Articles & Research on Sports Vision
An article from the American Academy of Ophthalmology website
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 2, 1998 - As the excitement over McGwire and Sosa's home run derby still rings in our ears, coaches, parents, players, and fans of America's beloved baseball take note: a study in Ophthalmology, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, finds no correlation between hand-eye dominance and baseball performance.
For years, students of baseball believed hand-eye dominance was an important factor in determining a baseball player's batting performance. The thinking was crossed-dominance (left eye, right hand) was better because the batter's dominant eye naturally faces the pitcher and oncoming ball. Others felt same-dominance (right eye, right hand) was better because as the batter steps up to bat, he must turn his head to face the pitcher, bringing his dominant eye forward, ensuring maximum depth perception.
In an effort to answer the question of dominance patterns, Drs. Laby, Kirschen, Rosenbaum, and Mellman of the Jules Eye Institute at UCLA studied 410 members of the Los Angeles Dodgers professional baseball team during the 1992-1995 baseball seasons. According to Daniel M. Laby, M.D., "Our data shows no statistically significant difference between dominance patterns and ERA (earned runs average) and batting average." Major League players with same-dominance had an average batting average of .271, while players with crossed-dominance averaged .251. Major League pitchers with same-dominance had an ERA average of 3.34, while the ERA average of pitchers with crossed-dominance was 3.56. Dr. Laby states, "While the 'standard' methods for testing ocular dominance need to be reexamined, I can say with certainty that today there is no proven relationship between ocular dominance and baseball performance. While the data does show players with same-dominance have better batting averages and ERAs than those with crossed-dominance, the difference is not statistically significant. I would not suggest anyone change their eye or hand dominance, or the way they hit, in an attempt to improve their batting average."
The authors of this study hope their results will finally put an end to the question of crossed versus same-dominance, and allow coaches, parent, players, and fans to simply "Play Ball!"
CONTACT: broadcast, Kimberly Bowes Westhoff, or newspapers, Michelle Stephens, or magazines, Arthur Stone of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, 415-561-8500, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Do professional athletes have better visual functions than the normal population?
The answer is definitely "yes". Most professional athletes have much better visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, depth perception, and visual motor performance than the normal population.
A long-running study (The Visual Function of Professional Baseball Players Laby DM, Rosenbaum AL, et al: AM J OPHTHALMOL 1996; 122 (October): 476-485) studied the vision of 387 major and minor league players from the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball organization between 1992 to 1995. Visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, and depth perception (as distance) were tested. 77% of eyes were found to see 20/15 or better, with 1.7% being 20/9.2. Normal vision is 20/20. A person with vision of 20/9 is able to see at 20 feet what a person with normal vision would have to come up to 9 feet to see. This is close to the theoretical limit of human vision. Depth perception and contrast sensitivity were also found to be significantly better than the general population.