VISION THERAPY AND ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY

The eye is amazing. Did you know more than 1.9 million fibers come from the eye into the brain? Each of those fibers creates its own pathway to the brain and has its own distinct function. So when someone has a stroke or other acquired brain injury (ABI), vision is often affected.  ABIs include concussions suffered in severe sports-related hits or a car accident, as well as cerebral or vascular strokes. An ABI can affect both neurological pathways in the eye, the focal or parvocellular pathway, which is....

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SYNTONICS: CREATING BALANCE FOR THE EYES

Syntonics, or optometric phototherapy, is a form of light therapy used to treat a variety of vision problems. It is available at Family Eyecare Associates to help patients with a variety of vision problems, such as strabismus (eye turns), amblyopia (lazy eye), focusing and convergence problems and learning disorders. It has also been shown to be very effective for people who suffer from migraines.

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WHAT IS BEHAVIORAL OPTOMETRY?

Behavioral optometry starts with the concept that vision is learned. When we’re born, we don’t know how to use our arms, legs and hands. We also don’t know how to use our eyes. We have to learn how to integrate them with the rest of our body. The brain must process what the eyes are seeing, and then it has to integrate that information with the other senses. From a behav- ioral standpoint, seeing requires a more holistic approach, getting all the senses to work together.

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WHAT IS BEHAVIORAL OPTOMETRY?

Behavioral optometry starts with the concept that vision is learned. When we’re born, we don’t know how to use our arms, legs and hands. We also don’t know how to use our eyes. We have to learn how to integrate them with the rest of our body. The brain must process what the eyes are seeing, and then it has to integrate that information with the other senses. From a behavioral standpoint, seeing requires a more holistic approach, getting all the senses to work together. Vision is movement: We learn how to use our eyes through moving our bodies. Our eyes control our movement through space. You can’t make an eye movement without sending a message to your body, and you can’t make a body movement with- out sending a neurological message to your eyes.


We know 70 percent of the input to the brain comes from the visual sense. From a developmental standpoint, the eyes initially are just simply watching, tracking and following the hands. Later, as we continue climbing the developmental ladder, the eyes begin directing the hands, telling them where to go. Visual input helps us attain fine motor skills as our eyes guide our fingers to do such tasks as threading a needle or holding a pen and writing. The eyes working together as a team allows us to judge space and distance. Changing input results in changing output.


While the term “hand-eye coordination” is well known, it is more accurate to use the phrase eye-hand coordination. The eyes have

to lead first, but when we’re learning how to do this, we start out watching hand movements. The first year of life is more about taste and smell. The next two years are more about touch and feel. By the time we’re three years old, vision starts to become our dominant sense. By using our hands and eyes together, we discover we can “touch” and explore the world with our eyes. We don’t have to physically grab items to determine what they are.


If you don’t learn proper visual skills early in your life, your eyes and brain will often devise shortcuts. Your brain has to use the visual information from both eyes. If the two eye views cannot be matched up, the brain will be forced to make a choice. It will reject all or part of the information from one eye. It may ignore, suppress or turn off visual information it cannot use. You can retrain the brain and teach it how to see properly and optimally. From a behavioral and developmental vision standpoint, this means re-forming or re-creating neurological pathways. In some cases, you can even create new pathways. This empowers you to take charge of your own visual wellbeing. The behavioral or developmental optometrist has two goals for every patient: that their eyes will learn to work as a team so the patient will have good depth perception, and they will not have to depend on glasses in order to function in the world.


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