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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 Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric today.

Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, all throughout California .

Frequently Asked Questions with Palmer N. Lee, O.D.

 

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.


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How One Football Player Became a Pro Thanks To Sports Vision Training

football player 640Larry Fitzgerald Jr. is a well-known NFL wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. He played college football at Pittsburgh, where he earned uncontested All-America honors. He was drafted by the Cardinals third overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. He has had a long and distinguished career.

What many don’t know is that as a young child, Fitzgerald struggled in school. Fortunately, his grandfather, Robert Johnson, the founder of an optometry clinic in Chicago, understood the central role visual skills play in reading, writing, and sports activities.

Dr. Johnson created a vision therapy program for his grandson to strengthen the skills he needed to succeed in school. By the time he turned 12 years old, Fitzgerald became interested in sports and wanted to strengthen the visual skills he needed to boost his sports performance. Dr. Johnson began to tailor his grandson’s vision therapy exercises to facilitate his success on the football field.

The aim of a vision therapy program is to improve visual skills— eye-tracking, focusing, eye-hand coordination, peripheral vision, visual processing speed, and more!

Visual Skills Necessary For Sports Performance

Sports activities require speed and accuracy for optimal performance. These skills allow you to track a ball as it flies through the air, assume the correct position to catch it, and accurately pass it to another player.

The following skills are essential for optimal sports performance:

  • Dynamic visual acuity
  • Eye-tracking
  • Eye focusing
  • Peripheral vision
  • Depth perception
  • Visual reaction time
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Visual memory
  • Visualization
  • Visual concentration

Thanks to vision therapy, Fitzgerald was able to improve his precision, control, spatial judgment, and rhythm. Fitzgerald is a firm believer that visual training helped him become a successful football player.

“There is definitely a connection between the vision therapy that I did as a child and my performance on the field,” Fitzgerald has said. “A number of the drills in football camp reminded me of things I did in vision therapy that helped develop reaction time, eye-hand coordination, and visualization skills.

Can Vision Therapy Improve Visual Skills For Sports?

Yes. Most binocular vision conditions are caused by problems within the brain-eye connections, or visual processing. If a vision problem is detected, a vision therapy program can help to retrain your visual system to improve your vision skills.

If you want to improve your game, vision therapy may be just what you need. Contact Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Lynch to schedule a comprehensive vision evaluation to assess your visual skills and to determine whether vision therapy is right for you.

Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, all throughout California .

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Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Herring

Q: Can you request lenses made from glass? Is glass still used for lenses?

  • A: Yes. Opticians still sometimes use glass for lenses. However, glass is not used very often because they aren’t as safe. If these glass lenses breaks, they can shatters into many pieces and can injure the eye. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, so they can make your eyeglasses less comfortable to wear.

Q: Can a coating be added to eyeglasses to protect them from further scratches?

  • A: A protective coating can’t be added to a lens after it’s scratched. The coating is applied when the lens is manufactured and can’t be put on later.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Sacramento, California. Visit EYEcenter optometric for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

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. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Lynch to learn more about vision therapy.

Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric serves patients from , Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, throughout California .

 

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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 Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric today.

We serve patients from , Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, throughout California .

 

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How Can I Benefit from Sports Vision Training?

Sports vision training offers athletes a way to strengthen their visual skills to improve athletic performance. Just as you can’t slack off from cardio and muscle-building exercises, your eyesight also benefits from staying in top shape. Sports vision therapy sharpens your visual focus and more, boosting your speed, coordination, balance and overall performance.

Vision Therapy to Strengthen Eyesight

Our eye doctors in Citrus Heights, Gold River, Rocklin and Folsom use a range of conditioning techniques to exercise different parts of your visual system. We use advanced sports vision technologies to enhance the following:

  • Dynamic Visual Acuity: enables a sustained focus on quickly moving objects
  • Coordination: the coordinated processing of hand-eye-foot motor skills
  • Peripheral Awareness: perception of the sidelines in your field of vision
  • Depth Perception: fine-tunes spatial judgement
  • Contrast Sensitivity: helps to differentiate between light and dark shades
  • Color Vision: precise perception of colors helps with interpreting subtle environmental features

Winning Results of Sports Vision Therapy

The goal of our vision therapy program is to maximize your visual skills, even if you naturally have 20/20 vision. The eye exercises we recommend can help you to:

  • Stay sharp and focused throughout long games
  • Make faster decisions under pressure
  • Boost awareness of what’s happening around you
  • Strengthen your multitasking abilities
  • Enhance mental concentration, even at rapid speeds
  • Speed up your visual processing

What Sports Do You Play?

Our eye care specialists in Citrus Heights, Gold River, Rocklin and Folsom will custom-design your sports vision therapy exercises to optimize the visual skill set you need to excel at your favorite game.

At EYEcenter Optometric, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 916-727-6518 or book an appointment online to see one of our Citrus Heights eye doctors.

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Sports-Related Eye Injuries

September Is Sports Eye Safety Month in Citrus Heights!

Ocular sports trauma is among the leading causes of permanent vision loss in North America. Tens of thousands of people get treated for sports-related eye injuries a year, with the most common injuries occurring during water sports and basketball. Infections, corneal abrasions, eye socket fractures, and detached retinas are just a few of the typical cases eye doctors encounter on a regular basis.

Sports Eye Safety Month is sponsored by Prevent Blindness America (PBA) to remind people to protect their eyes when playing sports. Though young children are usually the most vulnerable to eye injuries, it should be noted that professional athletes can also suffer eye injuries while on the job.

