I cannot reiterate enough that vision is much more than 20/20. Visual acuity (sharpness of vision) is only one minute aspect of vision. Vision therapy is not intended to make you see more clearly, but rather to train your brain to better communicate with your visual system. If you don’t completely understand what that statement means, do not worry! In order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of what your or your child is going through due to a vision disorder and thus experiencing in vision therapy, then it is very important that you are familiar with certain terms and concepts. The list below is a good place to get started!
· Fixation: maintaining gaze on a single location
· Accommodation: the ability to change your focus from near to far and vice versa.
· Eye tracking: the motion of the eye
o Saccades: rapid movement of the eye between fixation points
o Pursuits: smoothly follow a moving object
· Eye teaming: both eyes working together
o The basis for single vision and depth perception
· Binocular: using both eyes with overlapping fields of view
· Monocular: both eyes are used separately
· Diplopia: double vision (seeing double)
· Vergence: the movement of both eyes at the same time to turn opposite directions in order to have single vision when looking at a point.
o When looking near: eyes need to converge (turn in)
o When looking far, eyes need to diverge (turn out)
o Convergence insufficiency: An eye teaming problem in which the eyes have a strong tendency to drift outward when reading or doing close work
· Strabismus: abnormal alignment of the eyes
o Esotropia: one or both eyes turns inward
o Exotropia: one or both eyes is turned outward
o Hypertropia: one or both eyes turn upward
o Hypotropia: one or both eyes turn downward
· Amblyopia: lazy eye, impaired vision without obvious defect in appearance of eye.
· Suppression: the brain ignoring all or some of the image of one eye in order to subconsciously eliminate the symptoms of disorders of binocular vision
· Vestibular: sense of balance
o Gross motor skills: movement and coordination of the arms, legs, and other large body parts
o Fine motor skills: involved in smaller movements that occur in the wrists, hands, fingers, feet, and toes.
· Visual perceptual: the ability to see and interpret the visual information around us
If any of these definitions sound like you or your child, do not hesitate to try out vision therapy! Treatment of these visual deficits does not only benefit sight, but is paramount to success in so many aspects of daily life. Knowledge of these terms gives you the tools to spot the problem before you or your child falls behind in school or work due to an undiagnosed vision disorder.
-Emily Thompson, Vision Therapist