Integrating sports and performance vision training into a practice is a great way to develop a niche, attract new patients, and provide another service to existing patients. There are numerous ways to add training at different levels to a practice, including traditional vision therapy tools, computer-based learning, and advanced technology incorporating balance and motor skills.
6. Don’t forget the basics
When working with athletes, my first questions are always about the timing of their last comprehensive eye exam (for many, this is never!) and about what eyewear they wear for their sports.
Making sure an athlete is optimally corrected and wearing sports-appropriate eyewear is just part of the sports vision training plan. When working with an athlete outside of my practice, I first ask her to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and make sure she has contact lenses, glasses, or sports eyewear before training.
Correcting small prescriptions, including astigmatism, is essential for any athlete.
7. Harness the power of social media
In my experience, keeping active Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google Plus pages has been incredible in growing our practice.
We have received inquiries from all over the country about sports vision training as well as obtained great exposure to local athletes on these sites. We actively post articles, pictures, and videos multiple times during the week and encourage our athletes to share our pages as well.
8. Have fun!
This last tip is the most important of all.
My journey through sports vision has been nothing short of incredible. I have worked with professional, Olympic, youth, and recreational athletes, and I have traveled the country meeting and working with incredible people. Hearing feedback of our training from parents and athletes continues to fuel my fire in expanding my practice and developing new training techniques. I have begun consulting with ODs who would like to add sports vision to their practices but are unsure where to begin. It has been very rewarding to guide them through the process and see their success.
My favorite sports vision moment is getting a three-minute video text from an athlete who, when he started training with us, could not catch a ball. He called to tell me he scored his first goal in a soccer game, and he couldn’t contain his excitement.
Walking into Performance 20/20 is exciting, fun, and challenging. It is a welcome addition to my optometry career. If you have an interest in sports or working with athletes, I encourage you to add sports and performance vision training at some level to your practice.
Jennifer Stewart, OD, is chief vision officer and founder of Performance 20/20, a sports and performance training facility in Stamford, CT. Dr. Stewart is co-owner of Norwalk Eye Care in Norwalk, CT. She is a former Division 1 track and field athlete who still holds two college records. She is a competitive age group triathlete and competes in trail and road races. Dr. Stewart resides in Connecticut with her husband, who is an Ironman All World Triathlete; their two young boys; and their rescue dog.