My thoughts about vision testing was well represented in an article that was just published in Men's Health. Please click here to read the article.
As I drove into the Country Club at Landfall to give a talk on eyes and golf earlier this evening, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the houses, golf course and community looked. This golf community in Wilmington, NC boasts of 27 holes designed by Jack Nicklaus, 18 holes by Pat Dye, and is located a next to the Atlantic Ocean. One really begins to feel the affluence of this country when imagining all the other golf communities and their glory scattered up and down our oceans on both sides.
Since Michael Jordan's 50th birthday was two days ago, I began my talk with a story about when I played in the Michael Jordan Celebrity Golf tournament in 1993 in Chicago. The Chicago Bulls had won the NBA title that year and Michael's father was killed in the summer. Charles Barkley ended up filling in for Michael as the host for the event. Before this year would end, Michael would retire from basketball and start playing professional baseball.
In my story, I relayed how my foursome ended up scoring very well, despite the fact that one golfer couldn't mentally settle down for most of his drives to land a ball in play and another player was constantly pointing his body as if he were going to hit the ball to the far left. I think I struck a chord with the crowd because only after a few minutes into my story one gentleman blurted out that he wanted me to hurry up and give my tips!
Golf, like many sports, can be very frustrating. It's a sport that demands that you repetitively do the task in a correct manner and the littlest deviation will change with your outcome. When we become seasoned athletes, our bodies begin to change how we do things and can create even more issues. That's why it's important to start the assessment of your play by looking at what your eyes do.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit" -- Aristotle.
My five tips of the evening:
1. Eye position: Golfers should place their dominant eye directly over the striking edge of the ball as the putt. As you move down through the numbers of the golf clubs, your eye position can move away from the perpendicular (towards you) to a maximum of 10 to 20 degrees off the 90th degree mark when using your driver.
2. Golfers miss to the side of their better seeing eye. (That's why it's important to go to the eye doctor to keep seeing your best).
3. Some golfers visual perception of straight ahead is actually skewed off to the left or right which can be measured and calibrated. (Read See To Play)
4. Be mentally prepared (visualization and visual noise are discussed in See To Play)
5. There are eye exercises designed to help with eye alignment found in See To Play. (go to my section of "Fun Stuff" on this website and find Michael Campbell discuss this)
I was unable to stay for dinner and one on one discussions after my talk, but I hope they learned something new. The question and answer session showed they were a serious group of golfers!
Tomorrow, my day starts bright and early with the Carolina Railhawks! Professional soccer is back in the Triangle.
Only the best eyes make it to the Super Bowl.
Odds are an adult reading this blog wears eye glasses, contact lenses or has had refractive surgery. The reason for this is because 75% of adults in the US need some form of vision correction in order to see their best (or clearest).
Odds are that if you ran out onto the Super Bowl field this Sunday and tackled a football player, he doesn’t need any type of vision correction to see his best. The reason for this is because only 20% of NFL players during the 2012-2013 season played with contacts, glasses or had LASIK (which equates to 4 out of 22 players on the football field during any given play). This statistic is from a survey that I completed with the NFL this year.
(I also polled the NBA and the results were lower than the NFL. I'll blog about that in the future)
The players that make it to the Super Bowl have good eyes because over half the players who need glasses, contacts or refractive surgery have already been weeded out. Some were weeded out during the jump from high school sports to college. The others were weeded out trying to make the jump from college to pro.
54% of 18 - 29 year olds in the United States need some form of vision correction to see their best (Wow! 1 out of 2!). That percentage increases to 61% if we increase the group size to include people up to the age of 35 (which is the age group of most professional athletes….wow! 6 out of 10!).
A nearsighted mother was in my office getting her eyes examined recently. She told me that her 14 year old son just had a sports physical and missed several letters on the chart. The nurse explained to her that if he had missed just one more letter, she would recommend sending him to the eye doctor for his first eye exam.
Elite athletes see good all the time; from the time they were young to their present age. They never miss letters and they see lines lower than the eye charts shown in doctors’ offices (indicating better than 20/20 vision). I explained to the mother that genetics tell me her son will need glasses and that statistics suggest he will be weeded out of playing ball in college or the pros because of his eyes. Already, the hours upon hours of his practice and work are taking place without his best vision. This translates to throwing off the development of his best eye hand coordination and reaction time. (The nurse would have actually done him a favor by recommending an eye exam!)
In my book, See To Play, I discuss ways to help athletes make it to the top without letting their eyes being the reason they get cut from becoming a professional or elite athlete. I recommend even the best seeing athletes get their eyes checked at least by the age of 4 and then every year afterwards.
Sports are games of statistics. And, the stats show less than perfect eyes are weeded out from reaching the top.
See To Play!
Now that we're halfway through the first month of 2013, how are your new year's resolutions going?
One of the most popular resolutions is to get in better shape. But, did you think about getting your vision checked out to make sure it's performing its best so that you can perform to your genetic potential.
