Vision is more than just seeing 20/20. There are many other visual skills that contribute to clear, comfortable and single vision. These skills are evaluated during a specialty binocular vision exam, and vary depending on each patient’s individual history. The following are examples of the skills that will be assessed:
Eye teaming skills
This is the ability of the two eyes to function as a team. Are they able to coordinate and work well together? Are the eye muscles able to sustain the eye teaming demands for long periods of time? (ie, prolonged reading or studying). Sometimes, poor eye teaming skills can cause eye turns or lazy eyes.
Symptoms of inefficient eye teaming skills include: eyestrain, headaches, blur, diplopia, symptoms worse at night, burning/tearing, sleepiness, decreased reading comprehension, slow reading and avoiding near work.
Eye movement control
Are the eyes able to accurately track a pre-determined target? Can they efficiently follow along a sequence, like when reading? Can they accurately look from one object to another, or follow a moving target?
Symptoms of inefficient eye movement control include: poor fixation, losing place while reading, re-reading the same line over, slow reading, poor reading comprehension, avoidance of near work
The accommodative, or focusing system, is party responsible for clear vision when doing near work. Good focusing skills also allow for an easy transition when shifting between looking far away and up close.
Symptoms of inefficient focusing skills include: blurred vision at near, eye strain or pulling around eyes, headaches, only reading for short periods of time, avoiding near work
Visual perceptual skills
There are many types of perceptual skills that affect how visual information is processed. These include visual spatial skills, visual analysis skills, visual memory, letter or direction reversals, audio-visual integration skills, visual motor skills, etc. Even with clear vision and good binocular vision, visual perceptual deficits can affect the ability to read and to learn.
A visual perceptual battery is indicated to test for various visual perceptual skill deficits when a child:
- Over the age of 6 and is reversing letters
- Shows laterality problems (mixes up their left and right)
- Has poor copying skills
- Has difficulty with busy backgrounds
- Has trouble with matching problems
- Is unable to look at an object or sequence and recall it
- Inability to recognize an object when it is a different size or orientation
- Struggling with visual-motor skills.
Vision therapy is highly recommended for patients with signs and symptoms of these visual conditions. After a comprehensive eye exam and appropriate binocular vision and/or visual perceptual examination, a therapy program can be designed to improve these skills. The therapy program is a set of guided exercises and activities designed specifically to improve visual skills. Vision therapy has become more popular as studies are showing its effectiveness.
The vision therapy program consists of weekly 45-minute sessions of one on one patient care. Home exercises and activities will be given after each session to help build visual skills.