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Vision is much more than 20/20

Vision is so much more than 20/20….

By Tamar Schwartz | Published Friday, February 19, 2016

To Listen: Cut and paste into Google Translate, click on “speaker” icon.

Many people think they understand eye sight, and vision. Until I got my vision disorder diagnosis – over a year and a half after I got sick (and one year after my MAV diagnosis) – I thought I knew what I needed to know. I had had 20/20 vision for much of my life, which I thought was pretty cool since my parents and brother all wore glasses. I had just started wearing low level reading glasses. I now know – two and a half years into vision therapy – that when it comes to vision, it’s a case of not knowing what you don’t know.

Anyone who reads – or listens – to my blog knows it’s really important to me that this changes, that vision becomes understood. Vision is just too important. Your eyes are pretty cool, but it’s how the messages get processed in your brain that’s really amazing. People need to know that vision is about comprehension, it’s about processing all kinds of visual stimuli, about tracking… it’s about your brain processing, integrating everything so you can function.

Being able to focus properly – the term 20/20 acuity that we’ve all heard – is important. No one wants to look at a fuzzy world. Eye disease also matters; having something physically wrong with your eyes is very important info. Whether you have something that can be fixed (like a cataract), or a degenerative disease (such as Macular Degeneration), you need to know.

Having 20/20 eye sight only means that if you look at the something at a distance of 20 feet with one of your eyes, you can see it clearly. It does NOT mean that you can see it clearly with BOTH of your eyes (that’s eye teaming), nor does it mean that you can handle eye gaze switches, meaning switching from 20 to ten, and back again.

Having 20/20 eyesight doesn’t mean you can turn your head, look at something in motion, and not have a problem, such as getting dizzy or off balance. This may have to do with your VOR, which I posted an explanation of in my last piece.

Everything listed below may be due to a functional vision problem:

1) headaches,

2) motion sickness (feeling dizzy and/or nauseas) – for example, on car rides or plane rides,

3) inability to watch a movie in 3D, or see anything that requires depth perception,

4) reading comprehension – if you have to read something multiple times before it makes sense to you,

5) your child takes so long to do homework, or avoids it,

6) have trouble with your balance, and get dizzy doing ordinary household tasks, or have a conversation with someone – particularly if you’re standing up.

This actually doesn’t cover everything, but you get the idea. Vision matters. It matters a great deal.

80 percent of learning is visual, and I don’t think learning stops when you’re out of school. Think about how much of the world is visual, and think about how that info mixes, or gets integrated with other sensory systems, such as taste or smell. If one piece of your system isn’t working properly, your sensory system as a whole isn’t really working properly. This can impact your life in a wide variety of ways.

Neural ophthalmologists and neural optometrist sometimes can correctly diagnose functional vision problems; problems that have to do with the neurological functioning of your eyes. However, the best doctor, in my opinion, to go to for a complete eye exam is a Developmental Optometrist. They have the training not only to understand disease, focal acuity, and neurology, but also the functional elements of vision. Most of them supervise various kinds of treatment, such as vision therapy, work with special glasses, and more. If you have a balance and/or comprehension problem, get yourself checked by a neurologist to see if you have a vestibular problem, but make sure you also get your vision checked – go to a qualified Developmental Optometrist for a complete exam.

To find a qualified developmental optometrist near you, check the College of Developmental Optometrists at www.covd.org.

For a neurologist who can diagnose a vestibular (inner ear) problem, go to the Vestibular Disorders Association site – www.vestibular.org.

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