Is my vision normal?
We take it for granted that we see the same way as everyone else; but do we? How do you know that you or your child is seeing normally? This question can be subdivided into two areas, visual efficiency and visual perception. This article will focus on visual efficiency.
Many people are not using their eyes appropriately, which can lead to reduced efficiency, comprehension or performance. This can negatively affect academic performance, or productivity at work, and cause pain or discomfort.
Understood simply, visual efficiency means the ability to point and focus the eyes at the object of interest, so that we see a clear and single visual image, maintain focus, and move the eyes accurately towards the next point of interest. Sounds straightforward enough, but for many people this is a real challenge and stress to the visual system, especially in today’s world, where we are expected to spend so much time analyzing close objects on our computer screens, in books and (worst of all) on our phones.
Our eye muscles are designed to be in equilibrium for distance viewing. Close work is a challenge to the visual system, and people react to this challenge in different ways. The lucky ones manage to deal with it without any problems; they never require glasses until middle-age, they never have vision-related headaches and can enjoy reading for as long as they wish without fatiguing. You may even know some people like this. Most of us, however, react to visual stress in one way or another. Some develop myopia (nearsightedness). Some avoid extended close work, survive on the minimum, or even drop out of school. Others contend with the stress and suffer headache, eye strain or other symptoms.
How can we measure visual stress?
At Shindler Insight, I perform a battery of tests which probe the efficiency of the visual system. While I’m certainly very interested in determining the best prescription for acute distance vision, I am far more interested in analyzing the strengths and weaknesses at near, since that is where the challenges lie. To converge the eyes accurately has different facets, and one test alone is not sufficient to paint a meaningful picture of the ability to do so. Likewise, the skill to focus on a close target cannot be adequately tested through one test alone. The interpretation of the results takes expert training and experience, in order to accurately diagnose and treat the problem.
Can visual stress be treated?
Treatment will depend on the diagnosis. Often it is found that the full distance prescription is not helpful for close work, and can even add to the stress. In situations like this, bifocal or multifocal prescriptions can be issued to reduce the visual stress, and in some cases is sufficient. In many cases, particularly where there is a weakness in eye convergence, vision therapy is recommended.
So what is vision therapy?
Vision therapy is a process through which you are taught how to use your eyes in an effortless manner, in order to better cope with the daily stress your eyes are subjected to. It’s a process where your visual skills will be broken down so that you can understand each part, learn how to release the stresses, and subsequently apply all the parts effortlessly together. The programs tend to be short, averaging three months or so, with long-lasting results. It must be effortless, since vision is a means to an end; if we are expending effort on our vision, it will come at the expense of efficiency in the very task we need the vision for.
How do I know if my child needs vision therapy?
Gedalya Shindler BSc (Hons) MCOptom is a British trained Optometrist. He works as a Clinical Instructor at the Contact Lens Department at Hadassah College, Jerusalem. His private clinic, Shindler Insight, is situated in Ramat Beit Shemesh where he continues to find inventive solutions for patients who suffer from symptoms curable with vision therapy, patients who have struggled to find wearable contact lenses, and for patients who would like an accurate glasses prescription
If your child’s intelligence exceeds their reading performance, complains of headaches, double vision, dizziness, eye ache, blur (but does not need glasses, or already has), difficulty copying from the board, words moving on the page, blinks too much, or has an eye turn, they should have an assessment. Vision therapy can also help patients who have had a head injury or a stroke, and can even help elite athletes improve their performance!
edalya Shindler BSc (Hons) MCOptom is a British trained Optometrist. He works as a Clinical Instructor at the Contact Lens Department at Hadassah College, Jerusalem. His private clinic, Shindler Insight, is situated in Ramat Beit Shemesh where he continues to find inventive solutions for patients who suffer from symptoms curable with vision therapy, patients who have struggled to find wearable contact lenses, and for patients who would like an accurate glasses prescription
Gedalya can be reached at 02-540-6166 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit his website www.shindlerinsight.com/