People come to see me for 4 reasons.
- They have a problem with their vision and want to know what it is.
- They have a problem with their vision and they want to fix it.
- They have no problem and want to be assured that they will not have a problem.
- They have no problem with their vision but want to enhance their vision.
The first 3 are the focus of medical practice and eyecare treatments. The 4th is the interesting one that can be addressed by taking the ideas that are designed to treat problems and refocus them on enhancing performance. Optimizing vision performance is one of the ways people do this.
Athletes are always looking for something to give them an edge in competition. I have noticed over the years that many of the people I have tested who have 20/15 and 20/10 vision (this is better than 20/20 vision) were athletes at some point in their life. It is hard to determine if they had innate potential for better vision and that gave them an advantage in sports and made it easy for them and that was what attracted them to sports. Or if they have no innate visual advantage and it was their interest in and repetitive practice in focusing their vision for a specific task related to sports performance that enhanced their vision to push it to the next level. Most likely, it is a combination of both. I also saw this enhanced vision in the military, in photographers and in artists. There are many other professions that both benefit from optimal visual performance and that enhance visual performance but these 4 were the most common in my practice.
Visual performance improves when a visual task is repeated over and over. These professions create high visual performers because they require the person to do repetitive visual tasks with a high level of concentration and motivate the person to improve in order to get a job done or compete at a higher level. Therefore the task does not have to be complicated. It simply needs to be repeated in a deliberate way with continued high motivation over time. It can be as simple as looking at the lines in your hand and then changing your focus to an object across the room. This is an easy and readily available way to increase your focusing performance. Alternatively, you can buy advanced technology that costs thousands of dollars to enhance visual performance. The technology makes the practice more deliberate and can amplify motivation but the theory is the same. Eye professionals act as a personal specialized guide for people who want this type of training. For most people this is not necessary for the enjoyment of seeing. The daily, repetitive practice of deliberately looking at things in the world with purpose and motivation will naturally enhance everyday visual performance, perception, appreciation, and joyfulness.
I believe in expertise, knowledge, and striving toward mastery but I don’t believe that it should be accessible to only those people with money, power, and privilege. Our technology, knowledge, freedoms, and abilities today are a result of the efforts of all of our ancestors. Sports has been an equalizing force in our society for the past 50+ years. This equality in sports is changing as people use money, technology, power, and privilege to make sports less accessible to the majority of people who don’t have these things. Using vision training to reach peak performance in sports is part of elite training but most people don’t even know that sports vision training exists.
This issue of inequity in access has been a source of frustration for me starting with my days at prep school. I realized early that part of education is learning a language to discuss ideas and to help us develop a deeper understanding of the world and our abilities. In order for me to pass my knowledge to you about the eye, I must use the same language as you. Language is not only the words, but also the references, the memories, the present information, past experiences, personal interactions, and personal worldview. This all interacts to determine if the knowledge and expertise can be passed from one to another. As I studied in prep school, I often felt disconnected from the learning process because of a disconnect between me (my experience, worldview, and language) and the institution that was teaching me. Building a bridge in my mind, like a translator, enabled me to refocus and learn the language which then enabled me to take advantage of the education and knowledge of the prep school. However, this was one type of knowledge, one type of education, and one type of language. I believed then and still believe now that there are many types of ways to gain and pass knowledge. Making one way appear more important than others creates inequity and keeps that type of knowledge out of reach for many people. However, knowledge can be brought in reach through sharing and collective effort to spread it by those who have blessed to have gained knowledge. Let’s share our knowledge and address the inequity by striving for peak performance.