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Sports Eye Safety Month – How to Prevent Sports Injuries

skateboard 640Sporting goods stores are full of gear that protects wrists, knees, heads and shins from the impact of a fast-moving ball or a spill from a skateboard.

Unfortunately, many athletes forget that their eyes are just as vulnerable to sports injuries.

Approximately 40,000 sports-related eye injuries occur every year, and many result in permanent vision loss.

The good news is that up to 90% of sports-related eye injuries are preventable if an athlete wears the correct protective eyewear.

At Focus Vision Therapy Center we can help you minimize your risk of incurring an eye injury by helping you choose the proper protective eyewear and improving your visual skills.

What is Protective Eyewear?

Protective eyewear is made of ultra-strong polycarbonate, which is very impact-resistant and also protects eyes from UV rays.

There are a variety of different types of protective eyewear for sports: face guards or masks, safety goggles and special eyewear designed for specific sports.

Your optometrist can provide protective eyewear with your prescription, or safety goggles that can be worn over your regular prescription glasses or contacts.

When Do I Need To Use Protective Eyewear?

Everyone, kids included, needs to use protective eyewear whenever practicing or playing a sport that comes with a risk of eye injury.

Some sports with a high risk of eye injury include:

  • Basketball
  • Boxing
  • Wrestling
  • Martial arts
  • Fencing
  • Hockey
  • Baseball and softball
  • Squash
  • Shooting
  • Archery

Other sports with a moderate risk of eye injury include:

  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Gymnastics
  • Skiing

All sports, whether they put your eyes at high or low risk of injury, require some type of protective eyewear.

Preventing Sports Injuries with Sports Vision Training

Another effective way to prevent sports-related injuries — and not just eye injuries — is sports vision training. A customized program of eye exercises, sports vision training hones the visual skills needed to play a specific sport. This program teaches the eyes and brain to work together more efficiently and process information faster during a game or race, preventing injuries as a result.

Take peripheral vision as an example. Subpar peripheral vision makes it difficult for athletes to see players or a ball coming toward them from the side. Good peripheral vision lowers the risk of collisions and reduces the likelihood of injury while improving athletic performance.

Whether you play basketball, baseball or tennis, peripheral vision provides athletes with a wide view of the people and objects around them, beyond their central vision.

Studies have shown that football players who participated in a sports vision program sustained fewer concussions. Vision therapy can also help athletes improve their reaction time, processing speed and hand-eye coordination.

At Focus Vision Therapy Center, we offer safety eyewear and sports vision training to reduce your risk of injury and improve your vision. We treat any vision-related conditions you may have, so contact us to schedule an evaluation.

Focus Vision Therapy Center serves patients from Eagle, Boise, Emmett, and Nampa, all throughout Idaho.

Q&A

 

Q: What is sports vision training?

  • A: Sports vision training is an individualized program that consists of a variety of exercises designed to improve and treat visual function.

Q: Should I or my child wear protective eyewear even if we don’t wear prescription glasses?

  • A: Yes! The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends wearing protective eyewear for any sport where eye injuries can occur, even for athletes who don’t wear glasses or contacts. Studies show that protective eyewear does not affect a player’s sight and that some athletes play better because they are less afraid of suffering a serious eye injury.


The Importance of Binocular Vision in Sports

The Importance of Binocular Vision in Sports 640Binocular vision is the ability to create a single image with both eyes while maintaining visual focus on an object. Sometimes our eyes fail to integrate visual information into one coherent image. This integration is important, as it allows athletes to perceive three-dimensional depth and relationships between people or objects, such as another player or a ball.

Since each eye is in a different position relative to any object, the eyes convey slightly different spatial information and send these varying images to the brain. The brain then uses the differences between the signals from the two eyes to accurately judge depth, speed, and distance.

When binocular vision isn’t operating at peak capacity, it impacts an athlete’s reaction time and the speed and accuracy of their movements.

Reduced binocular vision doesn’t mean that athletes are constantly falling over or fumbling. What it does mean, however, is that they may misjudge the velocity or direction of a ball, or collide more with other players.

How Does Reduced Binocular Vision Affect Athletes?

When our brain and eyes don’t work efficiently as a team, especially while playing sports, it can affect timing, depth perception, reactions, accuracy, and speed.

Visual deficits hinder how an athlete responds to what they see. If there is an issue with a player’s vision, there will most likely be an issue with their balance and body awareness.

