AOA 2024: How to support vision for athletic performance


As part of the sports and performance vision section of the AOA, Vittorio Mena, OD, MS, shares information on how to bolster athletes' performance through enhanced vision care.

Vittorio Mena, OD, MS, an optometrist from New Jersey practicing at Optical Academy, is participating in the AOA's Optometry Meeting in Nashville, where he is presenting 6 lectures. His talks include topics such as sports vision and the appropriate age for children to start using contact lenses. Mena emphasizes the importance of comprehensive eye exams and discusses initiatives to educate communities about eye health, particularly in relation to sports performance. He also highlights innovative tools like anti-fatigue lenses and performance-enhancing tints for gaming.

Video transcript

Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Vittorio Mena, OD, MS:

Hello everybody. My name is Dr. Vittorio Mena I practice in the state of New Jersey. And the place that I practice is called Optical Academy. And we're here at the Optometric Association for the AOA, so Optometry's Meeting here in Nashville. And so fortunately, I get to do six lectures here, and I get to explore the exhibit hall. So should be a fun time

So I did one [presentation] yesterday, it was called cases of the deep blue sea with Dr. Steven Sorkin. And so as a unique lecture, where I tied in a little bit of sports vision, since I'm on the AOA Sports Performance Vision Section, and a little bit of cases, when it came to, like a acanthamoeba or any type of corneal conditions. So that was the first one.

Then earlier this morning, I did a talk on kids and contact lenses. So like, what's the appropriate age for kids to be in contact lenses? And so I was pretty much educating the audience about that age is just nothing but a number. So it's really the confidence level of either the child or the actual doctor and also for the parent as well. And then I have a few more going on leader this rest of the conference.

Yeah, so I'm very pumped to be a part of the sports vision section. It's a small group of us. And so as leaders, our job is to enhance the profession when it comes to sports vision. So obviously, whenever you're dealing with a child, they're going to be in the classroom first, and then obviously, they're going to be on the sporting and playing field secondly. So it's important to talk about the appropriate type of eyewear, whether it be sports goggles, or contact lenses, and get into specific tints when it comes to lenses when you're outdoors and doing different types of activities, whether it be baseball or boating or skiing. So it's a very, very unique environment, especially now with eGaming blowing up. So most people are on screens, I think the average American a day is spending 7 hours and 3 minutes per day on the screen. So talking to our audience or just our patient care about the importance of ergonomics, posture, blink dynamics, those are all important when it comes to our eyes.

So right now we have an initiative. I'm actually doing a lecture today at 3:00. It's for optometric paras, as well as optometrists. And so we're trying to focus in on the community. So either going to local facilities, high schools, YMCAs, talking about the importance of getting a comprehensive eye exam first because the eyes lead the body. And it's important for us to take hold of that because most of the time, the community or the parents, they don't think about vision being the number one priority, they think something else is happening, but it's actually can be detected during a vision exam.

So sometimes it can be the anti-fatigue lens would be a crucial one. Also, with different types of tints that you can utilize for gaming, there's a new company out there, I have no financial relation, it's called Hue Lens. It gives a really nice color boost. So not so much about protecting the actual eye, but enhancing their performance when it comes to an actual sport that they're playing. But when it comes to eGaming, that's crucial. If you can enhance the performance by 10 to 15%, that's crucial for them.

So luckily, I get to work with the Education Association, in the stae of New Jersey. So for me, I get to talk to the principal, the nurses, the teachers, the athletic directors about the importance of getting an eye exam, telling a little about that the eye is a muscle and it can be trained, and so it can be enhanced. And their job is to number one, see if they can possibly get mom and dad to bring them to get their eyes. Because just doing it at their local pediatrician is not enough, or their regular doctor visits.

To enhance people's sports performance with contrast sensitivity. So pretty much what that means is like the greens ore greener, or let's say the baseball, the seams of the baseball is a lot clearer for them. And so how do we do that? Again, it comes to tints but also just for everyday use. Let's say for example, you have a contact lens, and they have an astigmatism in their glasses. Try not to mask their astigmatism with their contact lenses; give them the full correction so that they can increase their contrast sensitivity. And it also will minimize fatigue as well. So that would be one tip that I would recommend.

In the end, try to get as much CE as you can. There's a lot of exhibitors obviously the reason why they come and support us, so please stop out at the exhibitor booth to see what's out there and new and exciting. What I found interesting when I went to the exhibit hall was—so myopia is a big epidemic now. I think CooperVision created a fun booth where it shows the experience of how it would be if a child was like a -6 or -4 or -2 and how their world is in the classroom. So I think that was pretty unique and fascinating tool.

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