Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Players, Keep Your 'Eyes on the Ball'; Black Paint on the Face Helps Reduce Bothersome Glare from the Sunlight

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Players, Keep Your 'Eyes on the Ball'; Black Paint on the Face Helps Reduce Bothersome Glare from the Sunlight

Article excerpt

Byline: ED GEFEN, The Times-Union

Coaches in just about every sport tell their players to keep their eyes on the ball.

But in football, that can be more difficult than it sounds. When you wear a helmet, that reduces your peripheral vision -- what you can see to the far left and far right. Also, with huge men wearing lots of equipment, it's easy to lose track of where the ball actually is. If it's a bright, sunny day or a night game with bright stadium lights on, it's even more difficult for players to keep their eyes on the ball.

They need any help they can get.

Q: Why do they have black paint under their eyes?

Marisa Milhous

Third grade

Durbin Creek Elementary

It looks like war paint, but it can be very helpful. The black paint is called "eye black," and according to Mike Ryan, the Jaguars' head athletic trainer/physical therapist, "Its purpose is to minimize the reflection of sunlight off the skin on the cheek in an effort to catch the ball."

Companies sell eye black in tubes and sticks, which make the greasy substance easy to apply.

"It is more of a waxy lipstick feel compared to the old chalky charcoal," Ryan wrote in an e-mail.

Back when your parents were kids, the black smears under eyes were likely to be from charcoal. In fact, charcoal is used now in many antiglare devices, such as screens that cover computer monitors.

Glare-reduction for players also comes in another form, Mueller Eye Black Strips, which are stickers made from fabric. The company also makes a "premium" strip that goes under both eyes and across the bridge of the nose.

"They don't smudge with sweating and rubbing of the eyes," Ryan wrote, but he added that more Jaguars use the greasy eye black than stickers.

Last year, doctors at Yale University's Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science (ophthalmology is the study of the eye and how it works) reported that black grease worked better than the tape patches in a study of how well 46 students could see things in the sun. …

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