Vitto Mena, Jr., OD, MS, shares highlights from his VEW 2022 presentation, "Intro to sports vision: children who play sports need safety eye protection."
Vitto Mena, Jr., OD, MS, advanced clinical director with Special Olympics, and international sports vision association member, as well as the sports vision director with Optical Academy, sat down with Optometry Times® editor Kassi Jackson to share highlights from his presentation, "Intro to sports vision: children who play sports need safety eye protection," which he presented during this year's Vision Expo West in Las Vegas.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:
Hi everyone. I'm joined today by Dr. Vitto Mena, advanced clinical director with Special Olympics and international sports division association member, as well as the sports division director with Optical Academy.
He's here to share highlights from his discussion titled, "Intro to sports vision: children who play sports need safety eye protection," which he's presenting during this year's Vision Expo West in Las Vegas.
Thank you for being here, Dr. Mena. Would you please just share with us the key takeaways from your presentation?
Pretty much my biggest takeaway is I want to teach the optometrist—or the technicians in an office—that everybody that comes into your exam room is an athlete.
And so if everyone's an athlete, we all have the ability to help them perform to their best whether they're in Little League, or they came to the pros or college level. And we have the ability and the tools to show them how to increase their eye-hand coordination, their accommodative ability, and we are the people on the front lines of being able to say, hey, go to the school and tell them about importance of getting a comprehensive eye exam.
So for me, at the practice that I head at Optical Academy, I am the sports division director. So when I get to go to the schools [I talk to] the teachers on number one getting a comprehensive eye exam.
Because what happens is, when these kids are out playing sports, a lot of times they don't realize they have a vision issue going on. And when they have a vision issue, then they're not gonna able to hit the ball or make the shot or make the game-winning shot, in essence. And so by just having that communication in the school systems is going to pretty much pipeline throughout the whole industry.
And so when we have that going on, we get them coming in for an eye exam, making sure that they see appropriately. And then what are the next steps: do they need contact lenses; do they need a pair of sports goggles?
Because prevention is key; but the craziest statistic that the emergency rooms—every 13 minutes, an eye-related injury goes to the emergency room. And the reason why is because they're not wearing their eye protective gear. They're not seeing things quickly enough and so they get injuries.