Sportsvision training offers athletes a way to improve their eyesight and performance. Uncover the methods used and benefits here. Sportsvision training and tests are designed to help athletes assess their eye’s performance but unlike a typical eye chart, the tests are more focused on enhancing athletic abilities. While athletes undergo intense physical training to prepare for a competition, these vision tests are just as important.
What are the Benefits?
These vision skill training programs are focused on several areas including the following:
- Eye tracking ability: these tests include tracking and trying to anticipate the movement of a ball
- Improving depth perception: this helps athletes that have to deal with obstacles and make turns like downhill skiers
- Hand and eye coordination: this is especially useful for baseball players who have to hit fastballs
The different types of vision tests are used to determine how clearly an athlete sees and if necessary, improve their vision. Various types of vision tests exist and are determined by the needs of the athlete. Some of the tests might consist of the following.
The Snellen Eye Chart
The Snellen Eye Chart is a common eye test that involves reading letters from a distance of 20 feet. You will be required to read the letters that get smaller until you can no longer identify the symbols. Typically the 20/20 section are the letters fourth from the bottom. If you can read the next smallest, you have 20/15 vision, and if the letter before that, 20/25.
If you cannot read most of the letters you’ll need to wear contact lenses or eyeglasses, and in the cases of most athletes they usually undergo LASIK procedure to improve their vision. Problems with eyesight is far more common in athletes than is commonly believed and this can affect their performance. Even if you are a sports fan you can tell that athletes will benefit from improved eyesight.
Eye Tracking Devices
Today there are several methods that can assess and improve the way your eyes track objects that move. There are specially designed computer systems that will have your eyes following the movement onscreen. There are also mechanical devices that look like record players where targets move in specific patterns. These and other devices are all built for the same purpose, and that’s to improve your eyes’ ability to follow movement.
Contrast Sensitivity Tests
Athletes can also be tested to assess their contrast sensitivity. There are many ways this can be done, and one of the most common will have you identifying parallel gray stripes set on backdrops that slowly match the stripes’ shade. If you’re wearing eyeglasses or lenses these need to be cleaned regularly because dirty glasses affects contrast sensitivity.
Eye Dominance Tests
This method is used to determine which eye is dominant. Also known as the Miles test, it’s simple enough to do on your own. Make a triangular frame with your fingers and frame an area, and look into it. Close one of your eyes and repeat with the other eye. The eye that provides a clear view of the frame is your stable eye.
Knowing which eye is dominant can provide a lot of benefits. If you’re a photographer for instance, you always use your dominant eye when looking through the viewfinder. If you’re into sharpshooting competition, you do the same thing, to say nothing of other sports.
The Miles test isn’t the only one as there are other techniques that may be used such as the Doman method, whereby both eyes are required to focus on an object as it comes closer to you. When one of your eyes loses focus or diverges, the remaining eye is the dominant one. But if your non-dominant eye diverges too quickly, it could be a sign of binocularity or stereopsis and require medical attention.
Ocular Alignment Tests
These tests are used to determine how well aligned your eyes are and how effective they work together. During the test your doctor will use different methods such as covering one of your eyes to see how both react to visual stimulation. Afterwards, both of your eyes will be uncovered to determine how they react to the same stimulation.
Another method used to determine ocular alignment is the Hirschberg test, which determines how light is reflected at the cornea. By assessing the spots in the cornea where reflections take place, alignment problems can be diagnosed.
Depth Perception Measurements
Tests like the Howard-Dolman Apparatus are used to determine your ability to view objects in three dimensions. The device is shaped like a box with interior lighting, and during the test is positioned before you at eye level. You will be asked to look at a couple of black, vertical rods that you’ll have to manipulate using pulleys and strings.
These strings are connected to the rods, and you have to move them in various positions as directed by the examiner. What is being tested here is your ability to see where the rods are placed relative to one another. This exercise, along with the varying distances, determines your depth perception.
Other Eye Tests
There are also tests that determine how fast your eyes react upon seeing an object, and this visual input provides the stimulus for your brain to react (i.e., swinging the bat when a ball is pitched). There are also tests that determine how quickly you react when an object is dropped, and in these experiments your reaction time is determined by how far the object falls before you react and attempt to catch it.
As you can see these and other tests are very useful in training for various sports and improving hand-eye coordination. Another helpful test is the Saladin Near Point Balance Card, which is used to determine how well your eyes work together. The device checks how accurately each eye attains fixation on an object as well as how your eyes work together to gain accommodation (near vision focus).
Sportsvision training provides several benefits for athletes and can make a huge different in terms of performance. If you’re into sports, this is something you should look into.