How to optimize your performance with a sport vision assessmentMay 26, 2017
When athletes walk into our Performance Vision training room, most of them carry with them the misconception that they are stuck with the visual skills that they have.
Photo: ECHL hockey goalie Mackenzie Skapski going through his first Sport Vision exam
This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are approximately 20 different visual skills that can be evaluated and optimized for peak athletic performance. No matter what sport you compete in, your visual skills play a huge role in how you interpret and react to the information in the environment around you.
If we improve your ability to process visual information faster and more accurately, the quality of your output (decision making, ability to process multiple things at the same time, reaction time, etc) is going to be exponentially better. The first step to improving these visual skills is a Performance Vision exam.
The following article will outline our approach to a performance vision evaluation, why we measure the visual skills that we do, and the outcome you can expect.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A PERFORMANCE VISION EVALUATION?
Photo: Optometrist Dr. Kevin Loopeker using the Optomap Retinal Imagery machine
Your assessment will start in the exam room with a thorough case history and discussion about your visual demands, as they pertain to your sport.
An ultra-wide, digital image of your retina will be produced by our state-of-the-art Optomap Retinal Imagery machine, to help assess the health of your eye.
Visual clarity will be measured at this time and we’ll also take a look at your depth perception, focusing flexibility and skills associated with binocularity (or how well the two eyes are working together).
Your prescription will be finalized and recommendations on sport goggles/glasses (including special tints and lens material), contact lenses and visual habits will be discussed. At Fortius Sport & Health we pride ourselves on having the latest contact lens and spectacle designs available.
WHAT KIND OF TESTS WILL I DO?
After spending an hour in the exam room, we’ll move to the Performance Vision training room to evaluate your visual skills in a more dynamic and sport-specific environment. For this half of the assessment we’ll take a look at the following visual skills:
Eye alignment: ideally, when you look at an object both of your eyes should be aimed perfectly – with no horizontal or vertical deviation. We’ll measure your eye alignment in different gazes to make sure that both eyes are working well together and aiming accurately. We’ll also add a balance component to ensure that in times of high stress and fatigue, your eyes continue to give you correct information.
Photo: Eye alignment evaluation with Mackenzie Skapski, ECHL Hockey Goalie
Contrast sensitivity: your ability to detect stimuli in low light, fog or glare (important for athletes that compete on the snow, or outside on fields where weather conditions can vary).
Macular pigment density: made up of two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, your macular pigment plays a critical role in protecting the macula from harmful light and maintaining the function of the macula. Your macular pigment density strongly linked to your contrast sensitivity, and if your macular pigment is low, we can often make dietary or supplement suggestions to help you improve it.
Near-far quickness: this is a measure of how fast you can move your eyes through space from a near target to a far target.
Eye tracking: your ability to track objects in space and jump from object to object (both vertically and horizontally) plays an important role in decision making and your reaction time.
Distance depth perception: your ability to judge where objects are in space and the speed at which you can do that.
Eye-hand reaction time: the speed at which you are able to process visual information and coordinate your motor skills.
Photo: Testing eye-hand reaction time with Mackenzie Skapski, ECHL Hockey Goalie
Central-Peripheral Integration and Peripheral Awareness: perhaps one of the most important visual skills in sports, this is your ability to perform a central task (e.g., dribble a basketball, handle the puck) and be aware of (and process efficiently) what objects and players around you are doing.
Photo: Mackenzie Skapski, ECHL Hockey Goalie discussing his results with Dr. Kevin Loopeker
After your assessment, our Optometrists will discuss your strengths and your opportunities for improvement – both with optical adjustments and Performance Vision Training. Any athlete looking to improve their performance – no matter their age, sport, or competition level, can benefit from a Sport Vision Assessment.
To learn more, visit the Sport Vision page on our website. To book an exam, contact the Fortius Institute at 604.292.2501.