Visual Skills Needed For Sports

There are many visual skills athletes need to perform their best during a game.

Accommodation – is the eyes’ ability to change their focus from distant to near objects and vice versa. For example, when a football player looks at other players coming toward them, then shifts focus to the ball on the field.

Binocular Vision – is the ability to maintain visual focus on an object, creating a single visual image with both eyes. Without binocular vision athletes cannot accurately measure distance and depth.

Depth Perception – is the ability to distinguish the distance to, or between, objects. This is important for athletes when they need to hit or interact with moving objects.

Dynamic Visual Acuity – the ability to see a moving object when a player is stationary, or when the object is still and the athlete is in motion. It’s the eyes’ ability to visually discern detail in a moving object, such as a player’s number on a jersey.

Peripheral Vision – is the ability to see objects and movement outside of your direct line of vision. This is important for athletes, especially when they need to run down a field and be able to see other players coming at them from all directions.

Saccades – quick, rapid, simultaneous eye movements between two or more stationary objects in the same direction. For athletes it’s important to be able to see stationary objects, such as a hoop at the end of the court.

Smooth Pursuits – reflexive eye movements that are required when tracking an object through an environment, such as a flying ball. Instead of the eye moving in jumps, it moves smoothly.

Sports Vision Training

Sports vision training can improve all the visual skills an athlete needs to succeed at their game. Even if an athlete has ‘20/20 eyesight’ they may still have reduced binocular vision, and sports vision can help improve any lagging visual skills. Sports vision is an individualized training program that focus on improving visual skills so that athletes can improve their performance.

The ability to enhance an athlete’s sports vision skills is a proven way to improve performance. To learn more about how sports vision training can help you reach your goals, contact us at Focus Vision Therapy Center today.

Focus Vision Therapy Center serves patients from Eagle, Boise, Emmett, and Nampa, all throughout Idaho.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Scott Lewis

 

Q: What is sports vision training?

  • A: Sports vision training is a customized program that improves the communication between your brain, eyes, and body. It helps athletes process information more accurately and react faster to what they see on the field.

Q: Why is sports vision training important?

  • A: Athletes in visually demanding sports need to have exceptional visual skills. This is true for all sports, where the ability to focus, react quickly, and move fast can mean the difference not only between winning and losing, but between incurring an injury and staying safe.


2 Ways Strong Peripheral Vision Can Help You Avoid Sports Injuries

football player 640Did you know that 80% of what the brain processes during a sports game comes via the eyes, and that much of that input is transmitted from our peripheral vision?

Peripheral vision, also known as peripheral awareness, enables us to detect and see things that aren’t right in front of us when we are looking straight ahead. Athletes with poor peripheral awareness may not realize that a player or ball is coming toward them from the side, putting them at higher risk of injury while playing sports.

One way to improve peripheral awareness is through sports vision training, a customized program that improves the communication between your eyes, brain, and body while playing sports. These learned visual skills can be useful in so many other areas of life as well. The sports vision program is offered by optometrists trained in sports vision training.

Why is Peripheral Vision Critical to Playing Sports?

Peripheral vision is an often overlooked aspect of sports performance. Well developed peripheral vision is essential in sports like football, where the players need to be aware of the sudden movement on either side of them. When football players dash across the field, their peripheral vision helps guide their path.

Improving peripheral vision can also help you avoid sports injuries. It can help athletes avoid or brace themselves for a collision or detect a fast-moving object approaching from the side. Additionally, sports vision training can help an athlete improve reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and processing speed.

Eye Exercises to Improve Peripheral Awareness

Here are 2 home-based eye exercises that may improve an athlete’s peripheral vision. Note: these are not a substitute for a comprehensive vision training program offered by a sports vision optometrist.

  • Awareness Drill

One way to improve peripheral vision is to stop what you’re doing and focus on being aware of what is in your peripheral fields.

  • Stop and “be present”
  • Pick a target to look at anywhere from 3 to 10 feet away
  • While looking straight ahead, take note of what you can see around you – to your left and right, and up and down
  • Test yourself: Pick out specific details, then confirm by looking directly at the object.

The goal of this exercise is to stretch your vision farther and enhance your ability to focus on things on either side of you. It’s an easy drill that can lead to a noticeable improvement in your peripheral awareness.

  • Wall Ball

This exercise requires just a wall and a ball, such as a tennis ball.

