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Herb Yoo, Alan Reichow, Graham Erickson; Visual Acuity is Essential for Optimal Visual Performance of NFL Players. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):1032. doi: 10.1167/10.7.1032.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The measurement of static visual acuity (SVA) is an essential element of any vision evaluation because degraded visual acuity can have a detrimental effect on many other aspects of visual performance. Although the expected level of SVA depends on the visual task demands of each sport situation, studies have frequently found better SVA in athletes than in nonathletes. The purpose of this study was to compare performance of visual and visuomotor skills in a population of NFL football players with excellent and reduced SVA. Eighty-two NFL football players received a visual performance evaluation at their team's training center over a span of 2 seasons. Based on the athletes' SVA and refractive error measures, they were identified for a referral to an eye care practitioner for potential remediation. An athlete was identified for a referral if (1) SVA of either or both eyes was worse than 20/17 on a Snellen chart or (2) there was significant hyperopia in either eye (cyl ≥ 1.5 diopter). Twenty-eight of the 82 players were identified for a referral. Statistically, the referred and the non-referred population had significantly different SVA (p<0.001). Of the visual performance variables measured, the non-referred players were better than the referred players in the following visual and visuomotor skills: contrast sensitivity (p=0.008), accommodative facility (p<0.001), depth perception (p=0.017), reaction time (p<0.001), and target acquisition (p=0.030). Some of the other skills measured that did not result in statistical significance were perception span, motor response time, anticipation timing, eye-hand coordination, and target following. There is a statistically significant reduction in some measures of visual performance in NFL football players who have SVA worse than 20/17. Excellent SVA contributes to optimal visual performance when central vision factors into success. Professional football players may benefit from refractive compensation to maximize SVA.
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