As visual fatigue and visual discomfort can affect an athlete’s performance, visual skills play an important role in sport. Besides clarity of vision (acuity), other visual skills used in sport include the following:
The ability to quickly and accurately judge the relative distance between yourself and other objects.
This part of vision enables you to see movement on the sides without looking directly at the object (noticing things out of the corner of your eye).
Dynamic Visual Acuity
The clarity of moving objects (eg a ball in tennis, rugby, soccer etc).
The ability to follow moving objects with minimal head movement.
The ability to quickly change focus from one distance to another. Delays in this focus change affects reaction time to a moving ball.
Processing and remembering visual information from the surroundings that lets you be “in the right place at the right time”.
Screening out distractions (eg spectators, other participants) in order to stay focussed on the target.
Visual Reaction Time
The speed at which your brain interprets and reacts to visual information regarding the position and action of, for example, your opponent or a ball.
The response of your limbs and muscles to information given by your eyes. This is a very important part of sports as it affects timing and body control.
Imagining yourself performing a certain task. Using your “mind’s eye” can actually help you to achieve your goals.
Sports Vision Exercises
There are a variety of simple exercises that can be performed to enhance and improve the above visual skills needed for sport.
Contact your optometrist for suggestions regarding tips and visual exercises.
When playing outdoor or indoor sports, your eyes are subjected to dangers / hazards that might otherwise have been minimised.
Due to the prevalence of sport-related ocular injuries, sportspeople should wear protective eyewear when playing sport, even when they do not need spectacles to correct their vision.
Shatterproof lenses can shield the eyes, particularly from impact injuries.
Sturdy, and especially wrap-around, frames are ideal for sports.
There is a variety of new lens materials available that are resistant to breakage / shattering
Protective Eyewear Frames and sunglasses are available with prescription adaptor designs allowing easy attachment of prescription lenses to sports frames. Interchangeable lens systems allow you to switch between different colour and darkness of lenses for varying light conditions
Ultra-Violet Radiation and Glare
The harmful effects of the sun, and the depleting ozone layer are hazards that cannot be ignored by the modern sportsperson.
Glare can occur in any weather, including overcast days. As a sportsperson, glare can result in a loss of visibility and visual performance.
Being exposed to excessive sunlight exposure during the day produces both a temporary and cumulative effect on the subsequent ability to see at night. Individuals with lighter colour eyes are more affected by glare than those with darker eyes, just like lighter skin is more susceptible to burning. Not all dark lenses provide 100% UV protection. The pupils dilate behind a dark lens and if this lens does not adequately filter UV, more UV will enter through the dilated pupils than were no lenses to have been worn.
Chronic UV exposure has been implicated in a number of eye diseases
An estimated 80% of lifetime exposure to the sun occurs before the age of 18. Also, children are more susceptible to chronic exposure, making ocular sun protection for children an absolute priority
Did You Know?
• Going from indoor artificial light to the beach could increase illuminance 30 times.
• During a normal day, the eyes will use about the same amount of energy as the legs would use walking 50 miles