  • Find a spot on the wall to look at, just above eye level
  • Throw the ball against the wall, bouncing it from your left hand and catching it with your right hand and then back again
  • While you are throwing the ball, keep looking at the spot on the wall and not directly at the ball. Instead, use your peripheral vision to detect the ball’s flight and position in space

You will most likely drop the ball a few times while you get used to the exercise. It will take some practice to get your eyes to relax enough to be able to do this. Once you master one level, try to think of ways to challenge yourself by making this exercise more difficult. You should try doing this once a day, for 10-15 minutes.

Peripheral vision awareness is one of the visual skills most necessary for safety while playing sports. Having good peripheral vision awareness could keep you from getting hit by a frisbee at the park, or from taking a bad hit while on the court or field.


Taking the necessary steps to improve your peripheral awareness can not only improve your game but protect you from injury. Contact Dr. Scott Lewis to learn more about vision therapy.

Focus Vision Therapy Center serves patients from , Boise, Emmett, and Nampa, throughout Idaho.

 

Sports Vision Training Can Help Prevent Sport-Related Head Injuries

playing hockey 640Each year, between 1.7 million to 3 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the U.S. alone. Of those, roughly 70-80% of the people experience vision problems.

So how can you prevent head injuries? Consider sports vision training. It not only improves performance but can also protect your head from injury.

What is Sports Vision Training?

Sports vision training isn’t about correcting your eyesight.

Rather, it’s a customized program made to improve the communication between your eyes, brain, and body while playing sports. It helps amateur and professional athletes process information and then react faster and more accurately to what they see on the field, court, or rink.

Sports vision training uses a personalized series of techniques and exercises, that teaches the brain and body to respond more accurately and efficiently to the fastball or hockey puck rapidly coming toward you. The training focuses on improving visual skills, such as depth perception, hand-eye coordination, eye tracking, focusing, and peripheral vision.

Sports Vision Training and Sport-Related Head Injuries

Head injuries, especially concussions, are among the most common injuries incurred while playing sports. However, they can be prevented!

If your visual skills are not functioning at their peak, you may misjudge the distance between yourself and the ball or yourself you and other players. Miscalculating the velocity of a ball or the positioning of other athletes due to poor peripheral vision can result in serious injury, head or other.

Just as you train your muscles to be at your peak, so too, you must train your eyes to communicate more efficiently with your brain and body.

Does Sports Vision Training Lead to a Decrease In Sport-Related Injuries?

Studies show that players who undergo sports vision training have significantly fewer concussions than their peers.

One study, conducted by the University of Cincinnati Division of Sports Medicine, found that university football players who underwent sports vision training to improve their peripheral vision had fewer concussions than those who did not undergo the training.

In short, sports vision training teaches the the eyes and brain to react better to the changing environment, leading to increased success with fewer injury-causing collisions.

Want to take your game to the next level? Contact Focus Vision Therapy Center today.

We serve patients from , Boise, Emmett, and Nampa, throughout Idaho.

 

Why Vision Training Is Vital for Your Swing 

action athlete athletic ball 279004 (1)It is no secret that hitting a baseball out of the park is considered one of the most difficult challenges in sports. Batters in MLB have less than half a second to meet a 90 mph fastball with the bat’s sweet spot. This means there is virtually no other specific action in any sport that is as demanding to a player’s visual system. What remains a mystery is why so few coaches and managers ask their teams to utilize vision training, which will enhance their performance on the diamond.

The impact of sports vision training is still greatly underestimated. Many athletes, parents, and coaches believe vision is an innate skill and are unaware of the many ways to improve it, and, in turn, enhance a player’s overall athletic performance.

Recognize That Pitch!

There are many kinds of pitches, each with a self-explanatory name: the fastball is extremely fast, a curveball makes a downward curve, and a knuckleball – well, only a true baseball fan understands what that is.

For the batter, naming the pitch is not enough to hit the ball. He only has a fraction of a second to identify what’s coming at him and react accordingly. Keeping his eyes on the ball and assessing direction, speed, and motion is highly demanding for a player’s entire neuro-visual system.

