By Donald S. Teig, O.D., F.A.A.O.
I don’t need to point out to the graduating optometrist that it’s a tough world out there! There’s student loans, an over abundance of optometric practitioners, a health care environment dominated by low paying insurance plans, the government and insurance administrators telling you what you can do and can’t do. Don’t get me started! Fortunately, the way I see it, it’s not all doom and gloom. This is the time for new graduates to be proactive!
So, if you have a passion for sports, why not sell yourself to an established doc as a Sports Vision Specialist! I know what you’re thinking. “I’d love to, but I don’t know the first thing about Sports Vision and I certainly didn’t learn it in optometry school! How do I promote myself as an “expert?” OK, you have a point. Without coming across as too promotional, I have trained over 32 practitioners in the last 3 years on everything from soup to nuts in the specialty of Sports Vision. I provide 16 hours of lecture material as well as a 750 page loose-leaf book with valuable information on testing, training, marketing, sports specific eye exercises, etc. in my consulting program. Dr. Graham Erickson has written a very useful book for the practitioner on the subject entitled, “Sports Vision –Vision Care For the Enhancement of Sports Performance”. I also hope to start a course at Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry on what I like to call “High Performance Vision”. The 18 hour course will address the role vision plays in sports, recreation, highly demanding visual careers like aviation, law enforcement, etc. as well as the impact concussion has on the visual system. I will also be releasing a book in February written for the athlete entitled, “High Performance Vision: A Guide to Increasing your Visual Acuity, Motor Skills, and Improving Your Game.” from Square One Publishers, Garden City, NY.
Recently, several exciting technological advances have surfaced that will greatly increase the demand for your services. For example, SMI Eye Tracking Glasses allow you to evaluate and train for stable eye tracking skills. UltimEyes is a software program that uses neuroplasticity training to enhance contrast sensitivity. The Visual Motor Enhancement Trainer (VMET) helps improve eye-hand coordination in a realistic training environment. The Bassin Anticipation Trainer teaches an athlete to improve their timing when hitting a ball or stopping a puck. Several new tests linking vision and vestibular balance are in the works to help concussion and traumatic brain injury patients.
Despite what you may have been led to believe, Sports Vision is far more than a glorified vision therapy specialty. Without a doubt, some v.t. techniques are often implemented as part of the training, but they are just one piece of the pie!
In short, you can be proactive in becoming a specialist in Sports Vision. If you have the passion, you can bring a much needed component to any practice looking not only to survive but to thrive!
Photo: Copyright: flippo / 123RF Stock Photo
Having retired from private practice this year, I am actively traveling the country training practices on how to incorporate the Sports Vision / High Performance Vision niche into their array of specialty services. I am also the Executive Director of a national group of practices who have been trained in this specialty. We call ourselves “The A Team” – High Performance Vision Associates. For more information on my Consulting Program or “The A Team” I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or DonTeig@HighPerformanceVisionAssociates.com.