IU study tries to improve athletes’ vision with high-tech training

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Baseball players at Indiana University are taking their training to a new level. The team is part of a new optometry study to see if high-tech drills can improve their hand-eye coordination.

IU is partnering with Duke University on this research, and their work is being funded by the United States Army.

“The challenges of hitting a round ball with a round bat where the ball is moving at you at 90 MPH is a very visually demanding sport,” said Nicholas Port, the lead researcher working the tests at IU.

Players are going through a series of tests, which includes strobing sunglasses that restrict vision anywhere from 10% to 90%, and an LED light rail. Players follow a light that represents a ball. When they believe they should swing, they hit a button.

“First couple weeks you’re getting hit in the face with tennis balls,” IU infielder Jake Skrine said of the strobing glasses. “But by the end of it, you’re catching everything. I ended up hitting really well in the fall when we were doing it actively throughout the study. I felt good.”

Duke and IU plan to get together at the end of the summer to compare data. Port said they need to expand the study before releasing any information. In the near future, the school plans to test IU softball team next.

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