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Growing Field Of Sports Vision Could Change The Way Athletes See The Game

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Good eyesight is important for us all, but especially when you play sports or drive a car.

But it's more complicated than reading an eye chart.

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez explained, the field of sports vision is growing, and so can your visual performance.

Good vision in sport is actually complicated and depends on your sport.

Boxers don't need great acuity, but they need depth perception. Archers need great acuity, and contrast sensitivity -- baseball players need all of the above.

Sports vision experts can test and train all of those visual skills.

Hitting a small, fast moving ball that could be curving has been called the hardest thing to do in all of sports.

It's no surprise that Major League Baseball players see -- on average -- two lines on the eye chart better than 20/20.

"The size of the target is important. The contrast of the target is important, the depth perception, 3D vision of the target is important, and most importantly, how fast you can perceive the information is critical," Dr. Daniel Laby, SUNY College of Optometry explained.

It's also about how much visual information your brain can handle at the same time and how fast you can process that information into action -- like hitting a baseball.

Thirteen-year-old Luke Rochkow  has been testing his ability to detect and then react to visual cues.

He's working hard to improve his baseball skills.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm not always seeing the ball great. It's probably some issues with my eyesight," he said.

Dr. Laby is one of the pioneers in the field of sports vision. He's worked with three World Series champion teams, as well as hockey and other sports.

He's also developed a number of critical vision tests for sports performance.

"The sharpness of the vision, the depth perception, anticipation ability, hand-eye coordination, reaction time, multiple targets tracked at the same time,"  he explained.

CBS2's Dr. Gomez tried his hand at tracking and reacting to multiple targets tracked at the same time. Let's just say his baseball days are behind him.

More importantly however, is what the field may be able to do for athletes who do struggle.

"If you have a deficit, what we can do to optimize performance to perform better, and many of these are trainable, and many of these have shown that training improved performance on the field," Dr. Laby said.

Dr. Laby stressed that this isn't just for pro athletes. It's for anyone wanting to improve their performance in athletics, to make sports more enjoyable for a lifetime which also translates into better health and improved confidence.


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