Sports and Eye Health

Published 29 Jul 2021

Most of us have a competitive streak and love to win when playing games, and this includes sport. Strength training, agility and selecting the right time of day can all support your sports success, but it is also important to recognise that your vision is the key factor that ensures the muscles of the body move efficiently and effectively.

Different sports require varying visual needs, and it is important for your optometrist to recognise and understand what may be involved and what you require. Below are some examples of the visual tasks involved in different sports:

Static vs non-static
Static task demands are those in which the target is stationary, allowing for a steady image to be processed. For example: golf, archery, lawn bowls and netball. Non-static demands are those in which the target is in motion, requiring you to constantly change target focus. These may include football, clay pigeon shooting and cricket.

Dynamic vs non-dynamic
Although similar to the above, dynamic refers to when an athlete or player is moving. These may seem similar but believe it or not, keeping track of a moving target and keeping fixation whilst an athlete moves require a very different type of eye movement!

Contrast levels
The judgement of contrast levels is a common visual task in sports such as soccer and skiing. In soccer, the spin of the ball and ability to see the contrast of the ball pattern is useful for the athlete. When skiing or snowboarding, being able to distinguish the subtle changes in terrain will allow you to safely navigate your way down the slope.

Colour vision
An adequate colour analysis in any sport can also play a big role. For example, for someone who is colour-blind, sports games may be a challenge, as it may take them longer to distinguish between the team colour jerseys, resulting in a slower response.

Distance vs near
Most sporting activities require clear vision for distances beyond three metres, however, sports such as billiards involve near and intermediate focus.

If you are experiencing difficulties with any of the above tasks, a visit to your optometrist can support you and make these tasks easier. Having adequate correction and lens design may support you, but your optometrist may also consider polarised or sports-specific tints to your sunglasses and specialised contact lenses. The team at GMHBA Eye Care will be able to guide you towards the right eyewear for you.

Finally, eye injuries in the sporting field can have large, and possibly long-lasting consequences. Although an injury to your eye may seem superficial and heal relatively quickly, it may cause damage to the back of the eyeball and require immediate protection. Ensuring you have adequate protective eyewear can shield your eyes from potential hazards.

We recommend making an appointment with your optometrist should you have any concerns, especially if you are experiencing eye-related flashes of lights, floaters, decreased vision, lingering redness or pain.

Book an appointment at GMHBA Eye Care today.