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Alexandria: 703-660-9494
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"See the professionals the professionals see."

Seeing 20/20 just isn’t enough in the world of sports vision. Serious athletes of all ages who are looking to gain a competitive edge with enhanced visual performance are turning to Dr. Keith Smithson, our sports vision specialist.

Dr. Smithson and former Washington Redskins' Clinton Portis

Dr. Smithson and former Washington Nationals' Christian Guzman

Dr. Smithson evaluates and treats professional athletes from D.C. United, the Washington Nationals, the Baltimore Ravens, the Washington Mystics and the Washington Freedom. He has also served as a sports vision consultant for Vistakon and Nike. Dr. Smithson conducts comprehensive eye examinations, fits contact lenses and treats injuries and disease for many of these athletes. He also helps professional athletes and amateurs gain a competitive edge with sports vision training and enhancement.

Dr. Smithson works with amateur and professional athletes to enhance visual systems to achieve peak performance. His sports-vision evaluations go beyond the scope of even the most comprehensive eye examinations with additional testing in 14 visual categories including eye-hand and eye-body coordination, reaction time, visual concentration, peripheral vision, eye tracking, eye focusing and depth perception. If a deficit is found or if a patient wants to enhance existing skills, vision training is prescribed, using a combination of home and office training techniques.

Because all sports are different, and visual demands vary, an eye doctor who specializes in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper eye glasses or contact lenses, or design a vision therapy program to maximize your visual skills for a specific sport. Dr. Smithson can also recommend the right kind of protective eyewear for a particular sport.

A visual problem, rather than a lack of practice or mastery of the sport, may be hampering your performance. Do you:

  • fail to see the ball clearly
  • have difficulty knowing where the ball or other players are at all times
  • over- or under-estimate the distance of the ball, players, or boundaries
  • make similar mistakes over and over again
  • lack noticeable improvement with practice
  • have trouble remembering plays

Important visual skills that can affect performance:

  • Dynamic Visual Activity - the ability to see objects clearly while in motion
  • Eye Tracking - closely related to dynamic visual acuity, this is the ability to 'keep your eye on the ball', or follow a moving ball. It is also known as ‘vision pursuit’
  • Eye Focusing - the ability to change focus quickly and accurately from one distance to another
  • Peripheral Vision - the ability to see people and objects 'out of the corner of your eye' while concentrating on a fixed point. You do not see things in the same way that you see something in front of you, but you simply become aware of someone or something on your left or right.
  • Depth Perception – the ability to quickly and accurately judge the distance between yourself, the ball, your opponents, teammates, boundary lines, and other objects
  • Fusion and Flexibility Stamina – the ability to keep both eyes working together, even under high speed and physically stressful conditions
  • Visualization - the ability to picture events with your mind's eye or imagination. This relates to remembering plays, court position, planning future action.
  • Eye-hand and Body Coordination - appropriate use of your hands, feet and body when responding to visual information, i.e. getting yourself to the ball
  • Visual Concentration – the ability to stay on task for increased awareness and fewer distractions

Eye Injury Prevention

Eye protection should be a major concern for all athletes, especially those involved in certain high risk sports. Thousands of men, women and children suffer eye injuries each year, included some that are blinding. Many of these injuries could have been prevented if protective sports eyewear had been used. Protective eyewear is available with prescription and non-prescription lenses. Ask your optometrist which type is best suited for you.