Everyone thinks they are an expert on vision

It makes sense, after all, we are all born with two eyes and we experience vision first hand. Most people are familiar with the concept of 20/20 eyesight but are shocked to learn that there are 16 additional visual abilities that combine to create our visual perception of the world around us.

Most people are also shocked to learn that vision is an acquired skill that we are not guaranteed to develop by virtue of having eyes. In fact, it’s a skill we learn during our childhood years, not unlike how we learn to walk, speak and write.

Awareness of sports vision training

Vision is the dominant sense used in all sports which makes the expertise of a sports vision optometrist particularly valuable for athletes. You may then be wondering why the awareness of sports vision training needs to be improved if it’s so critical to sports performance. Why doesn’t everyone know about it already?

The answer lies in the fact that there are relatively few optometrists actively practicing in the field of sports vision training today. In fact, you may be the only optometrist in your community offering sports vision training. In contrast, there are many more athletic trainers and coaches who are able to provide strength, endurance, and skills training to help athletes improve their performance. As a result, the sports world is much more familiar with the benefits of the services provided by these professionals. So how can you change this in your community?

Engage with your community

A great way to start educating your community about sports vision is to connect with the local stake holders in athletics. This means reaching out to local groups such as youth sports associations, athletic trainers associations, coaches associations and parent groups. The easiest way to provide value to such groups is by offering to speak at group gatherings. There are many topics to speak on such as the role vision play in sports, how to enhance visual performance, eye injury prevention and vision based concussion screening.

Start with why

When introducing the concept of sports vision to someone it’s tempting, to begin with explaining what sports vision training is. I would urge you instead to start by explaining why sports vision training is key to achieving the goals of the person or group you’re speaking to (ie. enhancing performance, improving safety).

For example, an athlete may want to utilize sports vision training to gain an edge on their competition while a parent may be more interested in its ability to help their child avoid injury while playing a contact sport. By first addressing how vision training will benefit the person you’re speaking with you will be much more likely to gain their attention. Simon Sinek wonderfully articulates this concept in his classic TED Talk “How great leaders inspire action.”

Bringing it all together

As a sports vision optometrist, you are the expert on vision performance in your community and you have the power to utilize this platform for the greater good. By increasing awareness of sports vision training, you will help increase the level of competition and the safety for athletes in your community.

Resources to expand your knowledge

A summary of the 17 visual skills: https://www.covd.org/?page=Visual_Skills

Top vision skills for sports: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/sports-and-vision/important-vision-skills-for-sports?sso=y

Article: What sports vision doctors can do for you: http://www.allaboutvision.com/sportsvision/specialists.htm

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action : https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action