5 Ways Vision Problems Can Manifest During Little League
Vision problems frequently manifest in sports, and no sport may serve as a better indicator than baseball. Our national pastime can actually help you spot a potential vision issue with your child.
Why should you be on the lookout for vision problems? Because quite often your child won’t realize he or she has a vision problem.
Dr. Kellye Knueppel tells a story that serves as a perfect example. A father had brought his son into the clinic for a Functional Vision Test. Following the exam and based on the results of the testing, Dr. Knueppel asked the boy, “Which ball do you swing at?”
“I just know which ball is real,” he replied. “And I swing at it. The other ball is dimmer.”
The father’s jaw nearly hit the floor. He never knew that the boy saw the world in this way. This, naturally, was not the father’s fault. He didn’t think to ask a pointed question about binocular vision.
And it never crossed his son’s mind to tell his father. He assumed everyone saw the world as he did.
What are some telltale signs that your little leaguer may have a vision problem - one that neither of you know exists?
1. Strikes out all the time. Granted, not everyone is a Ryan Braun, but if a child strikes out constantly, they may be seeing two baseballs, or having some other issue.
2. Can’t hit for power, lots of pop-ups. Does your child make contact, but lack the ability to hit the ball in the sweet spot? Again, this may be an inability to see the ball correctly.
3. Does fine with Coach Pitch, but struggles to hit at the next level. A vision problem can be masked by a child who has learned to compensate and work around the issue. For coach pitch, a batter knows consistently where the ball will be, and can adjust their swing accordingly.
When they get to the next level, the pitching becomes much less predictable so more accurate vision is needed to see and hit the ball well. Excellent visual skills become more and more important for hitting as the pitchers get better and are able to throw curve balls and change speeds.
4. Trouble catching balls in the outfield. If your child has ongoing problems with pop flies, ask him or her what happens when the ball gets hit in the air. People with eye teaming problems may notice that the ball looks like it splits into two. We’ve had several patients say they see the ball split in two once the ball’s trajectory takes it out of the infield. This indicates an eye teaming problem.
5. Can’t go to the right or the left. To a certain degree, a person will show greater dexterity going one direction or the other. But a vision problem can severely affect their ability to go in one direction or see the ball accurately in different locations in space. If you notice, for example, your fielder really struggles fielding a ball that’s hit to his or her left, it may be a vision problem.
Understand that vision problems can affect even players who currently perform at an extremely high level, even professional athletes. Because our brain tries to compensate for vision issues, a person can achieve a fair amount of success even with significant visual problems.
But in any case, solving the vision problem will improve your child’s game, their schooling, and most importantly, their life.
Photo by: Quiltsalad
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The Vision Therapy Center has helped over 2,000 people overcome vision problems since 1995, and has Wisconsin vision therapy offices in Brookfield and Madison.