Last month we met with cricket SA’s rising star Ellie Falconer to help improve her vision and sporting abilities with some specialised tests available at Adelaide City Optometrist. We spoke with Ellie about the importance of vision care, sports vision and how big a role it plays in sport today.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH PLAYING PROFESSIONAL SPORT?
When I was young, I went through the pathways and state development programs. This then lead to me representing state sides such as the Scorpions and Strikers which was a great achievement for myself. There has always been the opportunity to play in the women’s leagues and it’s great to see how much the women’s side has developed in the past couple of years. People are starting to become more aware of us and show more interest in our games as well. The boys have actually been a great support system for us and have really helped to build up the women’s league too.
HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IS VISION TO SPORT?
Extremely important (laughs), cricket especially. I mean vision is important to every sport but in cricket if you can’t see the ball it makes the game extremely difficult. Imagine trying to bowl, bat or field about without even being able to see it haha. SACA are very supportive though. They encourage us to receive annual vision checks to make sure we’re looking after our eyes properly. SACA also push you to get the help if they can see something that you may not be able to.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DIFFICULTIES WITH VISION A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE LIKE YOURSELF CAN FACE?
Because we’re constantly in the sun, sun damage is something that has been brought up a lot to us in the past. Some of the things I have personally faced in the past are distance vision, such as fielding on the boundary, being able to pick up the speed of a ball and tracking the ball when batting. Many of the girls in the team wear contacts now and more, more athletes are realising the important of caring for you vision. 90% of the team now wear sunglasses when they play because they’re wanting to look after their eyes.
HOW HAS VISITING ADELAIDE CITY OPTOMETRIST HELPED YOUR VISION AND SPORTING ABILITIES?
When I was younger I did realise that in the classroom I had some difficulty seeing far away objects and took some test but they never really seemed to help much. Visiting Paul has helped me a lot not just in sport but also my day-to-day life. In terms of vision, the training and what he’s done for me has slowed everything down when I’m playing, helping me to filter fielding balls and track where they’re going. Paul has also been great in explaining to me the how and why’s of what is happening to my vision and how I can prolong its life.
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO OTHER ATHLETES REGARDING THEIR VISION?
They need to get an eye test ASAP. It was one of the best things I ever did and make sure that after you get the first test, you’re taking the recommended visits per year. If you’re struggling to see specifically, it’s important to get help. I’ve seen a big improvement not just in my vision but my game as well which is all thanks to Paul.
Are you familiar with the benefits of sports vision training?
In sports, almost 80% of perceptual input is visual. But even 20/20 vision does not mean athletes are performing at their best. Objects just don’t just sit there. They move. Fast. Our world is a moving world in constant interaction. How we co-ordinated our vision with our eye movement and then how this information is processed by our brains is critical.
Regular eye exams may reveal that you can see clearly, but they can’t tell you how well you ascertain where a ball is in space, how fast it is travelling or if it is changing direction.
That is why we offer vision testing designed specifically for athletes. Using state of the art eye -tracking technology, we can measure the specific vision skills that affect reflexes and hand-eye coordination, including:
- Eye movement speed
- Visual processing speed
- Smooth visual pursuit
- Dynamic visual focus
- Simple reaction time
- Choice reaction time
- Binocular vision skills
- Visual concentration
- Contrast Sensitivity
Our Sports Optometry Eye test is a first for Adelaide. The assessment analyses your eye movement, brain processing and reaction times against peers, amateurs and pro athletes.
The optometrist will be able identify opportunities for improvement and customise a plan for you. And in just a few weeks, you could be upping your game.