Vision training – eye coordination
Let me tell you something really interesting! 🙂
I have started to study and research much more intensively about the eye sight, vision and vision training in the last few years. Learning about all those new things has awakened a new kind of curiosity, inspiration and motivation in me.
After understanding the main principles of vision training and the difference between vision and eye sight, I started to apply both more in my coaching work. The results were and are STUNNING! But even more stunning is the fact how many people are actually having some kind of problems with their vision which went unnoticed throughout their lives!
One of the most recent examples of these unnoticed vision problems that I have worked with was a 12 year old boy who trains water polo!
The challenge his parents mostly complained about was that he struggled to catch a ball during his water polo practices, and then as a side line they mentioned that he has smaller reading challenges. More precisely: lack of intonation during reading, skipping the letters or words during reading, skipping rows and generally refusing to read.
During our first session, the boy told me about his water polo practices and how much he enjoys them, the only problem was, as he said: “No one throws the ball to me…”. Then I asked him why is it so? He just lowered his head and told quietly and sadly: “Because I can’t catch it…”. 😮 Do I have to explain you how sad, cute and heart breaking this was for me?!?! I just told him that we will work on it and we will improve it for sure!! I mean, I have never played or trained water polo, but one thing was and is for sure: I have spent my whole life in handball and all we do in handball is throwing or catching handball balls! 🙂
So we have made a deal that I will do with him tryout period of brain training method that I have been developing in the last few years (you will be able to read and hear about that more in near future, after I finish and publish it).
We have done several sessions primarily focusing on cognitive coordination, improving speed of information processing, vision training and a lot of unusual movements, thus challenging the brain in different ways and activating both hemispheres and as more areas in the brain as possible at the same time.
Already during our second session, we have done some of the eye movement exercises, and I have realized that he can’t cross his eyes! It was literally impossible for him to do it! He could only cross his eyes while watching at his finger placed upon the tip of his nose. As soon as he would move the finger – his eyes would uncross.
This inability to cross his eyes voluntarily was little bit strange to me at first, but I knew it must have an impact on his eye-hand coordination and his reading problems!
I wondered why is it like that and how we can “repair” it. The first thing I did was asking his mother to take a photo of him while he was trying to look at his finger placed upon the tip of the nose (oh, I forgot to mention – the boy doesn’t live in Finland, so we have done everything through Skype calls and e-mails).
This was the first photo that I have got:
I was stunned and surprised after I saw this picture! His left eye stayed somehow looking straight ahead while his right eye was looking at the finger on the middle of his nose! It was so clear that his left eye did not converge and it was lacking the proper coordination of the movement.
Just to make this clear – convergence is the coordinated movement and focus of our two eyes inward on close objects. Convergence is one of many important visual skills learned during our early years, and convergence insufficiency is a common problem with the development of these skills. When convergence is insufficient, it means that the eyes do not come together closely enough when looking at a near object, so the eyes are essentially looking “past” the target focal point.
What often happens in these kinds of cases is that the brain just “shuts down” that “non cooperative” eye and takes the input only from the other eye. This can have a lot of different consequences: it can actually cause reading difficulties, words can be “shaky”, it becomes harder to focus and to track letters and words; in sport – depth perception can be disrupted, convergence becomes impossible and that can cause a lot of problems with eye-hand coordination.
When we are not able to converge our eyes easily and accurately, problems may develop, such as:
- Eye strain
- Double vision
- Difficulty reading and concentrating
- Avoidance of near work
- Poor sports performance
- Dizziness or motion sickness
A very interesting fact is that this boy had his eyes checked regularly by the eye care professional since 2013! But after reading all the books about the vision and eye sight and after learning everything I have learned – I wasn’t at all surprised that this kind of “problem” was not discovered during regular check up by an eye care specialist. Apparently it’s very common that these kinds of problems go undetected.
Anyhow, I tested boy’s eye movements, eye focusing and eye acuity. I figured out with testing and re-assessing which exercises exactly suit him and could help him. I gave him 3 sets of 3-4 eye exercises, each set he did 4 or 5 times a day for 4 days. Each set would last something between 5 or 10 minutes, and we made deal that he will do it once in the morning before the school, and then 3 or 4 more times after the school, before going to sleep. He did an amazing job!
After the first 3 sets of 4 days, we have done testing and photo shooting again!
This was his situation after those first 12 days:
Comparison of eyes position from the first and second photo:
Small improvement was hardly visible, and there was needed more work to be done! I knew I should find the best drills for his eyes and for his brain, so I continued testing and re-assessing. He was willing to do more of the exercises and his parents were delighted already with this small improvement that we have made!
So we continued for 2 weeks more, making 3 new exercises 3 times per day. I was giving him new set of exercises every 4 days.
The situation was much better after these 2 weeks, but still his left eye was not converging in the same way as the right eye. So we made one more week with new 3 exercises, only 2 times per day: before and after school.
After about total 5 weeks of intense vision training this was final result:
Comparison of eyes position at the beginning of vision training program we have done and in the end:
With obvious and mind blowing improvement in convergence of his eyes, his eye sight also improved! 🙂
I forgot to say that when we started, vision in his left eye was weaker than in his right eye. The vision in his left eye was 20/50 and in his right eye 20/25 (Ideally for kids in this age would be about 20/16). The difference between the vision acuity in two eyes was very different, so one of my goals was to equalize vision in both eyes and to get that left eye coordinated in converging movement.
Already after first week, there were improvements in vision in his both eyes. But in the end, after these 5 weeks in total, vision in his left eye was 20/25 and vision in his right eye 20/15, and most importantly – his convergence was PERFECT finally!!!
His parents reported improvements with his motivation and ability to read, and he told me that now his water polo team mates are throwing the ball to him during their practices and games and he is actually able to catch the ball! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Already before this case I was testing and working a lot on vision of goalkeepers with whom I am working, but after this case I started to pay special and big attention to the eye convergence. Well I also started to test it with most of my friends who would come over for a cup of coffee 😉 😀 🙂
I was again mind blown with discovering how many people are actually having the problems particularly with the eye convergence or with their focal point, depth of perception, eye tracking…
Including vision training in work with goalkeepers is imposed as logical and mandatory! I mean, not only in work with goalkeepers, but also with all the other players, athletes or non athletic people! This is something we can work on, we can improve it and we can change it!
In conclusion – if you notice your goalkeepers, players, kids are having trouble with catching or seeing where exactly the ball is, reacting too early or too late, please consider vision training!!!
Feel free to check eye crossing with your players. Check if they can do it without the finger, and can they do it all the way from the top of their nose up towards the middle of their forehead.
Share your experiences with me, I will be happy to hear your stories! 🙂
Stay happy! 🙂