Dr. Charles Shidlofsky – The Use of Technology in Sports Vision
Since my days in Optometry school (30 years ago), I wanted to be involved in sports vision. In fact, my 4th year research project was working with a college baseball team. I have always thought if you can refine an individuals vision skills that it would provide an edge that other athletes may not have.
After graduating, I set myself up to do sports vision but I hit a lot of walls. The technology was very basic, there was difficulty recording and comparing data and very little research. Of course, this was also a time where only a handful of us had access to PC’s. College and Pro Sports teams had little or no interest around the country (outside of a few exceptions) in the science of sports vision and what it can provide for the athlete.
Step forward about 25 years and a few things have really changed. 1) the rapid increase in technology and the ability to track results more easily, 2) The repeatability of procedures, 3) The increasing interest in head injuries and concussions in the sports world. 4) More comfort in adapting these technologies by college and pro teams to get the edge and 5) last but certainly not least- the money that has been invested by parents, teams etc to further the athletes “career.”
One of the traditional instruments that was available to us 30 years ago, the Wayne Saccadic Fixator has also gone through a renaissance as such. Eyecarrot purchased Wayne Engineering a few years ago and have thoroughly modernized the equipment. For example, it is now wireless and works seamlessly with an Ipad. You can connect up to 8 “Binovi Touch” boards together and have them work seamlessly with each other. Several new activities have been added and many more are coming. Ultimately you will be able to track athletes by a variety of different pre-selected criteria. There are also other peripherals that are coming out soon that you will be able to add to look at balance, movement, reaction time etc.
The goals of using Binovi Touch
Improving visuospatial skills
Improve reaction time
Improve proaction time
Improve near/far performance
Improve cognitive reaction time
Improve visual accuracy
Currently the program has eleven modules
This trains rapid near/far accommodation. There is also an anti-suppression component on this as you can use red/blue or red/green glasses while doing this skill.
This skill works on visual memory and near/far. In addition, you can load this skill using red/green glasses with red/green targets. In this skill there are several lights light up on Binovi Touch and then you must transcribe them to the iPad in the same relative location.
The lights on the screen go in a horizontal pattern. In order to do this skill effectively, you must maintain attention, control and accuracy as the quicker you hit the lights, the higher the score.
Like the horizontal, except it works in the vertical meridian.
This is probably the most commonly used program as lights go off in a random pattern which requires excellent peripheral-central vision stability. In addition, it works on proaction skills as lights will turn off at a pre-determined time so you may miss some of the targets. In addition, you may do this with red/green glasses on by changing the targets to red and green.
Central and Peripheral
This trains saccadic tracking and peripheral awareness. This skill requires motivation, understanding, experience, purpose and motor control.
Eye Warm Up
As the name implies, you follow the blinking lights in a circle to get the vision system warmed up for therapy.
The peripheral lights light up in a zig-zag pattern. Once again, this requires good concentration and reaction time.
The three and nine o’clock light will light up and you are to hit them as fast as possible after they light up.
The lights move in a spiral at a chosen speed in a clockwise direction. This works on visual efficiency.
This is a go/no go activity. This activity is similar to Random except you will also see red lights periodically and you have to skip those lights and hit all of the green lights.
Most every activity is fully customizable. You can choose speed, target color etc.
This new “old” training tool has really up’ed its game so that we can up the game for the athlete. This device is starting to be installed in professional sports locker rooms under the guidance of Sports Vision ODs all around the country.
There is now a wonderful opportunity for OD’s to get involved in sports vision. AOA Sports Vision Committee and the International Sports Vision Association provide outstanding educational opportunities at their meetings as well as the ability to meet the vendors who are providing these new technologies.
About Dr. Charles Shidlofsky, O.D., FCOVD
Originally from New York, Dr. Shidlofsky now calls Dallas home where he runs his practice, Neuro-Vision Associates of North Texas. He has been very active in Neuro-developmental Optometry for most of his career and has developed and integrated many unique therapies that heve helped thousands of children who have struggled due to vision problems. His work has expanded to include traumatic and acquired brain injury, stroke, and other neurological processing problems. Dr. Shidlofsky’s experience with sports vision is extensive, serving as Team Vision Coach and Team Optometrist for FC Dallas (MLS), the Allen Ammericans (ECHL), and Texas Revolution (Arena Football).