Eye on Performance Sports Vision TrainingDAN GUTTENPLAN ROBERT BUONFIGLIO
Many people think of vision as something that naturally gets weaker with age. On the contrary, it is actually an attribute that can be strengthened and developed – much like any other weakness that can be honed through training.
DR. BARRY SEILLER is an ophthalmologist based out of Chicago who works with a wide variety of football players ranging from youth to professional. His Vizual Edge eye training technology is used by dozens of professional athletes. When Seiller administers a vision test, he uses a standard eyesight test (i.e. 20/20) as the visual baseline.
“If you have reduced eyesight, the rest will be compromised,” Seiller said. “Once you’ve established that someone has good eyesight, the rest of the visual system becomes more important.”
Seiller is particularly interested in the effects concussions have on vision. He said that while many players maintain 20/20 vision after concussions, the other aspects of his visual system are likely compromised. Those aspects include the alignment of two eyes, depth perception, ocular flexibility and visual recognition.
If a football player’s eye alignment is damaged, his judgment of a ball in free space will be compromised. If his depth perception is damaged, he will struggle to see the spin on a pass as well as trajectory. If his ocular flexibility is damaged, he will struggle to identify objects that are moving toward or away from him – like another player or a ball. And if his visual recognition is off, he may struggle to recognize situations that have occurred before, such as a play call or receiving route.
“When people are evaluating receivers in football, it always comes down to whether they have good hands,” Seiller said. “When people have bad hands, they typically lack something in their visual system that would allow them to close their hands on the ball at the correct instant.”
Seiller’s Vizual Edge Performance Trainer serves as a means for athletes to improve their vision after an initial diagnosis to determine which aspects of their visual system are weakest. It is in internet-based program that allows anyone to train and enhance deficiencies through tracking exercises and other drills.
“It’s like weight-training or a treadmill,” Seiller said. “You build up strength in certain areas through training over a six- to eight-week period.”
Robert A. Buonfiglio is an optometrist who started Eye on Performance Sports Vision Training in Saugus, Mass. He, too, uses a computer-based program for training purposes with his clients. He also oversees hand-eye coordination drills in his office. One includes athletes tracking balls hanging from the ceiling. Another has athletes tracking moving objects while standing on a balance board. A third has athletes standing over a table with flashing lights, and the client must touch the area as it lights.
“As a football moves closer, it begins to move faster than our eyes are capable of tracking,” Buonfiglio said. “It’s called saccadic movement, and receivers have to make a jump to estimate when it will pass through their hands. We have ways of measuring that and helping football players improve in that area.”
ULTIMEYES is the first program designed to challenge your vision and track progress as performance improves in ULTIMEYES. Based on principles of Vision Science ULTIMEYES delivers a unique experience tailored and optimized to each individual using a proprietary adaptive algorithm. Visual performance is measured by reaction time, contrast level and accuracy.
The Vizual Edge Performance Trainer delivers a series of 3-D computer-based sports vision improvement tools. The program can be accessed from your home or training facility. You’ll complete a carefully designed series of evaluation and training exercises using a joystick, mouse or keyboard. The 3-D exercises sharpen your peripheral awareness and your visual memory as well as the speed, efficiency and accuracy of your visual information processing.
Athletes of all ages and levels train on Dynavision devices to improve reaction time, peripheral visual awareness, and decision making under stress. These advantages develop better field vision and help to avoid being caught off-guard. Professionals to high school athletes have customized programs that are sport and position specific. The D2™ has been used as a tool for concussion prevention.