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Bid to boost sports culture could be hampered by poor eyesight

SWAG-BLACK-AND-ORANGE.thumbPrimary schools in Sheffield will be given more funding for sports due to the current government’s pledge of £150 million until 2020 in a bid to encourage children to be active and enjoy sport.

However the millions invested may not benefit children whose poor eyesight affects their ability to throw and catch a ball.

Alex Gage, who owns two practices in Crosspool and Woodseats, is keen to stress the importance of children’s eye care and says eye health can affect other skills such as depth perception, tracking skills and peripheral vision.

“It is important for a child to have regular eye tests to make sure both eyes are developing as a pair,” said Alex Gage, who holds a diploma in sports vision.

“This is crucial to help with judging distances, moving around outdoors and interacting with other objects and players.

“Sports vision testing is more extensive than a typical eye exam: it evaluates how you use your vision and determines your sport-related needs.”

He also said that many children are not aware of the option of wearing contact lenses for sport but added that it was a matter of being responsible and keeping them clean.

From this month, Alex Gage Family Optometrists will also stock a range of Bolle protective sports eyewear.

Dean Walls, Bushnell Performance Optics area sales manager for the North, said they selected Alex Gage to stock the eyewear as they recognised his involvement in local sport in the area.

He said: “Many young people who wear glasses do not get the chance to participate in sports but if we encourage children to wear this protective eyewear, there is no reason they cannot take part.

“I would advise anyone who is concerned about sport eye protection, or has children who play or want to play sports, to book an appointment with Alex who can further inform you of the options available.”

Figures from a survey by Sight Care, an organisation of independent opticians, show that almost a fifth of children said they struggled to see the ball when playing sport – leading to are fears that children cannot take part in sports if they are suffering from poor vision.

In the same survey, 16% said they struggled to see their team mates while a further 13% admitted to having blurred vision.

Alex Gage has worked with the GB Boxing Team at the English Institute for Sport and the national Rugby Football League coaching team.