Background Good eyesight is a basic precondition for safety but also for performance in sports. Vision has a crucial importance for movement control and balance regulation. Vision helps anticipating, e.g. fast movements in ball games as well as potential accident risks e.g. in one-on-one-situations in football or handball. Investigations show that about 20% of all elite athletes exert their sport ametropic. Nevertheless regular and meaningful visual tests for the analysis of the multidimensional visual performance and the detection of ametropia are only integrated in the health diagnostics of a few sports.
Objective Aim of the study was to analyze current data of German elite athletes concerning ametropia or different parameters of visual performance; especially considering parameters that are also tested by optometrists or ophthalmologists.
Participants The study is based on a retrospective analysis of cross-sectional eye test data from different national teams (n=553; age: 21.0±4.0 years) which were collected in the annual routine health check in the last three years (2013–2015).
Results About 27.5% of athletes use visual aids in daily life, whereas 33.3% of athletes with ametropia are practicing their sports without an optical correction. The median of the (monocular) visual acuity is about 1.85 for men and 1.80 for women (maximum-values considerably above 2.50). Altogether there are 22.6% athletes that are detected as ametropic and thus in need of correction.
Conclusions All results mentioned and further literature searches show that good eyesight is important from the perception physiology and injury prevention point of view. Visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, depth and motion perception etc. have a significant influence on performance and quality of sports – depending on the specific demands of the discipline. Visual function tests should be included in health diagnostics in order to be able to detect and subsequently correct visual deficiencies at an early stage.