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Vision test predicts on-field MLB batting ability and beyond, according to Sports Vision

November 14, 2019

NEW YORK, Nov. 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- New research by Sports Vision demonstrates that a portable iPad test can evaluate the vision needed to hit a MLB pitch, with implications that can help everyone.

In a study, published November 14th in the journal Scientific Reports ( http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-52546-2 ), researchers evaluated 585 MLB baseball players using a new vision test. Using a patented statistical algorithm, targets are shown and a score is determined. The targets are not only limited to decreasing size, like the common vision chart, but incorporate changing contrast and limited viewing times. The combination of changing size, contrast and viewing time are more closely related to tasks requiring vision – such as driving and sports performance as examples.

The researchers found significant correlations between the test result and batting ability. Players who had excellent scores were more likely to gain base through a base-on-balls compared to players with vision in the bottom 20% of players tested. Batters were more selective in swinging at pitches both outside and inside the strike zone.

“These new tests of vision are much more sensitive than standard tests and are able to separate different visual abilities that lead to different on-field abilities,” noted lead author Daniel Laby, MD and Ophthalmologist who has been working with MLB clubs for decades.

About 25% of all MLB clubs use this test on their players, or prospects, to evaluate their ability and future likelihood of MLB success. Co-author, David Kirschen, OD, PhD Optometrist, notes that “this test is instrumental in identifying players who need visual correction to perform at the MLB level.”

In considering walk rate, the authors found that if all batters had visual ability in the top 20% of players tested, the team would have additional wins for the season. Additional wins can play a critical role in a tight division race or deciding which team has home-field advantage during the playoffs.

Dr. Laby notes that this test may also be useful in other areas (e.g. driving). Drivers often only get a quick look at small, faint, targets and must quickly decide to turn or brake. Standard tests of vision simply do not test under these conditions, whereas “this test was specifically designed to mirror our daily vision needs,” notes Laby.

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SOURCE Sports Vision