What is vision? Is it simply the ability to read a letter chart? Most of us would agree that vision is far more complicated, and requires clear eyesight, good co-ordination of the eye muscles that control focus and movement, and the ability to get meaning from what your eyes are seeing.
In children this distinction is particularly critical, as so much learning and development occurs when we are young. There is a clear link between a child's ability to see well and his or her ability to do well at school. At Cassidy Eyecare we consider all these aspects of vision when assessing a child.
A standard children's examination will check vision clarity, test for any prescription (sometimes using techniques that do not require a response from the child), and pay particular attention to how well the two eyes focus and co-ordinate. Many learning-related problems relate to problems of focus and eye teaming, and can often be improved with a program of vision training. If there are additional concerns we may suggest investigating visual processing, which tests how well people can make sense of visual information.
Glasses for Kids
We carry a wide range of children's frames to ensure your child will be happy and comfortable wearing their new glasses. We stock ranges from Oakley, Hello Kitty and Dirty Dog, as well as Ray Ban Junior sunglasses. We recommend Airwear lenses for kids, which are thinner, lighter and safer than standard lenses. Airwear lenses with the UV-blocking Crizal coatings also come with a 1 year warranty against scratching included, which gives great peace of mind for parents.
We are part of the Enable NZ Spectacle Subsidy Scheme, which helps children up to the age of 16 with a Community Services Card with the cost of glasses and eye testing. In most cases we are able to supply a pair of glasses without any gap payment needed.
Vision therapy involves working with the visual system to improve it's performance, and is sometimes described as Behavioural Optometry. This may involve exercises to improve the way the eyes work together, or training to improve the way the brain processes visual information. While vision therapy can be useful in adults, it is particularly useful for children as their visual system is still developing, and thus easier to train. Vision therapy may involve prescription lenses, exercises in real space, computer-based vision training, or a combination.
There are a number of binocular vision skills that can be improved with training. These include:
- Tracking - the ability to follow a ball through the air, or move the eyes along a printed sentence
- Focus Adjustment - the ability to alter focus from distance (eg the classroom board) to near (eg a book)
- Convergence - the ability to find, hold and control the required level of convergence to allow clear and single vision at near
- Fixation - the ability to find and hold focus at a point (ie words on a page)
Visual Information Processing
This is the ability to derive meaning from what is being seen. Good visual information processing is the ability to quickly and accurately process and analyse information coming from the eyes, and store it in visual memory for later recall. For example, when reading and writing at school it is important to be able to quickly and accurately comprehend and remember written material whilst still being able to listen to the teacher. Aspects of Visual Information Processing that can be improved with practice and training include:
- Visual Spatial Skills: The awareness of yourself in space, which becomes a reference for the location of other objects and making judgements of direction. Children with poor visual spatial skills will have poor knowledge of left and right; show reversals of letters, number and words; and have difficulty setting out a page of writing. Many also have poor eye movement skills.
- Visual Analysis Skills: Visual analysis skills are used in learning to remember and recognize letters, numbers and words. Poor visual analysis ability leads to difficulty learning the alphabet, trouble with maths concepts, confusion of similar words, difficulty spelling, and forgetting words seen from one page to the next.
- Visual Motor Skills: Essentially eye-hand co-ordination skills, this relates to the ability to use visual information to direct fine motor movements. Tasks such as catching a ball, tying shoelaces, or holding a pencil to write or draw are dependent on this group of skills.