Seeing vs. Doing
Most people expect one thing and one thing only when visiting an eye doctor – the ability to read the 20/20 line on the distant eye chart. This is also the primary focus (pun unavoidable) of most eye doctors. Many children are told there is nothing wrong with their vision because they are already able to read the 20/20 line. This is simply about seeing. My experience in working with children who have developmental and/or learning issues tells a very different story. Many, if not most, of the children I see are able to read the 20/20 line without glasses. Very few of the others remain unable to read that line with glasses. I’m not saying that seeing 20/20 isn’t a good thing, but why are so many children having vision problems even though their doctor says nothing is wrong? This is about doing. By the way, adults are not immune from the same situation. They may complain of headaches, eye strain, eye fatigue/discomfort with reading or the computer only to be told that nothing is wrong with their eyes because they can see clearly.
Clear eyesight, which is the only thing tested in most offices, is usually much less important than the other things I test, particularly eye movements, eye teaming and focusing. Most visually related developmental and/or learning problems stem from difficulty managing tasks within arm’s reach. This is often related to eye movements, eye teaming and focusing deficiencies. These important issues continue to fly under the radar all too often. Again the same holds true for adults with visual complaints; even when most doctors insist that the complaints are not visually related - they often are.
The primary purpose of the visual process is to direct action. The visual process is not passive. It is much more than eyesight, which is simply seeing clearly. We must move to learn. We must move to develop. Think about how difficult it would be to move without the advantage of seeing. The brain stores movement sequences more than it does things/pictures. The visual process understands, plans out and guides our movements. Whenever there is a question about visual processing, development or learning performance, it is time for an opinion from a behavioral optometrist.
Most lenses are prescribed for one single purpose: to see 20/20 at distance. I try to prescribe lenses to help with what people do and how well they do it - not just how clearly people see - as often as possible. Lenses prescribed and used in the right way, can stimulate development, reduce stress, make reading easier and more efficient, help people judge distances better, move more efficiently and prevent visual problems from ever happening in the first place in some cases.
Don’t let a simple eye exam fool you into thinking your visual system is doing everything it’s supposed to do if you are having problems with reading or learning or working comfortably at the computer. Don’t give up on solving your headaches, eye fatigue, poor coordination or car sickness without having a more in-depth visual evaluation. Don’t stop looking for answers if your child has developmental and or learning difficulties just because the eye doctor says her vision is fine. For a more comprehensive checklist of what to look for to determine if you should see a behavioral optometrist click here.
To find a behavioral optometrist near you go to OEPF.org