New glasses improve hockey players' vision

December 30, 2013


New glasses improve hockey players's vision

Hockey can often be a dangerous sport due to its high-contact nature. Collisions occur frequently on the ice, leading players to sustain some of the most common sports injuries, including concussions and knee injuries. However, a new study has found that hockey players may have improved performance with the help of some innovative eyewear.

Researchers teamed up with players from the Carolina Hurricanes to test strobe glasses, a form of eyewear that produces stroboscopic visual conditions similar to strobe lights used at concerts and nightclubs. According to the study, which was published in the latest issue of Athletic Training & Sports Health Care, the glasses alternate between transparent and opaque lenses at various rates, giving the glasses that strobe-light effect.

After having the professional hockey players perform a series of skill tests on the ice while wearing the strobe glasses, the researchers found that the players improved their performance by 18 percent. Meanwhile, the control group showed no change. 

"That 18-percent improvement for on-ice skills for professional players is huge," said researcher Stephen Mitroff. "This is a dramatic improvement observed in professional athletes ... So, given that this is a small sample size, I would imagine that with more data the effect will be significant and real, but a smaller percent improvement."

Mitroff added that the glasses helped the players train for difficult conditions, improving not only their vision, but also attention and ability to anticipate the movement of other players. Although the glasses are being used now primarily for athletics, the researchers believe they may be beneficial in medical, physical therapy and military settings.

The quick speeds and footwork required of hockey players can often result in traumatic injuries. A report released earlier this year found that 85 concussions occurred on the ice during the 2012-2013 season of professional hockey. However, players can prevent these mishaps by conditioning their bodies in practice and during the off-season.

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