About Sports Vision Training / Q & A
Sports Vision Training is a branch of optometry that works with athletes to enhance their visual skills. While it is obvious that good vision is important in most of what we do, it is especially important in competitive sports. And since each sport has different requirements on an athlete's visual system, the training and testing can be modified to accomodate those requirements.
Among the important visual skills in sports are the following:
Visual Acuity - the ability to see objects clearly
Depth Perception - is the ability to judge the distance from yourself to an object
Contrast Sensitivity - this is the ability to discern detail of an object or scene when the contrast is reduced; one example would be tracking a golf ball on a dark, overcast day.
Eye/hand, eye/body, eye/foot coordination - the ability to direct the hands, feet, or body the way you need to in order to accomplish a task, such as kicking a moving soccer ball
Visual/Motor Reaction Time - if an object is coming toward you, do you make your move early, late, or just at the right time?
Peripheral Awareness - the ability to maintain awareness of what is going on around you while trying to accomplish a specific task
Eye Movements - there are two basic types of eye movements: pursuits, in which we follow a moving object, and saccades, in which we make quick, directed movements, such as an infielder catching a ground ball then looking to first base to throw out the runner. Building these skills enables you to "keep your eyes on the ball."
Q: Will Sports Vision Training (SVT) really improve my game?
A: We hope so, but we are really only working with your visual skills. Most, if not all sports require a firm dedication to practicing skills other than visual skills. We will try to identify those areas that need work as far as your vision is concerned, but that is only part of the picture. We are not here to teach you sports skills (your coach probably wouldn't like it if we tried.) And while SVT is by no means a "quick fix" for an athlete, at least one study showed that the majority of athletes reported that they performed better from it.
Q: When you perform Sports Vision exercises, are you actually "building" the eye muscles?
A: No, the eye muscles are already stronger than necessary to move the eyes. I prefer to think of the exercises as doing for the eye muscles what practicing scales does for a piano player; you're developing facility and coordination rather than muscle strength (otherwise, pianists would have bulging forearms!) What we are doing is enabling the athlete to use the visual system with greater accuracy, efficiency, andendurance
Q: How does Sports Vision Training differ from regular or traditional Vision Training?
A: In traditional Vision Training, we are working with deficient skills and trying to bring them up to satisfactory levels. With athletes, we are trying to work beyond those levels, to achieve superior visual skills. Also, in traditional VT, we work largely at the reading distance, while in SVT we can work at many distances, depending on the sport. However, the early stages of SVT are very similar to traditional VT.
A study of athletes at Georgia Tech by Barry Seiller, MD, of the Visual Fitness Institute in Chicago, found that the training performed by student athletes was helpful in their academic performance as well. (1)
Q: How long does it take?
A: Generally, we work on the basis of ten or more twice-weekly sessions in the office, with additional training that can be done at home in between sessions.
1. Sports Vision- Training Gets Results