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Elevating performance

in esports athletes

An independent collective of performance experts, helping you to push your boundaries and challenge your limits. It's time to get in the zone.

STORY vision

Training The Eye For Improved Visual Cues In-Game

The Eye
Eye Exercises
Eye Training
Eye Movement
Visual Skills
Eye Strain

Introduction

Vision is critical in providing us with very useful information to guide our actions and motor behaviour. Understanding how the eyes work and the various aspects that they are made up of, will enable a player to enhance their abilities for better vision. It’s this that will, ultimately, improve personal performance when it comes to esports.
.01

The Eye And How Vision Works

By understanding how the eye works, we can take control of our environments to ensure optimal vision and eye health. To do that, it’s important to understand that the human eye is a complex sense organ containing receptors that respond to the sensation of brightness, and it’s this that enables us to see in both dim and well-lit environments. 

This process works when light hits the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye, known as the retina, and special cells called photoreceptors turn it into electrical signals. These signals travel from the retina through the optic nerve to the brain, where they are interpreted into the images that we call our vision.

While not everyone has the same quality of vision, it is possible to improve our eyesight through a series of simple training techniques. We will delve further into these specific exercises and why these are important in enhancing performance in sports and esports in the following chapters.

Joseph LaPlaca

Sports vision optometrist

.02

How Eye Movements Work

In the same way a muscle can be improved over time with focus and training, our eyes can be conditioned to perform better overtime. This is especially important for esports athletes, as much of their performance relies heavily on their vision, and ability to respond quickly to what they see on screen. Seeing more details and fast-reacting eye-hand coordination for example, are crucial. 

However, eye muscles - just like all other muscles - can get strained and overworked, which can often lead to injuries that, in the worst case, can prevent a player from accomplishing what they are truly capable of.
In order to take best care of the eyes, we should partake in a number of quick exercises which will help keep them in top shape. But before perfecting these, it’s important to understand how the eye works, especially in relation to its muscles, and the importance of light. 

To see, light entering the eye hits the retina and is converted into electrical signals via special cells called photoreceptors. During this process, it’s the muscles of the eye that controls where it will focus and how to react to certain sights by controlling the amount of incoming light. Understanding this and the important role the eyes play in gaming performance, not only helps us to better take care of our vision but can improve gaming performance in the long run.

Joseph LaPlaca

Sports vision optometrist

.03

The Aspects Of Vision And Their Importance In Esports

In order to see, our vision must leverage multiple aspects within our eyes. These different components not only give us sight, but they are interwoven in our cognitive abilities (seeing, thinking and doing), which is directly linked to performance. These cognitive abilities are also very trainable. They can be improved through exercise, like a muscle, so it’s incredibly important to any esports athlete that they focus on building this overtime, as this will strengthen their abilities in the long run.
The eyes are the key to all of this. Without them, there is no cognitive processing of what they’re seeing. And so vision needs to be the starting point of focus and care.
This begins with what the player sees and how clearly they can see it. The next important step is how quickly they are able to make a decision based on what they've seen. The third phase is their reaction - how fast they can get their body to respond after the decision has been made by the brain, and whether or not this is adequate time to improve performance.

As an esports athlete, recognising which aspects you are either particularly good or bad at will help tremendously. Being aware is the first step towards improvement and thus boosting your performance. 

Joseph LaPlaca

Sports vision optometrist

.04

How To Train Your Eyes To Improve Performance

Eye training is used across a wide range of professional sports in a bid to improve performance, with athletes of all rankings now focusing on training their visual systems. This includes sports such as basketball, hockey, volleyball, gymnastics, and even MMA Fighting. 

Training the eyes is like exercising any other part of the body. Directly linked to the brain and its connections, they can be strengthened through practice and exercise, which is why improving aspects of our vision can help enhance performance. However, it takes time, patience and consistency to see improvements.
Nevertheless, executing different eye exercises regularly can help esports players develop better cognitive functioning in-game. 

These exercises only require simple or no accessories and this can be easily done at home. Practiced regularly, they can help improve focus and hone the individual vision skills needed for the different aspects of the eye to reach their highest playing abilities.

Joseph LaPlaca

Sports vision optometrist

.05

How To Prevent And Treat Eye Strain

Visual performance is one of the most important components of esports success. Despite this, eye strain is the most common issue affecting collegiate esports athletes. Prolonged use of the eyes and surrounding muscles, like any other structure in the body, can lead to fatigue, decayed performance, and even damage. 

Unlike other muscles, however, it can be harder to recognise when we’ve pushed our eyes too far. Signs of eye strain include blurred or double vision, headaches, dry or excessively watery eyes, and increased sensitivity to light. Fortunately, just like with the majority of injuries video gamers can face, these symptoms can be easily and readily preventable with only a small bit of knowledge and action. 

Understanding why eye strain occurs is the first step. The short distance from the eyes to the screen is a large risk factor for eye strain as this places increased stress on the muscles of accommodation necessary to maintain focus. Similarly, sustained attention to complicated gameplay decreases the rate at which blinking occurs, thus dehydrating the eyes.  

To best optimise visual performance, all gamers should follow the 20-20-20 rule and spend 20 seconds looking at a point 20 feet (6 m) away for every 20 minutes of screen time. Furthermore, simple and easy exercises can be performed to help alleviate the constant near-focus and low blink rate associated with prolonged gaming.

Lindsey Migliore

Doctor & injury expert