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Sharper image: UH optometrist establishes sports vision clinic
Date:4/21/2008

The standard eye chart only covers letters and numbers, but athletes need above average vision to track balls hurtling toward them at alarming speeds. To test those special skills, a University of Houston optometrist has founded the Sports Vision Performance Center, a facility where athletes perform while a strobe light is flashing, play tag with a board of lights and engage in other activities designed to improve their visual abilities.

The biggest problem that athletes face is not knowing they can potentially see much better than 20/20 vision, said Kevin Gee, a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and an assistant clinical professor with the UH College of Optometry. Gee opened the Sports Vision Performance Center in January to individual athletes and teams from various sports, and utilizes a range of tests to analyze what is called the visual system.

The visual system is more than just whats the smallest line on the chart you can see, Gee said. The visual system consists of many things, but specifically for sports, depth perception, color, speed and accuracy of movements and contrast sensitivity or the ability to detect an object off a background.

To assess these skills, Gee and his staff use instruments, such as a 3-D movie projected on a computer screen with shimmering objects that pop up to measure depth perception, a lighted batting test that can time up to one-thousandth of a second to gauge timing and accuracy, and a Dynavision board a vertical lighted peg board that determines reaction time, peripheral awareness and accuracy of movement.

Gee has worked with several amateur and professional sports clubs and has been testing the skills of the UH womens softball team since 2006. Some initial meetings during the 2006-07 season turned into weekly meetings during the offseason to test, train and condition the female athletes and their eyes in preparation for the 2007-08 season.

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Contact: Ann Holdsworth
aholdsworth@uh.edu
713-743-8153
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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