Vision and visual history in elite/near-elite level cricketers and rugby-league players

Brendan Barratt, Jonathan Flavell, Simon Bennett, Alice Cuickshank, Alex Manowski, Julie Harris, John Buckley

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Background: The importance of optimal and/or superior vision for participation in high-level sport remains the subject of considerable clinical research interest. Here we examine the vision and visual history of elite/near-elite cricketers and rugby-league players.Methods: Stereoacuity (TNO), colour vision, and distance (with/without pinhole) and near visual acuity (VA) were measured in two cricket squads (elite/international-level, female, n=16; near-elite, male, n=23) and one professional rugby-league squad (male, n=20). Refractive error was determined, and details of any correction worn and visual history were recorded.Results: Overall, 63% had their last eye-examination within 2 years. However, some had not had an eye examination for 5 years, or had never had one (near-elite-cricketers: 30%; rugby-league players: 15%; elite-cricketers: 6%). Comparing our results for all participants to published data for young, optimally-corrected, non-sporting adults, distance VA was ~1 line of letters worse than expected. Adopting α=0.01, the deficit in distance-VA deficit was significant, but only for elite-cricketers (p<0.001) (near-elite cricketers, p=0.02; rugby-league players, p=0.03). Near-VA did not differ between subgroups or relative to published norms for young adults (p>0.02 for all comparisons). On average, stereoacuity was better than in young adults, but only in elite-cricketers (p<0.001; p=0.03, near-elite-cricketers; p=0.47, rugby-league -players). On-field visual issues were present in 27% of participants, and mostly (in 75% of cases) comprised uncorrected ametropia. Some cricketers (near-elite: 17.4%; elite: 38%) wore refractive correction during play but no rugby-league player did. Some individuals with prescribed correction choose not to wear it when playing.Conclusion: Aside from near stereoacuity in elite-cricketers, these basic visual abilities were not better than equivalent, published data for optimally-corrected adults. 20-25% exhibited sub-optimal vision, suggesting that the clearest possible vision might not be critical for participation at the highest levels in the sports of cricket or rugby-league. Although vision could be improved in a sizeable proportion of our sample, the impact of correcting these, mostly subtle, refractive anomalies on playing performance is unknown.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSports Medicine - Open
Volume3
Issue number39
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2017

Keywords

  • Vision
  • Eye
  • Eyesight
  • Elite sports
  • Ametropia
  • refractive error
  • Cricket
  • Rugby league

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