Grant Money to Fund Sports Needs for Teens Across the Country

Posted by CooperVision on Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Earlier this year, we launched the Contact Sports program to educate young athletes, parents and coaches about the importance of eye health in relation to sports. As part of the program, we kicked off the Gear Up Grants Contest, a contest in which teen athletes could submit a video or photo and a story explaining why their team deserved the grant to help fund a sports-related need. The Round 1 Gear Up Grants recipients were announced in September - 10 teams from across the country received grants of $2,500 each as well as a year supply of contact lenses for each team member with vision correction needs.

The Round 1 recipients are utilizing their grant money to fund practices and help support the cost of new uniforms, among other things. One of the recipients, the Victor Central School District's Marching Blue Devils band (NY) will use their $2,500 grant to help fund practices for their 115 student band, as well as offset the cost of their students' participation in one of three indoor performance ensembles this winter. The Kahuku High School Girls Volleyball team in Kahuku, Hawaii plan to use their $2,500 grant to purchase new volleyball equipment, as the majority of what they use currently is donated from other schools. To read more about these two teams and the rest of our Round 1 Winners, please visit our website. Stay tuned for the announcement of our Round 2 Gear Up Grants Winners!

Baseball and Vision: What It Takes to Hit a Baseball

Posted by Dr. Alan Glazier on Thursday, August 5, 2010

Have you ever wondered how hand-eye coordination really works? Or what kind of impact vision has on sports performance? Dr. Alan Glazier takes a closer look at these questions and more in the context of baseball:

So you want to hit better?  Pete Rose was once asked how he hit so well. His answer: “See the ball, hit the ball”.

Obviously, vision plays a crucial role in one’s ability to hit, but what role it plays is not so obvious.  Seeing an object clearly, and viewing an object traveling nearly 100 mph while being able to guess its position in a millisecond are two different things and involve very different skills.  When viewing a baseball that is static, let’s say, sitting on a table top, the only “skill” needed to see it is visual acuity, or the ability of the eyes’ optics to focus the image properly.  For viewing an object in motion, clarity is important as well, but tracking the object of regard is important, as is the brain’s ability to accurately process the tracking information.

For viewing and connecting a bat in motion with a ball in motion (1) the image of the object of regard (the ball) has to fall clearly on the back of the eye (2) the eye needs to successfully track the image (3) the brain uses the tracking information to project the future position in space (over the plate) that the ball is likely to end up (4) hand-eye motor coordination needs to time and place the swing of the bat to coincide with the tracking system projection of where the ball is headed (5) estimates need to be made of where the plate is in relationship to the pitch using peripheral vision cues (6) speed is estimated by the rate at which the image of the ball is transmitted across the retina and (7) depth perception information is used to adjust each of these calculations.   Looking at things from this perspective, the act of hitting a ball, even a 40 mph pitch, seems visually statistically impossible, yet Major League batters connect with the ball often more than 2.5 times out of 10 on pitches exceeding 80 mph all the time!

The visual skills that are used to be a better hitter can be enhanced.  The first step is to have a comprehensive eye exam including a binocular vision evaluation to make sure you have basic eye functions that will enable you to successfully track a ball.  Next, as with any exercise, you can hone your visual skills through repetitive actions – get to the batting cages.  The next step would be to find a developmental and/or sports vision specialist, usually an optometrist, who can engage you in certain visual tasks that train the visual abilities described in the previous paragraph.  Many professional baseball players are involved in visual training programs. More information on hitting a baseball is available in my other post on hitting.

Courtesy of Dr. Alan Glazier of Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care; Optometrists, Ophthalmologists and Opticians working together to help you see better.  Serving the Rockville, Potomac and Gaithersburg Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC for over 40 years. 

For more information about the connection between contact lenses and sports, including information about money saving rebates, visit MyContactSports.com.

 

Increase Your Sports Performance by Better Understanding Your Vision

Posted by Dr. Alan Glazier on Thursday, July 8, 2010

“See the ball, hit the ball” is how Pete Rose described his amazing ability to hit the baseball with consistency. Ted Williams' vision was tested by tarring a bat – he hit 10 balls and 7 out of 10 times he could tell you where he hit on the ball, be it above the seam, below the seam etc. Wesley Walker of the New York Jets, an all-pro receiver is blind in his left eye, thus lacks true depth perception. Every sport taxes different visual skills of the athlete, whether amateur or professional. It would be incorrect to say that the athlete with the better vision will play better in every instance, as Mr. Walker has shown. So how might a better understanding of our eyes and vision needs lead to increased sports performance?

