This April we are highlighting sports vision! An ever-growing field, sports vision is helping athletes across the country reach their maximum potential. However, there is very little known about the ways in which sports vision has expanded beyond safety and eyewear.
Safety is imperative. Many athletes require sports goggles to help ensure that they protect their eyes from impact throughout the duration of a sporting event. This is why lens materials should be carefully considered when it comes to protective eyewear. Avoiding crown glass and leaning towards polycarbonate or trivex is best. You can also further protect and enhance vision using sunglasses and colored filters. Sunglasses help to guard the eyes against harmful UV rays and are often utilized in cycling, beach volleyball, and other outdoor activities. Those athletes may also benefit from the addition of amber or rose tint for sunnier days. Further, yellow and orange tints can be used to enhance the visual potential in low light conditions.
In more recent years, vision therapy has moved to the forefront of sports vision. An increasing number of athletes are utilizing classic and more advanced techniques to fine-tune essential skills that allow us to maximize our visual capability. Skills that can be targeted are eye-hand coordination, reaction time, eye tracking, accommodation, balance/proprioception, and glare recovery speeds. The wonderful thing about sports vision therapy is that it is a customizable treatment that is athlete specific. For example, tennis player may be particularly interested in activities that enhance their accommodation, reaction time, and tracking abilities.
Vision therapy is widely available these days and we encourage you to reach out to your local provider to see what opportunities they may have! In the meantime, here are a couple of activities you can try at home:
This activity helps you work on maintaining fixation on a target. You will need to hold an object(card or pen) out in front of you with your arm straight. Move your head up and down while focusing on the object. Do this for a minute and then switch it up by moving your head side to side while still fixating on the object.
This activity targets our binocularity. This is our ability to make our eyes work together as a team to focus on an image. For this activity, you will need a pen. Start out with the object arm's length away from you and focus on the tip of the pen. Slowly bring the pen in towards your nose and appreciate your eyes crossing. If you notice that the pencil splits into two, stop and try to bring the images back together. If you are unable to maintain a single image, you can move the pen away from your nose slowly until the images are single and repeat the activity.