by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry. She sees patients at the Beachwood Cole Eye Institute and the Twinsburg Family Health Center. To schedule an appointment, call 216.831.0120.