A few years ago a father brought his high school age son to our practice. Let’s call the son Mike. Mike’s batting average had been dwindling, and the coach astutely recommended that Mikes parents look into vision as a possible cause. Mike aced our eye examination – both eyes could see better than 20/20 independently and together, his depth perception was perfect, his visual skills and reaction time were stellar and he had no problems reading print on a page. His school work was going well. The health of both eyes inside and out was perfect. At this point the average eye examination would end and the dwindling batting average may be attributed to a problem with confidence, stamina or one of many other factors. In this case however, the next step was to observe Mike in his batting stance. Mike was a righty. I noted that Mike had a prominent nose bridge. With Mike in batting stance and head turned toward the pitcher, the bridge of his nose was prominent enough that it interrupted the vision in his right eye. Mike seemed to be keeping his chin close to his right shoulder. The closer he held his chin to his right shoulder, the more of the line of sight of his right eye was blocked by the bridge of his nose. I then tested his eye dominance. It turns out that like most right handed batters Mike was right eye dominant. The eye the brain favored was blocked during hitting, and he was counting on the non-dominant eye alone to judge pitches. He was viewing the pitcher and the pitch with only his left eye. In essence, either because of his growth in the past year (he had put on 3 inches) or because of a general stance change, he was viewing the pitch with one eye, causing his depth perception to be decreased. I recommended the coach train him to keep his chin farther away from his right shoulder and as Mike got more comfortable, his batting average improved dramatically.

But time to switch sports. Basketball and tennis players might have perfect “acuity”, or 20/20 vision or better, but be unable to deliver the ball where they need to. This might be because acuity is important for static objects, but something called Dynamic Acuity is important for traveling objects. Dynamic Visual Acuity is acuity when viewing a moving target, or when ones body is in motion against or past a stationary target. If an athlete has good acuity but is missing shots, they might need help achieving better dynamic acuity. Peripheral vision is also a major factor in basketball – knowing where the ball is and where your opponents are on the opposite side of your body is a skill that an athlete can build to increase their performance.  Football players are in need of a great range of visual skills that vary by position – the wide receiver must have great dynamic acuity, depth perception and hand eye coordination; offensive and defensive linemen must have excellent peripheral vision and quarterbacks must have all of the above including a great visual memory.

Swimmers can benefit from a relatively new technology called Orthokeratology. Also known as OrthoK or vision braces, it is a method which is used for people who need glasses or contact lenses so they can see perfectly without them without need for surgery. The OrthoK device looks and feels like a contact lens. The person puts it in their eye before bed and in most cases can remove it in the morning and go glasses and contact lens free for the entire day into the evening. If an athlete finds contact lenses uncomfortable, OrthoK can be a lifesaver. Swimmers are forced to leave glasses and contacts out and, if they’re lucky, have prescription goggles.

Marksmen and sharpshooters can increase contrast to shoot better, soccer players can increase eye-foot coordination, and golfers can benefit from eye-hand coordination help, acuity and stance improvements to maximize their game. Visual skills of many types are used by athletes to improve performance so if you are a professional athlete or weekend athlete, be sure to ask your optometrist about your vision status as it relates to your sport at your next eye examination.

Courtesy of the Doctors at Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care; Optometrists, Ophthalmologists and Opticians working together to help you see better.  Serving the Rockville, Potomac and Gaithersburg Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC for over 40 years. For more information visit youreyesite.com or call (301) 670-1212.

For more information about the connection between sports and contact lenses, visit www.mycontactsports.com.

About On Eye

On Eye is the contact lens blog from CooperVision. On this site, you will find insights about fitting, technology, and the business of contact lenses. The On Eye blog is designed to meet the needs of both Eye Care Practitioners and consumers. ECP and medical professional-specific portions of the blog will be password protected in order to protect and reserve the privacy of the profession. To read more about our terms of use, please see the Legal tab.

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