In order to perform at their best, athletes need excellent peripheral vision and the ability to shift focus quickly. Many athletes are partaking in vision training to maximize their potential. Although vision training is not a new concept, thanks to recent studies, it’s gaining prestige and value.
Vision training doesn’t actually improve vision; it improves the brain’s ability to process what it has seen faster and more clearly. The concept behind vision training is based on the idea that if the sensory neurons are engaged more often, they will be more active and more accurate when transmitting information across synapses. As Dr. Sabel, a neuroscientist from Madgeburg, Germany states, “Sensory neurons are like muscles in that if you do not use them, you lose them.” He further states that the concept applies “to athletes and patients with visual impairment” because of diseases like glaucoma, which affect peripheral vision. Dr. Sabel conducted a study, which showed a 19 percent improvement in the peripheral vision of glaucoma patients.
Although previous studies have been conducted to determine the efficacy of vision training for athletes, the studies were limited both in the number of people studied and the variables that affected the outcomes. More recently, studies conducted on the University of Cincinnati baseball team and another by a team of psychologists on the baseball team from the University of California, Riverside, showed marked improvements in both the reading of eye charts and batting averages for both teams. In both instances, players completed sessions of vision training on computers and were compared against players who had no vision training at all. The players who did not partake in the vision training did not show improvement.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), not only do these studies have strong indications for improving an athlete’s performance, but they also show promise for patients that suffer from glaucoma. Referring to Dr. Sabel’s study, which was published in the February edition of JAMA Ophthalmology, the AOA cites a 19 percent improvement in peripheral vision.
As your partner in optimal eye health, Optos would like to hear your opinions on these studies and invite you to join the conversation with us on Twitter. We would love to hear if you have or plan to use vision training for your glaucoma patients and athletes.