5 Essential Visual Skills for Keeping Eyes on the Ball

  • Speed of focus – The ball is racing towards you at a speed of 70 to over 100 miles per hour. As the ball moves, the eyes must constantly refocus.
  • Eye teaming – The eyes must be perfectly synchronized to keep track of the ball in flight.
  • Depth perception and peripheral vision – Both are critical in assessing the distance, direction, and speed of the fast-moving baseball.
  • Convergence – To follow the ball as it flies towards you, a perfect convergence of both eyes is needed.
  • Visual processing speed – The speed at which all this visual information can be processed inside the brain is critical.

Why Vision Training Is Crucial for Your Swing? generic from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Sports Vision Training as Part of the Regular Baseball Training Schedule

Training to increase strength, accuracy, endurance, and speed is a given in sports. In the same way that players can develop their physical and motor skills, they can improve eye alignment, depth perception, and any of the visual skills listed above through regular sports vision training. It can be an integral part of baseball training for every player.

Sports Vision Trainer Dr. Scott Lewis will create a customized training program for your players based on a sports vision exam that evaluates each player’s visual skills with a specific focus on baseball requirements. The players will each receive individualized training sessions at Focus Vision Therapy Center as well as additional exercises to carry out at home. A training program for your whole team can also be provided.

It’s still early in the season. Start helping each player boost their visual skills and performance. Take your baseball team to the next level. Contact Dr. Scott Lewis at Focus Vision Therapy Center today.

We train athletes from Eagle, Boise, Emmett, Nampa, and throughout Idaho.

Sink That Buzzer Beater With Sports Vision Training

basketballIt’s that time of the year again! With March Madness around the corner, the world of college basketball is getting ready for “The big dance”. Who wouldn’t want their team to sink that buzzer-beater at the championship game and take the tournament? Just as Kris Jenkins did three years ago when he hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer that earned his team the championship title.

The annual NCAA tournament has every college basketball player’s adrenalin running extra high. It is the highlight of the season, not only for the teams but also for fans and families.

The Role of Vision in Basketball

Did you ever stop to consider the importance of excellent vision in sinking such an unforgettable shot? When we say vision, we are referring to the visual skills relevant to basketball, which are different from visual acuity, also known as 20/20 sight. Visual acuity of 20/20 only means an athlete can see clearly, but to sink a 3-pointer demands exceptional neuro-visual processing skills involving eyes, nerves, and brain.

Elite athletic performance requires elite visual skills.

To Beat the Buzzer, Players Need Excellent Visual Skills

Let’s look at a few critical visual skills required to net that last-second 3-point shot:

Target assessment. There is no room for error when shooting at the basket, which is a small target relative to the ball. This requires accuracy in assessing the size, distance, and precise location of the basket. A player who wants to master the 3-pointer needs excellent depth perception and visual tracking abilities.

Accurate localization. To shoot like Steph Curry or Damian Lillard, a player must position himself correctly in relation to static objects, such as the basket and the 3-point line. The shooter must also be aware of the defenders’ movements on the floor. This requires accurate localization skills and peripheral vision.

Visual reaction speed. Whether creating a turnover, grabbing a rebound, or taking the last shot, the visual input the player receives must be processed instantaneously. This allows him or her to respond fast enough to beat both, their opponent and the buzzer.

Hand-eye-body coordination. Basketball players are constantly in motion; coordination of movements of eyes, hands, and feet must be synchronized simultaneously to sink any shot on the crowded court.

Visual Boundaries and Peripheral Vision. Establishing precise visual boundaries that enclose the area in which the player must focus his or her attention during the game—in this case, the basketball court— is critical. The athlete must also be able to disregard whatever is located outside these boundaries, such as the audience and advertising signs. One of the reasons teams tend to do better in their home court is that familiar surroundings do not draw the athlete’s visual attention and cause distraction. Excellent control over peripheral vision helps sustain clear visual boundaries.

Visual Attention. A player must be able to maintain a high level of visual attention throughout the entire game. To beat the buzzer, he or she must remain visually alert until the very last second.

Sink That Buzzer Beater With Sports Vision Training from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Training Visual Skills

Top athletic performance requires elite visual skills. By training an athlete’s basketball-specific visual skills, Dr. Scott Lewis can help improve the overall performance on the court

At Focus Vision Therapy Center we will evaluate your vision skills and determine which to improve for optimal basketball performance. For a functional vision evaluation and to receive your personalized sports vision training program, contact Dr. Scott Lewis today.

Focus Vision Therapy Center trains athletes of all ages from Eagle, Boise, Emmett, Nampa, and throughout Idaho.