Did you see that?

Cricket game in action
Author:  Australian Sports Commission
Issue: Volume 6 Number 2

No doubt many referees, umpires and judges have all heard the call – did you see that?  Spectators, athletes, coaches and commentators can be quick to voice their difference of opinion surrounding an official’s decision. People do see things differently and it’s not just our bias that clouds our judgement.

Over half of vision impairment in Australia is due to refractive error and is easily corrected. A refractive error is when the image of the object a person is looking at is not focused properly onto the retina (the light sensitive tissue in the back of the eye). For perfectly clear vision, the image of a viewed object needs to be focused onto the retina.  If the image is not focused exactly on the retina, then the image will be blurred.

There are four main types of refractive errors:

  • Myopia - Shortsightedness is the name most people call myopia. Shortsighted people do not see distant objects clearly.
  • Hyperopia - or longsightedness is the opposite of myopia. Hyperopic people have difficulty seeing near objects clearly, although they may be able to focus on distant objects.
  • Astigmatism - a focusing error that causes asymmetric blur.  An image will be more blurred in one direction than another.  This can be contrasted with myopia or hyperopia in which all directions are equally blurred.
  • Presbyopia - the gradual reduction in the amount that the eye can change its focus.  It is not a disease but a normal part of the ageing process, affecting everyone over the age of about 45.

Other eye conditions include:

  • Cataracts - cloudiness that forms in the lens of the eye, which over time grows larger making it difficult to see. Often the development of cataracts is a gradual and painless deterioration in sight. Symptoms can include blurred or hazy vision, spots before the eyes, double vision and increased sensitivity to glare.
  • Glaucoma - a degenerative disease of the optic nerve which transmits information from the eye to the brain. People who have a family history of glaucoma are four times more likely to develop the disease.
  • Diabetic retinopathy - occurs when tiny blood vessels inside the retina are damaged. The damage can block off small blood vessels, starving areas of the retina of blood, or make the vessels leak, causing swelling and bleeding. All people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy and the longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk.
  • Macular degeneration - the macular is the central part of the retina on the back of the eye responsible for seeing fine detail and colour.  Damage to the macular leads to central vision loss and Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Australia. People over 50 years old, smokers or ex-smokers and those with a family history, are at a high risk of MD and the incidence increases with age.

The Optometrists Association of Australia recommends that everyone should have their eyes tested every two years unless otherwise advised by their optometrist.

Officials’ eye health is critical to performance, so for more information and to see how you can maximise your performance visit the OAA website www.optometrists.asn.au to search for an optometrist in your area or for more information and advice about eye conditions.

Ten tips about eye health

  1. Have a comprehensive eye examination every two years, or more frequently if recommended by your optometrist.
  2. Try and find out your family history of eye disease.  Some conditions, such as glaucoma, have a strong genetic connection. 
  3. Eating a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, fish and nuts helps reduce the risk of macular degeneration
  4. Protect your eyes from UV damage with sunglasses or photochromic lenses, which go dark when outdoors.
  5. Try and give your eyes a break every 15 minutes or so when using the computer or watching television.  Look around the room or outdoors to reduce eye strain.
  6. Self-prescribing magnifier spectacles that you can buy from the chemist rather than having a comprehensive eye examination can have negative consequences.  They may be masking the symptoms rather than solving the problem.
  7. If you are a smoker, quitting smoking will reduce your risk of developing eye disease.
  8. Protect your eyes from debris, dust and chemicals when doing DIY activities around the home by wearing eye protection that meets Australian Standards.
  9. Many people assume that with age their vision deteriorates, which is not always the case.  Most vision problems can be rectified through a correct prescription for spectacles or surgery.
  10. Protect children’s eyes from UV as most of the cumulative damage from UV can occur before the age of 18.

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