Sports & Performance Vision

Sports & Performance Vision Webinars

Strengthening Primary Eye Care through Sports & Performance Vision

With 89-90 million Americans of all ages avidly participating in sports, it is likely that many of your patients are too. Ensuring that these patients' eyes are protected and function appropriately for their sport is essential to their vision, safety and overall health.

These patients, as well as many other athletes who do not regularly see an eye doctor, represent an opportunity for doctors of optometry to expand their practice and meet these athletes' vision needs.

If this opportunity is not realized by doctors of optometry, the vision needs of athletes will continue to go unmet and other providers, such as physical therapists and trainers, will eventually take over the role of vision care providers for athletes. Because eye doctors are best suited to manage vision health, the AOA is committed to ensuring that all athletes, from youths to professionals, are referred to and regularly visit a doctor of optometry.

To help doctors of optometry provide the eye care needed for their patients engaged in sports, the AOA Sports & Performance Vision Committee (SPVC) and Advocacy Network (SPVAN) are committed to:

An essential component of every athlete's primary eye care

Every day, Americans of all ages participate in sports that heavily depend on vision and can cause serious injuries/impairments to their eyes. These injuries can have a drastic impact not only on an athlete's performance in sports, but also on their work, school and overall health. For children, untreated and undiagnosed vision impairments can also impact their mental, physical and social development. Sports and performance vision services can prevent, detect and manage sports-related vision impairments/injuries, as well as improve performance. As primary eye care physicians, doctors of optometry should:

  1. Identify their patients who participate in physically demanding activities, including athletes, military and first responders.
  2. Provide a preliminary evaluation of their patients' sports and performance vision needs.
  3. Provide some basic sports and performance vision services, education and training (e.g., ensure that their patients are trained to properly wear appropriate sports safe eyewear).
  4. Refer patients to appropriate specialists when needed (e.g., a Sports & Performance Vision doctor of optometry, physical therapist, or neurologist for TBIs).

An untapped opportunity for an unmet need

Many, if not most, optometry patients already participate in physically demanding activities such as after-school football, work leagues or are "weekend warriors." Countless more athletes, who do not regularly see an eye doctor, would be more likely to visit a doctor of optometry if they believed it would help improve their safety, performance and overall health.

Unfortunately, many child and adult athletes believe that contact lenses and glasses are the only benefits that doctors of optometry provide. Athletes who believe they already have optimal vision, may never think that they need to see a doctor of optometry. Others think their eye and vision needs can be met through online contact lens retailers and online "refraction tests." Even athletes who regularly visit their eye doctors sit in countless examination chairs not knowing that a doctor of optometry can help protect their vision, improve their performance and detect sports-related visual impairments. For most doctors of optometry, incorporating basic sports and performance vision services can be a low-cost way to meet the needs of your patients who are already engaged in physically demanding activities, as well as expand your practice and patient base. For doctors of optometry with a passion for sports and performance vision, specializing can be a successful way to meet the more advanced needs of athletes.

For most doctors of optometry, incorporating basic sports and performance vision services can be a low-cost way to meet the needs of your patients who are already engaged in physically demanding activities, as well as expand your practice and patient base. For doctors of optometry with a passion for sports and performance vision, specializing can be a successful way to meet the more advanced needs of athletes.

Advocating our role as primarye eye care physicians through sports and performance vision:

The AOA will work with local state and federal policymakers to ensure that doctors of optometry can treat athletes to the fullest extent of their training and education. This includes advocating for better scope of practice laws and reimbursement policies. The AOA will work with other professions, such as MDs, PTs, OTs and athletic trainers so that they understand optometry's role as primary eye care physicians and make referrals to doctors of optometry when appropriate.