Two weeks ago, a 15 year old basketball player came into my office to get an eye infection checked out. Since he was a new patient, I began asking him some sports question. It turns out, he is a serious basketball player. His vision was 20/40 without the glasses that he hates to wear.
I explained to him that a vision survey of the NBA that I wrote about in See To Play shows us that only 16% of NBA players have bad eyes, so he may want to change gears and think about another sport or wear his glasses. The odds of someone who needs to wear glasses to see to make the pros is definitely stacked against them.
I almost turned to his mom and said, "Have you considered saving the money he's spending to be an AAU player and just use that for college instead of trying to get a sports scholarship?"
I wrote See To Play to help people realize that without proper vision, you cannot develop the eye hand coordination, peak side vision awareness, and accuracy. You will be able to enjoy the sport, but elite athletes see way better.
Do your athletic performance a favor and make a new year's resolution to get your eyes tuned up!
The gift of life is an amazing thing. Think about your body. Think about all of the parts and pieces that go into making you a living, breathing human being.
I feel very blessed to work with eyes and vision. For most, it's the one sense that we say we hope never lose. It's the sense which inputs more information into the brain (good and bad!)
I'm also very happy that I've been a big part in athletes' lives who have desired to become the best. See To Play has been a passion of mine. It's a gift that keeps giving throught those who live it and report to me that it has made a difference in their performance.
I wish you the best this holiday season and hope you have a happy new year!
I was asked, "What is the biggest thing that your book, See To Play, brings to the world of sports that is new?"
The answer is easy: The Detailed Vision Zone. See To Play has been the first to identify this part of vision, define how athletes use it, define its importance, define how to measure for it, define how it is different in each athlete, and how the sports community can use it to compare athletes to each other and ultimately predict which athletes will become the most successful.
Currently, the sports vision world is busy talking about gaze control (where athletes look) and how they process the information received by their eyes. An example of this is a current article I just read that discusses how Peyton Manning gets his brain into high gear, scans the field, prioritizes what he sees from top to bottom or bottom to top and succeeds in the entire process. (Click here to read this article. And by the way, I think the author of the article may have read See To Play because the discussion is similar to how I compared Peyton and Tom Brady when I talked about the dorsal vision stream...a great example of how advanced the thinking is in See To Play!!)
The problem with the article is that it misses ONE VITAL VISUAL TRAIT which explains why Peyton can gather his information so quickly and is a difference maker. The KEY INGREDIENT not discussed is that Peyton probably has a larger area of vision known as the detailed vision zone.
The detailed vision zone represents an area of space in one position of gaze that a person can see the clear detail of objects before the eventual blur of images into the peripheral vision.
Each human has a different size of area in which they see things clearly. Some athletes have a small area of view, like looking at a room trough a window. Others have a large area of view as if they were looking at the same room through a door.
Peyton, with a larger detailed vision zone, can see a larger clear chunk of the field at one time. He doesn't have to make as many eye movements to map out the whole field in his mind. Therefore, with less eye movements and seeing the whole field in a shorter time span, he can send the information to the brain quicker.
So, the order of this vision to brain to pody process is:
see. see more of the field in one gaze, use less gazes to map the
whole field accomplishing the task faster, process the visual
information in the brain, make a sports decision and put the decision
As I discuss in my book, See To Play, the detailed vision zone is measurable. I have found that elite athletes have larger detailed vision zones and this can be used to predict if they have a better chance of becoming elite. I've put this in a formula and it is my belief that someday athletes will be ranked visually like the currently are physically.
See To Play is ahead of its time and we've had a great 2012 starting to get the word out!!
“Concussions don’t just happen in big cities with concussion clinics. This epidemic is also occurring from sports played in small towns and rural settings all across America….. from elementary school age and up. Primary care eye doctors have to get involved with testing and rehabilitation. The See To Play Concussion Protocol will equip eye doctors with everything they need to test and treat athletes suffering from visually related concussions. “
--Dr. Michael Peters, NHL Carolina Hurricanes’ Team Optometrist
As eye doctors for the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes for the past fifteen years, Dr. Jason Price and I have seen our fair share of eye injuries. We’ve seen hockey sticks slash and slit eyelids, retinal detachments and bleeding inside the eyes from hockey pucks' direct hits, fractures to orbital walls due to the force of elbows crashing into the eyes, scratched corneas from gloves that punch the eyes and, of course, the general black eye. (Basically, we’ve seen it all).
Over the past five years, we’ve been treating one sports related eye injury more than all the others combined: visual system problems caused by concussions.
In Chapter 10 of my book, See To Pay: The Eyes of Elite Athletes, I discuss how concussions affect the visual system. The reader learns about the dorsal vision stream and how this system works in concert other systems in the brain, such as the vestibular and proprioceptor system. I also discuss how visual systems can become injured by a sports related traumatic brain injuries.
