What is Sports Vision?

Do you feel like your athletic performance isn’t living up to your ability? It could be a sports vision problem holding you back. Sports vision is not just about how clearly you can see things. There are actually 17 different visual skills involved with sports vision. These skills not only allow you to see clearly but help with switching focus from different targets at different distances, peripheral vision, and focusing on moving targets to name a few.

Some signs that you may have a vision problem that is affecting your performance include:

  • Difficulty catching or throwing
  • Inability to see the ball clearly
  • Over or underestimating distances
  • Struggling to track the ball or other players
  • Poor performance even with strong skills
  • No improvement with practice

Visual skills needed for sports vision

  • Dynamic visual acuity
    • This means being able to see moving objects clearly.
  • Eye tracking
    • AKA “Keep your eye on the ball!”
  • Eye focusing
    • This means being able to change focus quickly and accurately between two distances.
  • Peripheral vision
    • This is helpful in order to watch other players “out of the corner of your eye” while you are looking at a target
  • Depth perception
    • This allows you to judge the speed and distance of objects.
  • Visual reaction time
    • This allows you to interpret and react to a teammates or opponent’s action. Examples would be swinging a bat or catching a ball
  • Hand-eye coordination
    • Most people know about this one. This allows you to react to incoming visual
      information with accurate body movements.
  • Visual memory
    • This allows you to interpret and remember a fast-moving, detailed image, people and objects.
  • Visualization
    • This means imagining yourself succeeding while at the same time concentrating on something else. Research shows that areas of the brain that light up during performance also light up when a person visualizes the performance. How cool!
  • Visual concentration
    • Maintaining focus on a target while there are distractions. This is really important if there is a large crowd.

Vision Therapy

So, the question is, can these skills be improved? Yes! These sports vision problems are caused by issues with binocular vision. Binocular vision conditions are caused by issues within the eye-brain connections. This means the way that the brain processes the images that the eye is seeing. Vision therapy can help to retain your visual system and improve these skills. Vision therapy is usually done once a week in an eye doctor’s office. Each session lasts around 45 minutes and is designed for the specific needs of each patient. Different eye exercises and activities are used to strengthen the visual system. Homework also may be given to reinforce skills learned at each visit.

So basically, like a workout for your eyes! If you think you may suffer from a sports vision issue, schedule an appointment to see if vision therapy could be a good option for you!

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