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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Vision Shapes Perception and Possibilities

Sep 01, 2014 03:47AM ● By Randy Schulman and Narvan Bakhtiari

photo by Carissa Rogers

We find the topic of transformation fascinating, particularly in regards to vision. Vision transforms light energy into information we can interpret and use to understand our surroundings. We often take our eyes for granted and think our vision is the same as everyone else’s. That is not the case. Each of us has a unique perspective; perception is based on our eyes, our brain and our previous experiences. Factors such as early development, beliefs we are taught, nutrition, exercise and environment all play a role in how we view the world and how we function in the world. What is remarkable about our vision is that it not only shapes how we see our world, but is absolutely capable of changing, improving and expanding our possibilities. We will touch upon the impact of vision development and visual experiences, and how these factors shape how we see and who we are.

Vision develops over time. At 3 months of age, we are able to see some depth and color and can focus our eyes to get things clear. Around 2 to 3 years of age, we start to coordinate our eyes and use them to seek out and explore our environment. We continue to develop eye-hand and eye-body coordination in our early years. It is not until we are nearly 8 years old that we can track smoothly, a necessary skill for reading a book or tracking a ball in sports. Our perceptions of space – how far or big something is, and differentiating different shapes and symbols – and understanding right and left continue to develop between 5 and 12 years of age.

Vision is so critical to learning and life that if it is not working properly, it will impact academics, driving, sports or certain hobbies. In fact, 80 percent of all sensory information coming into the brain stems from our visual system. It makes sense that a properly working visual system will maximize our potential.

One can imagine the impact on a child who has not developed good tracking or focusing skills, or visual perceptual skills such as visual memory, right and left awareness or eye hand coordination. These children struggle with reading, are poor spellers, and have difficulty with math. They may also be uncoordinated and struggle with sports.  Children who have had early delays in development, poor nutrition and limited outdoor play are more prone to difficulties with basic visual skills, particularly those who spend much time on a screen rather than interacting with their environment. As a result, these children may not succeed in school, work below their potential, and may have poor self-esteem. If unaddressed in childhood, such visual problems persist into adulthood.

How do we know if our visual system is working properly? Only vision care providers testing the functional visual system can determine whether or not you or your child’s visual demands match your skill development. A behavioral or integrated optometrist is able to assess eye teaming, focusing flexibility, eye movements, perception and eye-hand and eye-body coordination. These skills are not checked in typical eye examinations. If any of these visual skills are lacking, behavioral optometrists are able assist you in developing and improving your vision using lenses, prisms, colored lights and vision training. Such a program may include using special glasses temporarily or only for certain visual tasks. Training for the eyes may be done in the office on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis, or done at home with periodic progress evaluations. Vision training is a highly effective way to improve skills, reduce the need for glasses, improve efficiency at work and enhance sports performance.

For more information on Randy Schulman, MS, OD, FCOVD, and Narvan Bakhtiari, visit Eyecare Associates has office locations in Trumbull, Norwalk and Southport. See ad, page 22. 

Checklist indicating possible vision problems:
• Struggling in school or at work
• Working below potential
• Poor organizational skills
• Easily frustrated
• Fatigues easily with reading, writing or school work
• Difficulties reading
• Loss of place, re-reading and skipping lines when reading
• Poor reading comprehension
• Frequent reversals when reading or writing
• Difficulty copying from board or from spreadsheets
• Finds it hard to complete work
• Behavior concerns
• Problems with social interactions, self control and hyperactivity
• Distractibility, poor concentration
• Poor handwriting
• Has difficulty sitting
• Clumsiness
• Sensitivity to noise
• Has frequent temper, tantrums, outbursts
• Difficulty communicating
• Difficulty following directions

Visual skills needed for life:
• See Clearly
• Move the eyes and look at a target
• Get and keep things clear
• Point the eyes on targets close and far
• Use the eyes as a team
• Make sense of what is seen
• Coordinate the eyes with the hand and body
• Use vision to communicate

Vision Training:
• Guided activities done in a safe, comfortable environment
• Activities are designed to develop specific visual skills
• Training allows for more experiences for learning
• Training includes activities which integrate vision with auditory and visual motor skill development

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