“I know my child is smart but something is holding her back. We have tried everything to help her. She still doesn’t like to read, homework is a battle, and she works harder than everyone else. I never thought it could be a visual issue because she has always passed her school screenings and has 20/20 vision.”
We hear this over and over again.
The first thing that’s important to know is that good eyesight is not the same thing as a good visual system. Many times over a person can pass a vision screening at school or be told they have 20/20 vision from their eye doctor. But is that enough? Not from what we know and experience every day in vision therapy.
Our visual system is the connection of how the brain processes what is seen through accurate and efficient eye tracking, teaming and focusing. Eyesight is only the ability of the eye to gather light and project it onto the retina. You can think about all the parts of your visual system as house, and remembering you wouldn’t have a sturdy house without a solid foundation.
So what do each of these pieces mean for our visual system?
Remember, just like building a house you have to go about the process in a certain order. There is no need to build a roof unless you have something to support it.
Visual EFFICIENCY: The Foundation
Having a proficient visual system includes eye teaming, tracking and focusing.
Eye Teaming: The ability to accurately point both eyes
Eye Tracking: The ability to move our eyes when following a moving target or read across a printed page
Eye Focusing: The ability to quickly change and hold focus when switching your gaze from one distance to another
Imagine stepping up to the plate during a baseball game without accurate eye teaming or tracking. Or, can you imagine trying to get through pages and pages of reading for a homework assignment or grad school project in which the words go in and out of focus and seem to be jumping around? These are just a couple examples of why it’s important to have a strong foundation for your visual system.
Visual PERCEPTION: The Walls
Once the foundation is laid, the walls can be built. For many people the ability to imagine something is taken for granted because it seems as though it is simple to develop a picture in your mind. Does photographic memory and visualization sound familiar? Having accurate eye movements as you move from word to word is important but if you have a hard time putting pictures together with the words, comprehension becomes a lot harder. Our ability to imagine and manipulate pictures in our mind is the next building block to being a visual learner.
Visual LEARNING: The Roof
Being able to apply visualization tools supported by an efficient visual system takes learning to another level, The Roof! Could you say the alphabet backwards? Some people can and they are probably using a picture of the alphabet in their head to see the order of the letters. Consider being able to picture and visually remember an entire page of notes for a test. If the skills are there to visually remember something how much easier would that be than to have to verbally recite to recall information. Some people are great auditory learners but add visual learning to that and imagine the possibilities.
So, whether it’s sports performance, reading abilities or passing your next test, your eyes have to lead you there. Our vision is more than just passing a simple eye exam. It’s the eye/brain connection. Could there be a visual issue holding you or your son/daughter back from reaching their full potential?