Vision: More Than the Eye Chart

Is your child clumsy, has trouble reading, gets anxious or is generally underperforming in school?

The source of these problems could be one in the same – the visual system.

Vision is one of the four pillars of function in humans. The others are vestibular (balance), somatosensory (physical) and cognitive.

The visual system comes in two modes – focal and ambient.

The focal mode answers the question of “what” about objects being perceived.

The ambient mode is concerned with “where” objects are relative to the viewer and where he/she is located in space.

The ambient mode anticipates what you will see and prepares you for a diverse group of scenarios.

The ambient mode also directs the other senses of the body.

A properly functioning ambient system is important for children.

When it isn’t working to full potential, it can cause learning difficulties and even anxiety.

Eye doctors tend to focus on the focal mode to the neglect of the ambient mode.

As Dr. Rick Graebe, a behavioral optometrist in Versailles, points out, optometry schools emphasize the focal mode only.

That’s why most eye doctors test only for the focal mode of vision – Can you see the eye chart?

Dr. Graebe not only realizes the importance of ambient vision, he tests his patients to be sure that part of the visual system is working optimally.

Signs of an inefficient ambient system include:

  • Eye tracking issues
  • Loss of depth perception
  • Poor balance/coordination
  • Anxiety
  • School struggles

Because 75% of all learning comes through the visual mode, students must have a fully functioning ambient system in order to succeed in school.

Fortunately, everyone is born with the capacity for this mode of function. Problems arise when it hasn’t been developed properly.

A remedy for an underdeveloped ambient system, according to Dr. Graebe, is Vision Therapy, which is a kind of physical therapy for the brain, body and eyes.

During treatment, cognitive, non-academic exercises create new pathways in the brain, which help restore the ambient system.

Treatment also includes the use of prisms and therapeutic lenses.

If your child is struggling in school, the source of the problem may rest with the visual system.

To ensure success for your child, make sure an eye exam goes beyond merely the eye chart.