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The Importance of Binocular Vision in Sports

The Importance of Binocular Vision in Sports 640Binocular vision is the ability to create a single image with both eyes while maintaining visual focus on an object. Sometimes our eyes fail to integrate visual information into one coherent image. This integration is important, as it allows athletes to perceive three-dimensional depth and relationships between people or objects, such as another player or a ball.

Since each eye is in a different position relative to any object, the eyes convey slightly different spatial information and send these varying images to the brain. The brain then uses the differences between the signals from the two eyes to accurately judge depth, speed, and distance.

When binocular vision isn’t operating at peak capacity, it impacts an athlete’s reaction time and the speed and accuracy of their movements.

Reduced binocular vision doesn’t mean that athletes are constantly falling over or fumbling. What it does mean, however, is that they may misjudge the velocity or direction of a ball, or collide more with other players.

How Does Reduced Binocular Vision Affect Athletes?

When our brain and eyes don’t work efficiently as a team, especially while playing sports, it can affect timing, depth perception, reactions, accuracy, and speed.

Visual deficits hinder how an athlete responds to what they see. If there is an issue with a player’s vision, there will most likely be an issue with their balance and body awareness.

Visual Skills Needed For Sports

There are many visual skills athletes need to perform their best during a game.

Accommodation – is the eyes’ ability to change their focus from distant to near objects and vice versa. For example, when a football player looks at other players coming toward them, then shifts focus to the ball on the field.

Binocular Vision – is the ability to maintain visual focus on an object, creating a single visual image with both eyes. Without binocular vision athletes cannot accurately measure distance and depth.

Depth Perception – is the ability to distinguish the distance to, or between, objects. This is important for athletes when they need to hit or interact with moving objects.

Dynamic Visual Acuity – the ability to see a moving object when a player is stationary, or when the object is still and the athlete is in motion. It’s the eyes’ ability to visually discern detail in a moving object, such as a player’s number on a jersey.

Peripheral Vision – is the ability to see objects and movement outside of your direct line of vision. This is important for athletes, especially when they need to run down a field and be able to see other players coming at them from all directions.

Saccades – quick, rapid, simultaneous eye movements between two or more stationary objects in the same direction. For athletes it’s important to be able to see stationary objects, such as a hoop at the end of the court.

Smooth Pursuits – reflexive eye movements that are required when tracking an object through an environment, such as a flying ball. Instead of the eye moving in jumps, it moves smoothly.

Sports Vision Training

Sports vision training can improve all the visual skills an athlete needs to succeed at their game. Even if an athlete has ‘20/20 eyesight’ they may still have reduced binocular vision, and sports vision can help improve any lagging visual skills. Sports vision is an individualized training program that focus on improving visual skills so that athletes can improve their performance.

The ability to enhance an athlete’s sports vision skills is a proven way to improve performance. To learn more about how sports vision training can help you reach your goals, contact us at The Sports Vision Centre At Village Eye Centre today.

The Sports Vision Centre At Village Eye Centre serves patients from Edmonton, Sherwood Park, St. Albert, and Fort Saskatchewan, all throughout Alberta.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. James Evans

 

Q: What is sports vision training?

  • A: Sports vision training is a customized program that improves the communication between your brain, eyes, and body. It helps athletes process information more accurately and react faster to what they see on the field.

Q: Why is sports vision training important?

  • A: Athletes in visually demanding sports need to have exceptional visual skills. This is true for all sports, where the ability to focus, react quickly, and move fast can mean the difference not only between winning and losing, but between incurring an injury and staying safe.


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2 Ways Strong Peripheral Vision Can Help You Avoid Sports Injuries

football player 640Did you know that 80% of what the brain processes during a sports game comes via the eyes, and that much of that input is transmitted from our peripheral vision?

Peripheral vision, also known as peripheral awareness, enables us to detect and see things that aren’t right in front of us when we are looking straight ahead. Athletes with poor peripheral awareness may not realize that a player or ball is coming toward them from the side, putting them at higher risk of injury while playing sports.

One way to improve peripheral awareness is through sports vision training, a customized program that improves the communication between your eyes, brain, and body while playing sports. These learned visual skills can be useful in so many other areas of life as well. The sports vision program is offered by optometrists trained in sports vision training.