Eye accidents can happen in a split second – the effects can last a lifetime…

By wearing protective eyewear, you can safeguard your eyesight without compromising on your favorite sports activities. Athletes who wear contact lenses still need additional eye protection for relevant sports.

At EYEcenter Optometric, our eye doctor is experienced and trained to treat sports-induced eye injuries sustained by our active patients. Palmer N. Lee, O.D. and our dedicated staff are committed to providing the most comprehensive eye care to help get you back on the field again. Furthermore, we provide consultations on a wide array of protective eyewear for all your sporting needs.

What Eye Injuries Can Be Caused by Sports?

Corneal Abrasion

A corneal abrasion, also known as a scratched cornea, is the most common sports-related eye injury. When someone gets poked in the eye, the eye’s surface can get scratched. Symptoms may include acute pain and a gritty or foreign body sensation in the eyes, as well as redness, tearing, light sensitivity, headaches, blurry or decreased vision. Medical care includes prevention or treatment of infection, and pain management. If you suspect that you have suffered a corneal abrasion, make sure to see an eye doctor right away.

Traumatic Iritis

Iritis is an inflammation of the iris, the colored part of the eye. The condition rapidly develops and typically affects only one eye. Symptoms include pain in the eye or brow region, blurred vision, a small or oddly-shaped pupil, and sensitivity to bright lights.

Hyphema

Hyphema is among the more common sports-related eye injuries, with racquet sports, baseball and softball accounting for more than 50% of all hyphema injuries in athletics.

A hyphema is a broken blood vessel inside the eye which causes blood to collect in the space between the cornea and iris, also known as the “anterior chamber”. Although the main symptom is blood in the eye, it can be accompanied by blurry or distorted vision, light sensitivity or eye pain.

If you recognize the signs and symptoms of hyphema, make sure to seek immediate medical attention in order to avoid secondary complications.

Angle recession

Angle recession can develop from an eye injury or bruising of the eye, caused by getting punched, elbowed, or hit with a ball. The trauma damages the fluid drainage system of the eye, which causes it to back up, increasing the pressure in the eye. In 20% of people with angle recession, this pressure can become so severe that it damages the optic nerve, and causes glaucoma (known as “angle-recession glaucoma”).

You may not notice any symptoms at first, and it may take years before you experience any signs of vision loss. Therefore, it’s critical to visit the eye doctor as soon as possible for a complete eye exam and make sure that you follow-up with routine screenings.

Retinal tear or detachment

Retinal detachment is a condition in which the retina gets lifted or pulled away from its normal position at the back of the eye. If not treated immediately, retinal detachment can develop permanent vision loss.

Symptoms include seeing flashing lights, floaters or little black spots in your vision. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency and requires an eye doctor’s immediate attention – surgical intervention may be necessary.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This happens when a blood vessel breaks on the white part of the eye. In addition to a sport-related injury, it can be induced by rubbing the eye, heavy lifting, sneezing or coughing. For those with subconjunctival hemorrhage, the eye appears intensely red – though this minor condition will often clear up within a couple weeks on its own without treatment.

Orbital Fracture

This occurs when one or more of the bones around the eyeball break, often caused by a hard blow to the face – such as by a baseball or a fist. This is a major injury and should be assessed by an eye doctor, like Palmer N. Lee, O.D., along with X-Rays or CT scan imaging to help confirm the diagnosis.

Black Eye or Periorbital Hematoma

A “shiner” can occur when a blunt object such as a fist or ball strikes the eye-area of the face and causes bruising. Typically, this kind of injury affects the face more than the eye. Blurry vision may be a temporary symptom, but it’s a good idea to get a black eye checked out by an optometrist in any case, because sometimes there is accompanying damage to the eye which could impact vision.

How Does One Prevent Sports-Related Eye Injuries?

One of the most important things one can do in order to prevent eye injuries is to wear protective eyewear. In fact, wearing eye protection should be part of any athlete’s routine, and should be prioritized just like wearing shin guards or a helmet.

Below are a few tips to prevent sports-related eye injuries:

  • Wear safety goggles (with polycarbonate lenses) for racquet sports or basketball. For the best possible protection, the eye guard or sports protective eyewear should be labeled “ASTM F803 approved” – which means it is performance tested.
  • Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for baseball.
  • If you wear prescription eyewear, speak with Palmer N. Lee, O.D. about fitting you for prescription protective eyewear.
  • Sports eye protection should be comfortably padded along the brow and bridge of the nose, to prevent the eye guards from cutting into the skin.
  • Try on protective eyewear to assess whether it’s the right fit and size for you and adjust the straps as needed. For athletic children who are still growing, make sure that last-year’s pair still fits before the new sports season begins. Consult Palmer N. Lee, O.D. to determine whether the comfort and safety levels are adequate.
  • Keep in mind that regular glasses don’t provide nearly enough eye protection when playing sports.

For athletes, whether amateur or pro, there is so much more at stake than just losing the game. Fortunately, by wearing high-quality protective eyewear, you can prevent 90% of all sports-related eye injuries.

Speak with Palmer N. Lee, O.D. at EYEcenter Optometric about getting the right sports-related protective eyewear to ensure healthy eyes and clear vision. Our eye care clinic serves patients from Citrus Heights and the surrounding areas.

At EYEcenter Optometric, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you build up healthy sports vision. Call us today: 916-727-6518 or book an appointment online to see one of our Citrus Heights eye doctors.

Want to Learn More? Read on!

Frequently Asked Questions with Palmer N. Lee, O.D.

Q: What is Sports Vision?

  • A: Sports vision is a specific discipline of optometric practice focused on the evaluation, remediation, and enhancement of the visual performance of athletes.

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