Optometry program offers sports vision course

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Head Coach Keith Buckley encouraged his players to take advantage of a sports vision screening being held by the College of Optometry before Thanksgiving break.  The sports vision screening, which is put on by the Sports Vision Club and professors, is used to test the players’ athletic performance vision.

Pacific’s College of Optometry was the first school to offer courses in sports vision. There are some other schools, such as the University of Houston, who have attempted to develop something similar, but Pacific’s is the longest running. Because Pacific was the first in creating a program like this, Dr. Erickson, an optometry professor who works with sports vision, was able to “create a program called Sports Vision University through the American Optometric Association’s Sports Vision Section.” This program is an industry-sponsored course that circulates through all the U.S. colleges of optometry.

Another optometry professor who works in the sports vision lab, Dr. Fraser Horn, quoted his colleague, Erickson, and said the screenings and studies are meant to “protect, correct and enhance” athletes’ vision. The clinic works with athletes to make sure their eyes are not “holding them back” in their respective sports. Sometimes their help can be as simple as recommending contact lenses.

Not all the athletic programs take full advantage of the sports vision screenings held each term but every athlete and average person could benefit from them. Fraser said the Sports Vision Club follows Nike’s motto that “if you have a body then you’re an athlete.” Simple activities like juggling are actions that everyone can do to help strengthen their vision. It teaches peripheral awareness.

One of Buckley’s players, Austin Alvarez attended the clinic and said there were a lot of tests on reaction time, depth perception and visual acuity. “They tested how fast our eyes could locate things and how well we see them,” said Alvarez. The testers also compared his normal vision to his sport vision. Alvarez, one of Pacific’s offensive running backs, was told his game vision, specifically when his head is leaning forward and he’s looking up, is better then his regular vision.

The sports vision screenings are not only beneficial to the athletic teams on campus, but also help out the optometry students in the Sports Vision Club. The club members, led by club president Nathan Langemo, get to help assess athletes and visit optometrists with sports vision practices. Alongside working with Pacific sports teams the optometrists also get to provide sports vision services to the Winterhawks and Oregon State University teams.


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