HIDDEN VISION DISABILITIES CAN CAUSE READING PROBLEMS

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-based. About 75 percent of children with reading difficulties actually have a problem with their two eyes working together properly, such as binocular vision deficiencies. A binocular vision impairment is any visual condition wherein binocular visual skills are inadequately developed.

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BRAIN INJURY CAN AFFECT VISION

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.

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VISION AND CLOSE WORK

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.

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VISION AND CLOSE WORK

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. When you look at something in the distance, both eyes move in the same direction, but when you look at something close, your eyes’ pointing muscles have to cross to focus. To see the tiny letters on your phone, you have to be much more precise than when you’re looking at a tree. To keep both eyes turned in and pointed precisely is one of the most difficult things the eye-pointing muscles have to do. You are using the macula, which is located in the dead center of the retina. That extra precision requires extra effort from the eyes. Sometimes when you spend too much time reading or playing on your phone, you might feel headachy, sleepy or have trouble concentrating. Close work can cause eyestrain.


One way to combat possible eyestrain is to adhere to the “20-20-20” rule. When you’re working on your computer or watching videos or texting on your phone, be sure to look up every 20 minutes. Focus your eyes 20 feet away for 20 seconds to rest them. This is also a good time

to roll your shoulders and neck to relieve the strain sitting can place on them.


More and more children nowadays are already picking up the constant phone watching habit. They also spend more time playing video games. A growing number of children in the United States (about 30 percent) are presenting as nearsighted. (It’s almost 50 percent in Asia.) The increased screen time is suspected. For children, the recommendation is to follow a “5-2-1” standard. Every day, children should eat five servings of fruits and vegetables. They should have no more than two hours total of screen time a day, including watching TV and playing video games. And they should spend at least one hour doing some type of physical activity, preferably outdoors. When children are just sitting there looking at a screen, they are not learning about their body and space. They need to explore, touch and feel so they can learn how to move in a three dimensional world. Children need to get feedback from the sensory system through movement, touch and visual and auditory stimulation. This is critical for the development of spatial awareness. It’s up to parents to help children wean themselves from their electronic addictions. One way to do that is to be mindful of your own use of your phone, laptop, iPad and other devices and lay them aside once in a while to play outside with your kids.


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