Most concussions that linger past a few weeks seem to have a visual component. These athletes may complain that they feel funny when riding in a car. They get apprehensive when they walk up to a crowd of people. They report that they have problems focusing on reading material or problems comprehending what they have just read.
The See To Play Concussion Protocol has helped over a hundred athletes get back to normal. It is a 10 Stage program used for testing and training athletes back to recovery. Home vision exercises are also included to help athletes with their recovery.
Forward to 2:25 of this video to hear how this protocol helped a professional hockey player.
This year’s MLB season has brought back some great memories for me because of the elite athletes who played on teams where I was the team eye doctor. These teams have been affiliated with several MLB clubs throughout my tenure over two decades and have allowed me to work with players from both the American and National Leagues. Not only have I’ve made sure they can see to play but it has been fun to watch them mature into elite athletes with storied careers.
Congratulations go out to Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera for completing the Triple Crown in baseball this year; a fete that hasn’t been accomplished since 1967. Miggy was on the 2003 Carolina Mudcats team. (This was the first year I got to work with athletes from the Florida Marlins because the team had just switched its’ affiliation from the Colorado Rockies.) He was just a kid of 19 and joined a team that had the likes of Dontrelle Willis on it. He played for 69 games here before moving up to majors.
Congratulations also go out to Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones for a great career as he retired this year. He and I were both kids when he was called up to play for the Durham Bulls in the early 90s. The Bulls remained a Braves affiliate until 1997 when they switched to the current Tampa Bay Rays.
As exciting as it is to watch athletes become great, it is equally frustrating to watch athletes miss their chance to move up and develop because their vision isn’t perfect. Usually, it’s because they haven’t felt the need to address a minor problem and started once it was too late. By then, the eye hand coordination begins to suffer, the crack in the mental armor begins to occur and the hours and hours of retraining with better vision aren’t available because that was their one shot.
See To Play is loaded with the answers to help athletes reach their genetic potential. Don’t miss out on that opportunity!
Elite athletes see better than average athletes. Vision doesn’t have just one component, but has several measurable parts. Their definitions are discussed in detail in my book, See To Play: The Eyes of Elite Athletes.
Torry Holt is one of the elite athletes I evaluated and allowed me to write about him. His acuity is better than average as well as his detailed vision zone, extreme vision zone, focusing, his eye movement and his mind’s eye preparation.
Last week, he gave me a blurb to help promote my message on vision and help athletes see to play to their genetic potential.
Athletes with average vision have a lower chance of making it to the professional or highest level. As a matter of fact, those who need glasses or contacts seem to only have about a 25% chance to make it. The weaker eyes get weeded out because of many factors discussed in my book.
My aunt just watched the movie “Moneyball” and we were talking about it. I explained to her that See To Play was very similar to “Moneyball” in that comparison of visual traits can predict which athletes will become better….or even the best. See To Play, a.k.a “The Vision Moneyball”!
Torry’s elite stats:
· Drafted 6th overall in 1999 by St. Louis Rams
· Superbowl XXXIV Champion
· Part of the “Greatest Show on Turf” (Rams offense that scored
over 500 points 3 seasons in a row.)
· 7 pro-bowls
Elite athletes see better than average athletes. Those differences are measurable and discussed in detail in my book, See To Play: The Eyes of Elite Athletes. Any deviation from elite vision can cause problems with athletic performance.
This week, we witnessed again how nutrition plays a big role in how well athletes see. Poor nutritional habits can interfere with an athlete’s vision. Josh Hamilton’s increased intake of caffeine proved the latter. His excessive intake of caffeine was causing his eyes to dry out. His eyes want more water and oil......”Feed Me!”
I drove a Porsche 911 for five years. Great car! A precision instrument! It was the best performance car I’ve owned, but any little detail could cause it to have issue and not run at peak performance. If the wheels became out of balance, it would go fast but it would shake. If the carburetor got a little gunked up, it couldn’t breathe or fire as well. It would not run as fast as it could. Needless to say, my mechanics and I became fast friends.
Josh’s increased intake of caffeine caused his corneas to dry out. This condition is known as ocular keratitis. Think of your lips: if they get dry, they become uncomfortable and chapped. The lips aren’t diseased; they’re just not right.
Dry corneas can cause a decrease in our visual acuity. Josh let people know about his 20/10 after I checked him, which happened to be the week before he was drafted first in the MLB draft. (I had to include the picture of that day above again). Any deviation to a 20/10 or 20/12 athlete’s vision can cause them to go down to….say 20/20…the vision of us normal people. Losing superhuman vision to an elite athlete is just like me riding around in my 911 with the wheels or engine messed up.....it's not running at peak performance.
Chapter 9 of my book See To Play is devoted to nutrition and how to eat right to insure you see the best. Any edge an athlete can get to improve performance will them reach their genetic potential.
Read, See To Play to learn the rest of the story about nutrition and the eyes.