How Vision Therapy Improves Visual Skills for Sports
Practice doesn't always make perfect when you have a vision problem. Even mild vision issues can affect your child's ability to catch a pass, follow a ball, or keep track of the action around them. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to enhance your child's vision.
1. Buy Sports Goggles
Sports goggles not only reduce eye injuries but can boost your child's performance. Polarized goggles reduce glare on sunny days, while tinted lenses improve contrast and the ability to see a ball against the sky. Goggles are available with and without prescription lenses.
2. Encourage Your Child to Play on the Computer
Some computer games can help your child refine important visual skills. Memory games improve your child's visual memory and visual discrimination, the ability to quickly tell the difference between images. Whack-a-mole and other games that require quick reactions can improve your child's hand-eye coordination, while shooting games may make it easier to see things out of the corner of the eye.
3. Try Vision Therapy
Vision therapy helps the brain and eyes work together more effectively. Before therapy starts, your child receives a comprehensive eye examination from a vision therapist. The examination helps the therapist identify vision issues that could affect your child's sports performance.
During therapy, your child participates in games and activities that improve and strengthen their visual abilities. Vision therapy is an excellent idea whether your child competes in team sports or needs a little help balancing while riding a bike.
In one vision therapy study conducted in Germany, teen field hockey players who received vision therapy quickened their reaction time and improved their peripheral vision after just six weeks of therapy.
Therapy can improve these key vision functions:
- Hand-Eye Coordination. It's difficult to accurately strike a ball with a bat or racquet, maintain your balance during karate class, or kick, catch, or throw a ball if you have poor hand-eye coordination.
- Visual Memory. Your child uses visual memory constantly during a game. If visual memory is poor, it may be difficult to remember where other players are, which could make it easier for an opposing player to steal the ball from your child.
- Tracking. It's impossible to catch a ball or accurately guess where it will land if you have trouble following it with your eyes.
- Focusing. Switching focus from near objects to the action at the end of the field requires precise coordination of the eye muscles. If your child's focusing ability is poor, they will waste crucial seconds trying to catch up with the action on the field.
- Visual Discrimination. Visual discrimination makes it possible to notice subtle differences between objects and colors while quickly spotting a ball in the grass.
- Eye Teaming. Both eyes must work together for sharp, clear vision. If your child has an eye teaming issue, he or she may experience double vision or depth perception issues that affect their ability to excel in sports.
- Visual Processing. Light impulses travel from the eyes to the brain where they're processed into recognizable images. Although this usually happens instantaneously, it can be slightly delayed if your son or daughter has a visual processing problem. Processing delays may increase the odds that your child will accidentally pass the ball to the opposing team or have trouble following the coach's instructions.
- Peripheral Vision. Good peripheral (side) vision is essential for every sport. Without it, your child may have trouble anticipating a steal or fail to notice that the other team now has the ball.
Your child's vision therapist can also help them determine which eye is dominant. Identifying the dominant eye can improve your child's accuracy whether they play tennis, golf, or hockey or want to get better at archery, target shooting, or gymnastics.
Vision therapy offers an effective solution for many sports issues. If your child struggles with sports basics or has reached a performance plateau, they could benefit from vision therapy. Give us a call to get the process started.