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The Connection Between How Well You See and How Well You Play

In a game like baseball, carrots won’t do the trick to improve vision. Graham Erickson, OD, explains the visual challenges each player experiences and how to overcome them at the Arizona Fall League 2017.

 

 

America’s pastime is anything but easy to play. Dr. Erickson, author of Sports Vision: Vision Care for the Enhancement of Sports Performance, says that poor vision can keep you on the bench.

“Vision is a reason why sometimes kids can’t compete anymore. Baseball’s one of those sports that is designed to put you right at the edge of human possibility – how fast can you see something and react to it? Other things to think about is the height of the ball, the speed of the pitch and your swing mechanics; that doesn’t give a person a lot of time.”

Both visual acuity and reaction time are crucial in the game of baseball. A player can find himself in a tough spot in his career if either is lacking.

Paul Severino, a sportscaster for the MLB Network, agrees.

“I’ve heard it from pitchers who love the fact that hitters can’t see fastballs; it’s so hard to do. The importance of being able to see is paramount in this game.”

 

Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your vision and reaction time.

“We’ve learned a lot more about nutrition due to studies done on the aging eye and what can we do to preserve vision,” Erickson says. “If certain nutrients are going to preserve vision, what’s it going to do for a young healthy player? Lots of really good research now shows that the better you take in certain nutrients, the better you see.”

The most important nutrient for healthy vision is called zeaxanthin and can be found in bright colored fruits and vegetables. Zeaxanthin acts as your “internal sunglasses,” meaning it literally deflects light from harming your vision. We’re born with this nutrient, but our bodies are unable to reproduce it. This means we must get this nutrient through our diets. If we don’t eat foods that contain enough zeaxanthin, our vision is unprotected from harmful blue light and can be permanently damaged as we age. Age-related eye health issues are one of the leading causes of blindness in people 55 and up.

Dr. Erickson believes there are other things you can do as well to help improve your game.

“We kind of take vision for granted; that we see as well as we see, and there isn’t much we can do other than go out and play more. But, certainly, there are training activities, proper (vision) correction, and filters (sunglasses) that can sometimes help on a day when lighting isn’t that good. Those are all things that, in addition to nutrition, can help us see the best we can.”

The best way to improve your game is to educate yourself on how nutrition and vision are connected. Don’t wait!

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