Why is Peripheral Vision Critical to Playing Sports?

Peripheral vision is an often overlooked aspect of sports performance. Well developed peripheral vision is essential in sports like football, where the players need to be aware of the sudden movement on either side of them. When football players dash across the field, their peripheral vision helps guide their path.

Improving peripheral vision can also help you avoid sports injuries. It can help athletes avoid or brace themselves for a collision or detect a fast-moving object approaching from the side. Additionally, sports vision training can help an athlete improve reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and processing speed.

Eye Exercises to Improve Peripheral Awareness

Here are 2 home-based eye exercises that may improve an athlete’s peripheral vision. Note: these are not a substitute for a comprehensive vision training program offered by a sports vision optometrist.

  • Awareness Drill

One way to improve peripheral vision is to stop what you’re doing and focus on being aware of what is in your peripheral fields.

  • Stop and “be present”
  • Pick a target to look at anywhere from 3 to 10 feet away
  • While looking straight ahead, take note of what you can see around you – to your left and right, and up and down
  • Test yourself: Pick out specific details, then confirm by looking directly at the object.

The goal of this exercise is to stretch your vision farther and enhance your ability to focus on things on either side of you. It’s an easy drill that can lead to a noticeable improvement in your peripheral awareness.

  • Wall Ball

This exercise requires just a wall and a ball, such as a tennis ball.

  • Find a spot on the wall to look at, just above eye level
  • Throw the ball against the wall, bouncing it from your left hand and catching it with your right hand and then back again
  • While you are throwing the ball, keep looking at the spot on the wall and not directly at the ball. Instead, use your peripheral vision to detect the ball’s flight and position in space

You will most likely drop the ball a few times while you get used to the exercise. It will take some practice to get your eyes to relax enough to be able to do this. Once you master one level, try to think of ways to challenge yourself by making this exercise more difficult. You should try doing this once a day, for 10-15 minutes.

Peripheral vision awareness is one of the visual skills most necessary for safety while playing sports. Having good peripheral vision awareness could keep you from getting hit by a frisbee at the park, or from taking a bad hit while on the court or field.


Taking the necessary steps to improve your peripheral awareness can not only improve your game but protect you from injury. Contact Dr. James Evans to learn more about vision therapy.

The Sports Vision Centre At Village Eye Centre serves patients from , Sherwood Park, St. Albert, and Fort Saskatchewan, throughout Alberta.

 

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Sports-Related Eye Injuries

September Is Sports Eye Safety Month in North Edmonton!

Ocular sports trauma is among the leading causes of permanent vision loss in North America. Tens of thousands of people get treated for sports-related eye injuries a year, with the most common injuries occurring during water sports and basketball. Infections, corneal abrasions, eye socket fractures, and detached retinas are just a few of the typical cases eye doctors encounter on a regular basis.

Sports Eye Safety Month is sponsored by Prevent Blindness America (PBA) to remind people to protect their eyes when playing sports. Though young children are usually the most vulnerable to eye injuries, it should be noted that professional athletes can also suffer eye injuries while on the job.

Eye accidents can happen in a split second – the effects can last a lifetime…

By wearing protective eyewear, you can safeguard your eyesight without compromising on your favorite sports activities. Athletes who wear contact lenses still need additional eye protection for relevant sports.

At Village Eye Centre, our eye doctor is experienced and trained to treat sports-induced eye injuries sustained by our active patients. Dr. James Evans and our dedicated staff are committed to providing the most comprehensive eye care to help get you back on the field again. Furthermore, we provide consultations on a wide array of protective eyewear for all your sporting needs.

What Eye Injuries Can Be Caused by Sports?

Corneal Abrasion

A corneal abrasion, also known as a scratched cornea, is the most common sports-related eye injury. When someone gets poked in the eye, the eye’s surface can get scratched. Symptoms may include acute pain and a gritty or foreign body sensation in the eyes, as well as redness, tearing, light sensitivity, headaches, blurry or decreased vision. Medical care includes prevention or treatment of infection, and pain management. If you suspect that you have suffered a corneal abrasion, make sure to see an eye doctor right away.

