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Stamford Doctor's Vision Combines Optometry, Improved Athletic Performance

Jennifer Stewart of Norwalk and her husband, Gus Ellison, will be opening a new business in Stamford this month that helps athletes improve performance by focusing on improving their vision.
Jennifer Stewart of Norwalk and her husband, Gus Ellison, will be opening a new business in Stamford this month that helps athletes improve performance by focusing on improving their vision. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Performance 20/20

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Dr. Jennifer Stewart feels now is the perfect time to combine her twin passions of optometry and athletics. With two young children, a thriving practice and busy schedule as a recreational triathlete, the Norwalk resident feels ready to take on her most challenging professional project.

Jennifer and her husband, Gus Ellison, will open a new business later this month in Stamford. Performance 20/20 will focus on helping athletes improve eye-hand coordination, reaction time, peripheral vision and athletic performance. The business will open at 1063 Hope St., the home of Stamford Twin Rinks.

“This has been a dream of mine for 10 years or more in the making,’’ Jennifer said. “I never expected it would take this long, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Jennifer co-owns Norwalk Eye Care and will remain in practice there. Gus left a full-time position as a consultant in the financial services sector to join his wife at Performance 20/20.

Stewart said advancing technology has changed the way athletes can improve performance with their vision. She will use Senaptec, which assesses 10 visual and sensory motor skills using scientific methods with digital displays and input devices. The device can also analyze assessments to a database by sport, position and competition to reveal strengths and opportunities for improvement, and develop an improvement plan.

Stewart’s other technology component is a NeuroTracker, which enhances and measures cognitive ability. It uses the visual system to stimulate neuronal activity.

Both devices have evolved over the past few years, and Stewart feels both have been fine-tuned to provide the data athletes need. She said Performance 20/20 will be the only business in the New York region to provide the service.

“Everyone in Fairfield County is passionate about sports and people want to excel,’’ she said. “It’s for anyone who wants to take their performance to the next level. It will help athletes respond quicker, focus better and have more awareness and see better.”

The process starts when the athlete completes a detailed questionnaire on the first visit. Stewart’s staff will then conduct an assessment on both devices, which will take about 20 minutes each. Coaches will then develop a training plan, ranging from 12 to 36 sessions. Sessions will last about 45 minutes and clients will have one to three sessions each week.

“Think of it as a strength and conditioning, but for eyes and the visual system,’’ Jennifer said. “We’ll tell you where you are, show you where you want to be, and here are the tools to get you there.”

Athletes who play eye-hand sports such as baseball, golf, lacrosse and ice hockey will benefit from the service. Jennifer thinks other sports can as well. “It will help increase focus,’’ she said. “I’ve worked with ballet dancers, downhill skiers and sailors. It’s important to hold that focus and not get visually fatigued.”

Stewart has hired coaches to help clients with sports specific training, and each training program will be tailored to the client. “We’ll all work together to develop the training plan,’’ she said. “No two people will have the same program.”

Gus and Jennifer are accomplished endurance athletes, competing mostly in triathlons. The Norwalk couple has two boys, ages 8 months and 3 years, and a full calendar of races slated for summer. Now they have a new business to run as well. “This our real third baby,’’ Stewart said.

For more information about Performance 20/20, click here to visit the website or contact Jennifer at 203-900-7494.

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