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posted: 9/30/2016 1:00 AM

Vernon Hills firm helping athletes see their potential

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  • The Vizual Edge Performance Training program uses 3-D interactive technology to measure and assess a person's visual skills.

    The Vizual Edge Performance Training program uses 3-D interactive technology to measure and assess a person's visual skills.

  • Dr. Barry Seiller

    Dr. Barry Seiller

  • Kathy Puchalski

    Kathy Puchalski

 
 

A small Vernon Hills company is keeping its eye focused on improving the world's visual performance.

For the past 16 years, Vizual Edge has been providing its Vizual Edge Performance Training program primarily to athletes looking to improve visual skills, which in turn helps them improve their overall abilities.

As a result, the company started by ophthalmologist Dr. Barry Seiller in the 1990s has grown to become the provider of visual skills training to a number of professional sports organizations around the globe, from Major League Baseball and Olympic teams and international soccer teams.

Seiller, who co-founded Vizual Edge with Kathy Puchalski, says Vizual Edge Performance Training takes the standard eye test to the next level, as it measures and assesses functions such as eye/hand coordination, near-far perception, eye tracking and the ability to recognize and respond to scenes and applications.

"Your visual system dictates how well you function in life, athletics and any other occupation you choose," Seiller said. "What we're able to do is dissect the visual system into components and measure strengths and weaknesses. Then we reassemble the system so it's functioning at a higher level."

No edge too small

The Vizual Edge program begins with a baseline evaluation, according to Puchalski, who has a background in nursing. Using a computer, laptop or tablet, the patient wears 3-D red/blue glasses and performs a number of exercises, such as putting a red target in the middle of a blue box. Data is collected and the patient receives a score based how they perform each exercise.

The program develops percentile rankings in several categories based on the responses, and afterwords feedback is provided on the patient's strengths and weaknesses.

"In the athletic world, they're always looking at getting a little better and it's the little things that make the difference," Puchalski said. "We call it weight training for the eyes."

The Vizual Edge Performance Training program, like its clients, has undergone numerous improvements since its inception, Seiller said.

The program was first available in CD-ROM, and later became web-based.

Just recently, a version was released to operate on Android and Apple iOS formats.

"There are an increasing number of users that have embraced the tablet versions for all sorts of software. We felt an increase of that need and made Vizual Edge compatible for laptop and tablet," Puchalski said.

Seiller added scouts for 14 Major League Baseball teams have the program on their tablets and use it to evaluate team prospects.

"They'll test the athlete visually as well as physically," he said.

Non-athletes too

While athletes make up the majority of Vizual Edge clients, Seiller and Puchalski add the program is valuable to anyone who needs to have sharp visual skills to do their job, such as police officers and first responders or those who use computers.

"We are seeing an increase in academic applications as well," Puchalski said.

And while the they have many large and international clients, the program is available to anyone who wants to improve their visual skills. The cost for the program and evaluations start at $200, according to the Vizual Edge website. Puchalski notes that can make it affordable for parents who want to help their child athletes improve their skills. "It's such a basic, simple thing. But since we work with big athletes, many think they can't access or afford it," she said.

"It's a different kind of training." For more information, go to vizualedge.com.