13 Aug 2018

Sports vision tests can help athletes determine how well their eyes perform, beyond a basic ability to see letters and objects clearly on a standard eye chart.

Many sports vision skills can be addressed to improve athletic performance, such as:

  • Hand-eye coordination, which helps athletes — including baseball players at bat — anticipate and hit a fast-moving ball.
  • Improved depth perception to aid athletes such as downhill skiers when they negotiate turns and avoid obstacles.
  • Eye tracking ability, which includes following and anticipating motion of a bouncing basketball.

The sports vision tests that assess how well an athlete sees sometimes also can be used to train athletes and improve visual function.

Types Of Sports Vision Tests

Sports vision tests vary greatly, depending on the athlete’s individual needs. Examples of the many tests an athlete might undergo from a sports vision specialist include:

Snellen Eye Chart.

This familiar test involves reading lettering on a chart placed 20 feet away. You are asked to identify letters on lines of increasingly smaller sizes until you no longer are able to correctly identify most symbols on a line. If you have problems reading an eye chart, then you typically are fitted with standard eyeglasses or contact lenses to improve visual acuity. Or, you might consider undergoing a vision correction procedure such as LASIK but only after careful consideration of candidacy and potential risks.

While correcting visual acuity may seem like a simple and obvious step, many sports vision specialists find that young athletes in particular have undetected refractive error that can adversely affect athletic performance.

Contrast Sensitivity Tests.

Different tests assess contrast sensitivity. One common approach involves  using standard Snellen and Sloan Letters presented at contrast levels from 100% to 0.8% contrast. If you have poor contrast sensitivity (trouble seeing high contrast objects against a similar background, especially in low-light conditions), various solutions can be considered, such as the possibility of fitting you with eyeglasses with specific lens tints to help increase visibility. However, not all sports vision experts agree that tints are helpful for everyone.If you wear contact lenses or eyeglasses, you need to make extra sure that you keep them clean. Dirty lenses can significantly reduce your contrast sensitivity.

Ocular Alignment Tests.

Cover tests determine how well both eyes are aligned so they work together. Your eye doctor will use methods such as covering one eye to observe how the other eye responds to visual stimuli. Then both eyes will be uncovered and observed as they respond to the same stimuli. The Hirschberg test is another method of determining ocular alignment, by assessing the way light is reflected off the cornea. Alignment problems can be detected by analyzing the specific points on the cornea where reflections occur.

Depth Perception Measurements.

Your ability to see in three dimensions can be determined. If the eyes have different uncorrected refractive errors, this could lead to difficulties with stereopsis or binocularity.

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