Traumatic Iritis

Iritis is an inflammation of the iris, the colored part of the eye. The condition rapidly develops and typically affects only one eye. Symptoms include pain in the eye or brow region, blurred vision, a small or oddly-shaped pupil, and sensitivity to bright lights.

Hyphema

Hyphema is among the more common sports-related eye injuries, with racquet sports, baseball and softball accounting for more than 50% of all hyphema injuries in athletics.

A hyphema is a broken blood vessel inside the eye which causes blood to collect in the space between the cornea and iris, also known as the “anterior chamber”. Although the main symptom is blood in the eye, it can be accompanied by blurry or distorted vision, light sensitivity or eye pain.

If you recognize the signs and symptoms of hyphema, make sure to seek immediate medical attention in order to avoid secondary complications.

Angle recession

Angle recession can develop from an eye injury or bruising of the eye, caused by getting punched, elbowed, or hit with a ball. The trauma damages the fluid drainage system of the eye, which causes it to back up, increasing the pressure in the eye. In 20% of people with angle recession, this pressure can become so severe that it damages the optic nerve, and causes glaucoma (known as “angle-recession glaucoma”).

You may not notice any symptoms at first, and it may take years before you experience any signs of vision loss. Therefore, it’s critical to visit the eye doctor as soon as possible for a complete eye exam and make sure that you follow-up with routine screenings.

Retinal tear or detachment

Retinal detachment is a condition in which the retina gets lifted or pulled away from its normal position at the back of the eye. If not treated immediately, retinal detachment can develop permanent vision loss.

Symptoms include seeing flashing lights, floaters or little black spots in your vision. A retinal detachment is a medical emergency and requires an eye doctor’s immediate attention – surgical intervention may be necessary.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This happens when a blood vessel breaks on the white part of the eye. In addition to a sport-related injury, it can be induced by rubbing the eye, heavy lifting, sneezing or coughing. For those with subconjunctival hemorrhage, the eye appears intensely red – though this minor condition will often clear up within a couple weeks on its own without treatment.

Orbital Fracture

This occurs when one or more of the bones around the eyeball break, often caused by a hard blow to the face – such as by a baseball or a fist. This is a major injury and should be assessed by an eye doctor, like Dr. James Evans, along with X-Rays or CT scan imaging to help confirm the diagnosis.

Black Eye or Periorbital Hematoma

A “shiner” can occur when a blunt object such as a fist or ball strikes the eye-area of the face and causes bruising. Typically, this kind of injury affects the face more than the eye. Blurry vision may be a temporary symptom, but it’s a good idea to get a black eye checked out by an optometrist in any case, because sometimes there is accompanying damage to the eye which could impact vision.

How Does One Prevent Sports-Related Eye Injuries?

One of the most important things one can do in order to prevent eye injuries is to wear protective eyewear. In fact, wearing eye protection should be part of any athlete’s routine, and should be prioritized just like wearing shin guards or a helmet.

Below are a few tips to prevent sports-related eye injuries:

  • Wear safety goggles (with polycarbonate lenses) for racquet sports or basketball. For the best possible protection, the eye guard or sports protective eyewear should be labeled “ASTM F803 approved” – which means it is performance tested.
  • Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for baseball.
  • If you wear prescription eyewear, speak with Dr. James Evans about fitting you for prescription protective eyewear.
  • Sports eye protection should be comfortably padded along the brow and bridge of the nose, to prevent the eye guards from cutting into the skin.
  • Try on protective eyewear to assess whether it’s the right fit and size for you and adjust the straps as needed. For athletic children who are still growing, make sure that last-year’s pair still fits before the new sports season begins. Consult Dr. James Evans to determine whether the comfort and safety levels are adequate.
  • Keep in mind that regular glasses don’t provide nearly enough eye protection when playing sports.

For athletes, whether amateur or pro, there is so much more at stake than just losing the game. Fortunately, by wearing high-quality protective eyewear, you can prevent 90% of all sports-related eye injuries.

Speak with Dr. James Evans at Village Eye Centre about getting the right sports-related protective eyewear to ensure healthy eyes and clear vision. Our eye care clinic serves patients from North Edmonton and the surrounding areas.

