It is interesting to note how eyesight has evolved. The vision system used to be more about looking far afield for what could be hunted and eaten – and what could hunt and eat us. These days, people are spending more time with their gazes fixed on their computer or TV screens or cell phones. There are certain physical dynamics to this everyday phenomenon. There is a lens inside the eye that flexes and focuses, so when we look at things up close, that lens has to work extra hard.
Unlike some other skills we use in our everyday lives, driving relies almost exclusively on our sense of sight. We feel our feet on the ground as we move about or know we are sitting in a chair; we are fully aware of our surroundings. This sensory information lets us know where the ground or chair is. When you are driving, there is no movement of your body. It is totally about your vision and how precisely your two eyes work together. If your eyes are not aligned perfectly, you may think an object is closer or farther away....
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.
Whether they’re swinging at a fastball, shooting free throws, lining up a putt or setting up a dig, athletes depend a great deal on their vision. They have to keep their eye on the ball in order to connect properly and hit a homer, make the basket, sink the putt or send a spike between two opponents. Many pro teams have a vision therapy program for their players. The program works on improving the athletes’ recognition and response. A sports vision therapist will show a baseball player photographers of a pitcher holding a ball...
Visual efficiency is more than 20/20 vision, and there is much more to reading problems than dyslexia or ADHD. About 85 percent of schooling is visual-
A concussion, also known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or an acquired brain injury, can adversely affect vision. Unfortunately, possible visual problems are often overlooked during the initial treatment of a concussion. Perhaps a coach or doctor will move a finger in front of the patient’s eyes to see how they track movement, but this cursory examination does not get to the deeper repercussions of the injury.
Vision involves over 70% of the neural pathways of the brain. Vision is more than eye sight. Vision is the only body system that continues to develop after birth. Vision involves the way the eyes and brain interact. It takes approximately three years for the eyes to learn how to work together. When they do not, it can result in the eyes turning in (esotropia) or out (exotropia), crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia).
What happened the last time you went on the Mad Tea Party ride at DisneyWorld? Did you enjoy yourself initially, but as the ride went on, did you start to feel sick and disoriented? When you closed your eyes, however, you probably felt much better. And you were immensely glad when the ride ended and you could get your bearings again.
It may surprise you to learn eye-
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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-
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-
Vision therapy is an attempt to understand the world in which a per-
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. 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.