CATARACTS ARE A PART OF AGING

If you are coming in to your 40s, you may be noticing that your eyesight is changing. You have to strain a little to read, holding the book or newspaper farther away, or you find you need to wear bifocals. You may even notice a bit of clouding of the lens of your eyes. What is going on?   Your eyes, like many other parts of the body, are showing signs of aging. The Crystalline lens in your eye is becoming less flexible. This makes it more difficult for the lens to adjust and focus when you look from far to near.

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GLAUCOMA

Age takes its toll on all parts of the body, even the eyes. While conditions such as glaucoma are not necessarily inevitable as we get older, they are still possibilities that can change the way we see. It always pay to practice foresight – it just may save your eyesight.  Glaucoma is a rather complex disease. Simply put, it occurs when fluid pressure builds up in your eyes. Approximately two and a half quarts of fluid, called aqueous humor, pumps through the eyes every day, providing.....

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PUT AN EYE EXAM ON YOUR BACK-TO-SCHOOL TO-DO LIST

The American Optometric Association recommends preschool children receive a complete vision exam at the ages of 6 months, 3 years and 5 years. It is particularly important a child have a complete evaluation in the summer prior to entry into kindergarten. Kentucky was the first state to make a law that says you have to have an exam by a optometrist or ophthalmologist the first time you enter Kentucky public schools. The main thing is to make sure children are seeing the black/ whiteboard.

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AUTISM AND EYESIGHT

It may surprise you to learn eyesight and autism spectrum disorders have a connection.


One of the major symptoms of autism is a lack of eye contact. Few people with autism have trouble with their eyesight. The problem is with the person’s ambient visual system. The ambient system is concerned with things going on around us in the background. It generally filters everything out for us because noticing every little thing in the visual field would be overwhelming. However, people on the autism spectrum have trouble using the central and peripheral visual systems simultaneously, so subsequently they have trouble filtering things. Having autism can be compared to walking around with the tubes from paper towels in front of your face. You would move your head around constantly, trying to check out your environment and keep up with what’s going on. People on the autism spectrum tend to get hyperstimulated when there is too much peripheral movement happening all around them. Their ambient visual system is not telling them that people are, perhaps, moving in many different directions, both forward and backwards. Confused, needing to feel where they are in relationship to the things around them, people on the autism spectrum might start exhibiting stimming – self-stimulatory behavior that incorporates the repetition of physical movements, including flapping the arms. When the ambient visual system works as it is

supposed to, people on the autism spectrum don’t experience overstimulation.


Vision therapy using yoked prisms has been shown to help people on the autism spectrum tremendously, sometimes even removing autism tendencies. This therapy has a major impact on the ambient vision system. It is not a cure for autism; it is a calming of the sensory system. In one documented case, a 14-year-old boy who had never said more than one-word sentences started speaking full sentences within 15 minutes of putting on a pair of yoked prisms. The prism changes the distribution of light on the retina; one theory espouses the prism resets the timing between the ambient and focal vision systems. When they are out of sync, a prism can help the two systems blend better. Yoked prisms do what any therapy – physical, occupational, speech – is meant to do: create a new, more meaningful and useful environment for the patient. It changes input and thus changes output.


Vision therapy is an attempt to understand the world in which a per- son on the autism spectrum lives and moves, to understand what makes their sensory input different and to take steps to improve it. It is effective for both children and adults.

Once there is a better understanding of what is affecting the person with autism, vision therapy can expand his or her peripheral awareness and help him or her achieve the ability to judge space and distance so they don’t get as overwhelmed as quickly. For more information about yoked prisms and the autism spectrum, a recommended book is Mel Kaplan’s “Seeing Through New Eyes,” which details his work with patients on the autism spectrum.

DR. RICK GRAEBE

Dr. Graebe received both his B.S degree in Visual Science and Doctorate of Optometry from Indiana University. He is a Behavioral Optometrist and learning expert. He has been in private practice here in the Bluegrass area for the past 32 years.

more articles by dr rick graebe