BlazerVision improves how UAB student-athletes play the game

UAB School of Optometry and Department of Ophthalmology partner with UAB Athletics to provide better eye care to UAB student-athletes. 

Student-athletes at the University of Alabama at Birmingham will see their sport in a new perspective through BlazerVision, a new partnership between UAB AthleticsSchool of Optometry and Department of Ophthalmology. As part of UAB Athletics’ pre-participation examinations, each student-athlete will receive comprehensive eye care, acute game-time care and state-of-the-art concussion baseline testing.

“UAB supports our athletes on and off the field,” said UAB Director of Athletics Mark Ingram. “We want parents to know that we’ll provide a spectrum of unmatched care using our significant resources in health care right here on campus. Maximized vision and eye health are critical to developing excellence in the classroom and on the field.”

Each preseason, UAB student-athletes will receive comprehensive services at UAB Eye Care. Vision will be evaluated through an eye teaming assessment, looking at visual efficiency skills to ensure the eyes are working in coordination with each other. Athletes will be provided with contact lenses, eye glasses and rec specs, as needed, to maximize performance both in the classroom and on the playing field.

To keep the athlete’s vision protected, each athlete will receive a dilated eye exam that will evaluate ocular health and assess risk related to sports impact and ocular trauma. 

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is our top priority,” said UAB Director of Medical Services M. Heath Hale, M.D. “When we can take advantage of world-renowned optometrists and ophthalmologists working together right here on campus, it’s a win for everyone.”

During each game, an optometrist will be on-site or on-call to help team physicians and athletic trainers care for any ocular injuries or emergencies that occur. Each UAB athletic team will work with a dedicated optometrist who knows each student-athlete’s vision history, and can jump in to handle any number of instances, including abrasion assessment, contact lens replacement, retina evaluation and infection control. Any time a complex or surgical eye injury is encountered, the optometrist will refer to one of the uniquely qualified ophthalmologists at UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, one of only two Level 1 ocular trauma centers in the United States with a 24/7 eye emergency department.  

eye3Madison Millsaps, a UAB softball player, receives a comprehensive eye exam from UAB optometry student, Grant Fowler.Faculty from the UAB Vestibular Ocular Research Clinic (VORClinic) and UAB Eye Care will provide preseason, postseason and immediate post-impact exposure concussion testing. Optometrists will look at eye tracking, alignment and teaming through a series of visual and balance tests to determine the baseline for each athlete and any change moving forward. A pupilometer will also be studied at high-impact sports to determine its benefit in sideline concussion testing protocols.

“Having baseline vision and balance information will give us objective information that will help us get our concussed athletes back in the classroom and back on the field when we know it’s safe to return,” said UAB Eye Care’s Katherine Weise, O.D., Executive Committee member of the VORClinic.

UAB student-athletes will have the opportunity to enroll in ongoing research within the VORClinic, such as vestibular ocular reflex, objective pupil function and iPad-based executive function testing. UAB eye care providers, vision scientists and physical therapy researchers have partnered with UAB Athletics and Children’s of Alabama. Using the eye as a window to the brain, the team has a shared goal of being the national leader in the safety of athletics.