What an experience! Last month, Adelaide City Optometrist was given the opportunity to help some of the nation’s best cricket players learn about their vision at Adelaide Oval. Combining general eye checks and specific sports vision testing, we were able to help players understand their eyes and the impact they have on their playing performance.
We spent one morning informing players on their colour blindness, depth perception, reaction time, contrast sensitivity, eye tracking/movement and vision therapy programs. Read on to learn more about the enhanced visual testing we did and what it can tell the athletes.
Every year, Adelaide City Optometrist visit Adelaide Oval to test the South Australian Cricket Association members. This is to ensure that all the players are up to date on their vision checks and aware of their current eye condition. Our most basic visual skills help us with sports aspects such as our hand eye coordination which can drastically affect our athletic performance.
Many of us forget particularly when we are young, that our eyes are one of our biggest tools. We use our eyes in every aspect of our daily lives and sometimes we can take them for granted. Vision is something that also cannot be overlooked as an athlete. Maintaining your eye health as an athlete helps you in all aspects of your sporting game such as tracking the ball and staying balanced.
Paul helped some of the Redbacks learn that they’re short or long-sighted due to long periods without an eye test. Being aware of these issues can help to manage the conditions correctly and prevent further eye disease and problems.
Conor McInerney in his ZEISS Smartlife Lenses
THE BEST VISION EYE TEST IN ADELAIDE
Vision is more than 20/20 on the chart. To ensure the athlete’s vision is at a high standard, the test’s include eye-tracking and reaction testing. Examples of this include following an object and jumping from target to target.
Here at Adelaide City Optometrist we are one of the few optometrists to offer this kind of technology for sports vision testing in Australia and the only optometrist to offer it in Adelaide.
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF SPORTS PERFORMANCE?
Sports performance is highly dependent on the health and skill related components of fitness. (Power, speed, agility, reaction time, balance and body composition coordination) The level of these components are determined with various tests and this can tell us how the professional athletes are trained.
We use 2 devices which have the ability to track the users individual eye movements. The first device works in the form of a virtual reality headset, using 8 small cameras on the inside to view your eye movements from every angle. We use this device specifically to take baselines for concussion and view the effects on your eye health. The testing also tracks your eye fatigue and the ability to focus on an object with a changing background.
The second device is in the form of a large tablet that you sit in front of. This device has the ability to test our reaction time and our cognitive ability to make fast decisions. This program also gives each user an athlete participating score out of 100 with specifics on areas they need to improve. This feedback is highly beneficial for coaches as they can compare their players weaknesses and strengths to use to their benefit.
WHAT TESTING METHODS ARE USED?
The first is Saccades which are primarily directed towards stationary targets, the second track’s moving targets (smooth pursuits) and the third is a reaction time test.
Saccades are a test which learns how the patient’s eyes jump or follow objects when moving in linear or circular motions. We used 2 visual systems to help players learn about these abilities including a virtual reality headset and a computer tracking activity.
These two tests help us to find out if there is a certain area where our eyes are weaker or where we hold a blind spot. For a cricket athlete, this might mean having weaker eyes when looking downwards, affecting their ability to hit a bouncing bowl.
REACTION TIME TEST
In most sports, an athlete has minimal time for a mental decision and most rely on anticipation and visual cues to make a decision. Luckily, reaction time can be improved by training the reflexive response.
When considering our reaction time, there’s two scenarios we need to consider:
Regular Reaction Time – where we just measure the ability to react to something we know is coming
Processing Reaction Time – where we measure the ability to react to a changing scenario
In cricket, reaction time is used in all aspects whether your position is in fielding or batting. The close in-fielders heavily rely on their reaction time to catch fast-paced balls so they don’t make it to the boundary line. Whereas whilst batting, the processing reaction time is used to read the ball’s movement/trajectory and pick the best time to make connection with the bat.
Colour blindness is a common defect which affects 1 in every 12 men and 1 in every 20 women. The most common colour defects are red and green which mean for cricket players who suffer from these defects specifically there can be some major difficulties. A red and green defect in cricket means large difficulty in tell a red ball apart from the green grass it is rolling on.
When selecting sunglasses to wear whilst playing sport, it is valuable to take into consideration more than the look and the brand. A specific colour of lenses can help those with colour defects correct their vision. There are also specific colours of lenses recommended for sports not just on personal vision defects.Check out our guide here one what colour lenses you should be wearing.
Protection eyewear or sports goggles are also another option to consider when playing sports, specifically for children. For many sports, eye protection is often overlooked with many of us choosing to wear contact lenses instead of wearing full face protection. Every year thousands of athletes of all ages and genders suffer eye injuries including some with irreparable damage. If you’re interested in a pair, ask our optometrist Paul Fotkou about our available options and what he believes would be best for you.
The optical labs allow us to create wraps on glasses to suit each individual’s purpose. We have a variety of Smith frames in store as well as some Adidas.
We also provide a wide variety of contact lenses including transition lenses to help players see clearly on the field without the limitations of glasses. Transition contact lenses allow the wearer to safely be in the sun seeing clearly whilst protecting their eyes from sun damage.
Tegan Mcpharlin loves her Acuvue Transition contact lenses when playing on the field.
90% of the information transmitted to our brain is visual. Every decision we make consists of four parts: visual, perceptual, cognitive and an action response. With the correct training and management, any athlete can better these skills to see an overall performance increase. Sports vision training is what can help turn a good athlete, into a great athlete. If you’re wanting to improve your game, book an appointment or call us today.