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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 StylEyes 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 StylEyes, 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.

StylEyes serves patients from Des Moines, Indianola Hills, Southwestern Hills, and Pleasant Hill, all throughout Iowa.

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.


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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 StylEyes today.

StylEyes serves patients from Des Moines, Indianola Hills, Southwestern Hills, and Pleasant Hill, all throughout Iowa.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Kristina Wittrock

 

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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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 our optometric team to learn more about vision therapy.

StylEyes serves patients from , Indianola Hills, Southwestern Hills, and Pleasant Hill, throughout Iowa.

 

Request A Sports Vision Appointment
Find Out If Sports Vision Is Right For You 5152256447

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 StylEyes today.

We serve patients from , Indianola Hills, Southwestern Hills, and Pleasant Hill, throughout Iowa.

 

Request A Sports Vision Appointment
Find Out If Sports Vision Is Right For You 5152256447