2nd Pillar of Sports Vision Testing
Evaluation of the eye muscle systems and spatial judgment in sport
After establishing that an athlete has adequate quality of input, this step evaluates the accuracy of that input. Many will use the term “depth perception” to define this step in the evaluation process; however, “depth perception” is a concept that contains many variables.
We will discuss the specific skill sets in this phase of testing. Each one of these visual skill sets play a role in the overall perception of depth and accurate spatial judgments in sport.
Eye alignment- Different mechanisms exist to evaluate an athletes' eye posture in both a horizontal and vertical plane. Deviations in eye posture could be a negative factor in attempting to use the eyes together as a unit to localize a target in space.
Vergence Testing- Evaluation of the eye's muscle system's ability to compensate for deviations in posture and to accurately locate targets in space.
Accommodation- Evaluation of the eye muscle system's ability to rapidly shift and continue consistent clarity of an object when moving in space.
Stereopsis- The athlete's ability to perceive three dimensional space
Eye Tracking- The synchronization of the eyes together as a unit when tracking a target in all directions of gaze.
If deficiencies are found in these skill sets, athlete's may be prescribed prism lenses to redirect rays of light from outside targets to aid in fusion or muscular and/or neuromuscular therapy can be used to help build strength and flexibility in vergence or accommodation. The end goal is to lessen any degree of postural deviation, increase speed and efficiency of eye movements, and establish maximum capabilities in eye tracking and compensatory muscle movements. The may allow the athlete to most accurately judge their position in space to hopefully avoid injury and complete the athletic task and/or to more precisely judge the flight of a target moving in the athlete's visual field.
The degree to which an athlete can establish and maintain spatial judgement will help them to determine "where" the play is at and to help with judging timing. These visual skills are critical for successful play.