At Village Eye Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you build up healthy sports vision. Call us today: 587-410-5920 or book an appointment online to see one of our North Edmonton eye doctors.

Want to Learn More? Read on!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. James Evans

Q: What is Sports Vision?

  • A: Sports vision is a specific discipline of optometric practice focused on the evaluation, remediation, and enhancement of the visual performance of athletes.

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9 Tips on How to Protect Your Eyes in the Sun

Bright advice from your North Edmonton, Alberta, eye doctor

The sun can damage more than just your skin, and your eyes are particularly at risk. Ultraviolet rays can lead to a variety of health problems, such as eye and eyelid cancer and photokeratitis, which is like a sunburn on your cornea. Overexposure to UV rays can also raise your chances of cataracts in the future. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to protect your vision. Our North Edmonton, Alberta, eye doctor at Village Eye Centre has prepared the following list:

1. UV Protection

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage your retina and the lasting health of your eyes. That’s why it is essential to wear sunglasses that provide protection against 100% of UV light and hazardous blue light rays. Don’t be tempted into buying cheap low quality sunglasses, or your vision can pay a steep price. Take care to purchase your sunglasses from an optical store you can trust, and not from a trending department store at the local mall.

2. Introducing the E-SPF®3 index

Our North Edmonton, Alberta, eye doctor recommends purchasing sunglasses with lenses that have E-SPF®3, a gauge to measure UV reflections from the front and back surfaces of the lens. Ultimate protection for your eyes can be found in lenses with E-SPF® 50+, the highest level of the index.

3. Darker is not better

Ultra-dark sunglasses lenses prompt your pupil to dilate wider, which can allow a larger amount of UV rays and dangerous blue light to enter. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, very dark tinted sunglasses can actually be worse for your eyes over time.

4. Vision is for life – start with sun safety for kids

The effects of UV exposure are cumulative, and studies show that approximately 85% of UV damage actually occurs during childhood – before 18 ½ years old. This statistic is primarily to blame on the fact that most kids don’t wear sunglasses with adequate UV protection. When you purchase your kids’ wardrobe for sunny days, be sure to stop by your nearby optical store to choose a stylish, quality pair of sunglasses.

5. Sunglasses contact lenses put an end to squinting

Sunglasses are not always the most convenient eyewear for protecting your vision while you’re working up a sweat outdoors. They can slip down your nose, fog up, or accumulate water drops from the ocean spray. Other than squinting, how else can you limit the effects of the sun’s bright rays? Sunglasses contact lenses are a new, breakthrough solution. These dynamic contacts have Transitions technology that darken in response to UV rays, just like photochromic glasses lenses do.

6. Put on a hat

A wide brimmed hat is a fantastic way to keep your eyes in the shade, protected from the sun. Even if you always wear sunglasses when you head outdoors, you are leaving your eye area vulnerable to sun rays that can get in through gaps along the sides of your frames. A hat with a brim that’s at least 3 inches wide will eliminate those gaps.

7. Watch the clock

Be aware of when the sun is shines strongest and stay indoors during those hours. You may be surprised to learn that your exposure to the highest amounts of UV radiation is actually in the early morning hours and throughout the mid-afternoon – and not at noon, like most people believe.

8. The design of your frames matters

While most discussions about UV protection revolve around the type of lenses that are in your sunglasses, our North Edmonton, Alberta, optometrist points out that the style of your frames is also significant. Wrap-around sunglasses provide the most coverage for your eyes and sensitive skin that surrounds them.

9. Keep chemicals out of your eyes

Sunscreen is a staple for outdoor safety. However, if you get sunscreen in your eyes it can cause many painful symptoms, including redness and severe stinging. Take care not to smear large globs of sunscreen close to your eyes. Thicker sunscreen creams, as opposed to runny lotions that may drip into your eyes, are recommended for the facial area.

We sell a wide range of stylish premium sunglasses for adults and children – with full UV protection – at our North Edmonton, Alberta, optical store. Stop by anytime to take a look!

At Village Eye Centre, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 587-410-5920 or book an appointment online to see one of our North Edmonton eye doctors.

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