Most everyone who has a young athlete in the family has been at the sports complex and heard the familiar phrase “Keep your eye on the ball!” or “You can’t hit what you can’t see!” being shouted from the stands, dugouts, or coaching box. These phrases emphasize the important role that visual perception plays in baseball performance. In all sports, almost 80% of perceptual input is visual. But even 20/20 vision does not mean athletes are performing at their peak.Objects do not just sit there; they move very quickly. Regular eye exams may reveal that you can or cannot see clearly, but they can’t tell how well you ascertain where an object is in space, how fast it’s traveling, or if it’s changing direction.
Today’s athletes spend countless hours training their bodies by lifting weights, running, and
honing their skills, but will often neglect one of the important aspects of becoming an elite
athlete. In life, especially in sports, everything we do begins with our vision. The smallest eye
movement can be the difference between doing well or poorly on a play, which can directly
affect the outcome of winning versus losing. Knowing exactly how our eyes work together and training them to move more efficiently and with purpose is very important in sports. The key to unlocking each athlete’s visual potential lies in the RightEye Tracking System. Eye Care Associates is proud to announce that this technology is now available in our Laurel clinic.
The RightEye Tracking System is a non-invasive, objective test that measures and analyzes an athlete’s eye movement, brain processing, and reaction time. This allows our doctors to know how efficiently the eyes move and where they are in space without having to wear any special headgear. The measurements captured by the RightEye Tracking System are objective, meaning there is no human element, allowing more precision and taking bias out of the equation. One session can show any deficiencies in eye movements or alignments and can help identify specific areas that need improvement. The first session will give each athlete a Sports Performance EyeQ score that allows the doctors to quantify the eye movements and will show the athlete how they stack up against others with similar abilities.
If the report identifies opportunities for improvement, our optometrists will customize a plan,
built from an online library of over 150 training drills. All that is needed is a computer and an
internet connection to access the training program, called the EyeQ Trainer. The EyeQ Trainer is a computer-based treatment program proven to help improve functional vision. It rehabilitates all six movement systems of the eye and promotes positive neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to make important neural connections. The result – improved functional vision and smoother, more accurate eye movements – can lead to better focus and concentration, improved balance and hand-eye coordination, and enhanced performance in everything from reading to driving to sports. The EyeQ Trainer is personalized to the athlete’s specific needs, so the training exercises can focus on the areas that affect the athlete the most. After several weeks of at home training, the Sports Performance EyeQ test is redone which allows progress to be tracked over time. An important distinction to know is that this system is not “training the eyes,” that is a bit of a misnomer. We are teaching athletes to identify faster and make faster cognitive decisions which leads to more efficient motor decisions. For any sport, this is essential, including hitting a fastball, making a save in goal, or catching a pass.
The RightEye company has compiled research from the last 30 years and put that into this new technology that is now available to athletes of all ages and abilities. RightEye has formal
partnerships with Major League Baseball and USA Baseball, among other organizations. One major endorsement comes from Rick Riccobono, Chief Development Officer of USA Baseball, who says “Sports vision and functional vision are areas of growing importance for our game. RightEye has provided us with an innovative foundation for objectively measuring and assessing the sports vision performance of our athletes.” In addition to sports vision, any issues found with an athlete’s functional vision, including eye alignment and how they work together, object tracking, depth perception and dynamic visual acuity, will be identified.
The scientific community has also done many studies which prove that athletes with better
performance in smoothly tracking visual objects have better plate discipline, i.e., these athletes were less likely to swing at pitches outside the strike zone. Better pitch tracking and faster oculomotor movement help batters become more discernible in their swings, meaning they only swing at pitches likely to result in the ball being put into play. There is a direct correlation between athletes with elite visual tracking and pursuits and how high of a level of competition in which they can compete.
Eyesight is the ability to receive input through the eye while vision is the ability to understand
that input. Recognizing this distinction is very important. Even a person with 20/20 eyesight can have vision issues. Any eye doctor across the country can help patients achieve 20/20 eyesight, but at Eye Care Associates, we strive to make sure the entire visual system is healthy and functional and we are committed to providing our patients with the latest state-of-the-art technology. If you or someone you know could benefit from this new technology, please call our office today at 1-833-ECA-EYES or book an appointment through our website to set up a consultation.