Sports are all around us whether we ourselves are participating in them or watching them as a fan base. They are an event that brings people closer together especially since March Madness is around us. It is a craze that fans will ultimately spend a numerous amount of money on for memorabilia, game tickets, betting or even to subscribe to specific sports packages online.

When you have a child playing sports, parents have to spend money on the necessary equipment for their child in order to play the sports they are into. A lot of times parents will try to buy “better equipment” in hopes their child will perform better on the playing field/court. There are times where the child has a vision-related problem holding them back from becoming an elite athlete and no matter how good the equipment is the visual system is not allowing them to function at their best. “It is estimated that over 285 million people in the world have vision impairment and that 42% of this is due to uncorrected refractive errors.”(1) “More than 12.1 million school-age children or one in four have some form of a vision problem.”(2)

When it comes to athletes many people think that they have superb vision, but that may not always be the case! In a recent article by bleacher report, it was announced that Steph Curry “who set the NBA record for three-pointers in a season (402) and holds four of the top five seasons in three-pointers made, has needed to blink or squint at times.”(3) He was in a little bit of a shooting slump and was tired of squinting all the time so he made a change and all it took was for him to put on a pair of contact lenses to sharpen up his surroundings as well as the rim.

In my everyday practice, I get the chance of working with high school and college athletes and many times I have an athlete in my chair who already has a division one offer, but their vision is poor. Many times athletes get accustomed to how they are seeing and rely on muscle memory. They sometimes wonder why they might be struggling in a certain area and never even think twice that their vision could be holding them back. There are at “least 15 vision related skills needed for great sports performance, which can include visual acuity, binocular vision, depth perception/stereopsis, accommodation, eye-hand/eye-body coordination, central peripheral awareness, color vision, ocular dominance, and contrast sensitivity.”(4)

Athletes can also suffer from traumatic brain injuries such as from a header in soccer to an elbow to the back of the head in basketball. A simple prescription even as low as -0.25sph or a slight astigmatism correction would work wonders for an athlete to alleviate eyestrain or headaches. A tinted color contact lens could also alleviate light sensitivity for some of these athletes. It is imperative for all our athletes no matter the age to get their eyes examined by an eye care professional. They need to not only asses how well they are seeing but to evaluate the whole visual processing system as well as the overall health of the eye.

It always helps to see well if you hope to play well! Sports vision performance training and wearing the appropriate eyewear can help maximize your eyes to be more efficient and accurate which will help the athlete play to their best ability and ultimately get them to the next level. Always remember that an athlete is not physically fit until they are visually fit!


References:

  1. Bourne RR, Stevens GA, White RA, Smith JL, Flaxman SR, Price H et al. Causes of vision loss worldwide, 1990-2010: A systematic analysis. Lancet Global Health. 2013;1:e339-e349.
  2. Donahue SP, Johnson TM, Ottar W, Scott WE. Sensitivity of photo screening to detect high-magnitude amblyogenic factors. J AAPOS. 2002;6:86-91.
  3. Rapp Timothy. Stephen Curry Broke 3-point shooting slump by wearing new contact lenses, April 3, 2019. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2829324-stephen-curry-broke-3-point-shooting-slump-by-wearing-new-contact-lenses
  4. Donald F.C. Loran. Sports Vision, 1995