Recently, we talked about how vision therapy can help children overcome difficulties in school to become more successful and efficient visual learners. Just like a child’s ability to learn in the classroom relies on more than the ability to see a perfect 20/20, an athlete’s performance in their chosen sport depends on many more visual skills than simply having clear vision. High levels of visual processing and integration contribute to an athlete’s coordination, reaction time, and ability to make visually-based decisions. A wide range of visual skills contribute to being a successful athlete, and vision therapy can help develop and fine-tune these skills. Read on to learn more about Sports Vision Therapy.
Efficient visual input is a major component of athletic performance. While accurate visual function may begin with good acuity, or the ability to see 20/20 or better, it goes far beyond clarity. Particularly for sports-related activities, a large emphasis is placed on eye tracking and teaming, binocular vision and depth perception, peripheral visual attention, and visual-motor integration. All these skills have the ability to improve sports performance by allowing the eyes to accurately follow objects such as balls or opponents, increasing the athlete’s awareness of themselves and others in space, improving decision-making speed, and refining motor integration and reaction accuracy.
In many ways, sports vision therapy is similar to traditional vision therapy. Both work to improve visual skills and functions. However, sports vision therapy is highly specialized, taking into account the sport that is played and the skills that sport requires, and can be performed even if no major visual dysfunction is present. Typically sports vision therapy will begin with a comprehensive evaluation to fully assess the potential visual function and areas of visual performance that need improvement. Once this assessment is complete, vision therapy exercises will be planned specifically for the athlete’s current visual function, sport of choice, and desired performance level.
Like traditional vision therapy, sports vision therapy is often performed in-office. A trained doctor or vision therapist will work one-on-one with the athlete to establish a necessary foundation of visual skills. As improvement is made, home exercises can be integrated. Periodically throughout the therapy process, progress evaluations will be performed to ensure that the exercises being performed are effectively improving the desired visual skills. Therapy is concluded once specific goals set by both the athlete and the vision therapist have been met; the timeline and duration of therapy can differ greatly based on the entering visual performance of the athlete and the desired visual outcomes.
You do not have to be a professional-level athlete to benefit from sports vision therapy. Whether you are a collegiate athlete, or simply hoping to improve your weekend tennis game, sports vision therapy can be helpful. By improving the visual skills utilized during athletic performance, you may find that sports become more enjoyable. Additionally, improving visual function can be beneficial for many daily tasks beyond sports-related activities.