Put an Eye Exam on Your Back-to-School To-Do List

VISION THERAPY AND ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY

The eye is amazing. Did you know more than 1.9 million fibers come from the eye into the brain? Each of those fibers creates its own pathway to the brain and has its own distinct function. So when someone has a stroke or other acquired brain injury (ABI), vision is often affected.  ABIs include concussions suffered in severe sports-related hits or a car accident, as well as cerebral or vascular strokes. An ABI can affect both neurological pathways in the eye, the focal or parvocellular pathway, which is....

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SYNTONICS: CREATING BALANCE FOR THE EYES

Syntonics, or optometric phototherapy, is a form of light therapy used to treat a variety of vision problems. It is available at Family Eyecare Associates to help patients with a variety of vision problems, such as strabismus (eye turns), amblyopia (lazy eye), focusing and convergence problems and learning disorders. It has also been shown to be very effective for people who suffer from migraines.

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WHAT IS BEHAVIORAL OPTOMETRY?

Behavioral optometry starts with the concept that vision is learned. When we’re born, we don’t know how to use our arms, legs and hands. We also don’t know how to use our eyes. We have to learn how to integrate them with the rest of our body. The brain must process what the eyes are seeing, and then it has to integrate that information with the other senses. From a behav- ioral standpoint, seeing requires a more holistic approach, getting all the senses to work together.

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PUT AN EYE EXAM ON YOUR BACK-TO-SCHOOL TO-DO LIST

The American Optometric Association recommends preschool children receive a complete vision exam at the ages of 6 months, 3 years and 5 years. It is particularly important a child have a complete evaluation in the summer prior to entry into kindergarten. Kentucky was the first state to make a law that says you have to have an exam by a optometrist or ophthalmologist the first time you enter Kentucky public schools. The main thing is to make sure children are seeing the black/ whiteboard. About 85 percent of what your child will learn in class will be taught through visual systems, so you want to be sure his or her eyes are in prime condition.


While you may expect your eye doctor to have your child read letters off a Snellen eye chart, at Family Eyecare Associates, there is much more to an eye exam than that. One factor the doctor will look at is how well your child’s eyes work together. The eyes need to aim, move and work in coordination. Some children learn to do this properly while others do not. Weaknesses in binocular (two- eyed) vision and eye-teaming skills can cause numerous learning difficulties. A major eye problem in children is amblyopia or lazy eye. With amblyopia, the brain has learned to prefer one eye over the other. If one eye sees clearly and the other sees a blur, the brain will suppress the eye with the blur. The brain figures out the world makes more sense if it doesn’t pay too much attention to the weaker eye. To a child, this seems normal;

he doesn’t know he isn’t seeing properly. Unknowingly suppressing the weak eye keeps it from reaching its potential – and the child, too. In early childhood, amblyopia is not too problematic, but when the child goes to school, it makes learning more difficult. When the two eyes don’t work together, the child can’t make the step up to higher-level activities. Being able to properly use both eyes will help children as they transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” A comprehensive eye exam will uncover the problem and give the eye doctor options to suggest for treatment. These options include eyeglasses, eye drops or a patch.


Prepare your child for what to expect at the doctor’s office. Generally, eye exams don’t hurt and there are no shots. The optometrist will shine a light in the child’s eyes and the instruments may be unfamiliar, but there isn’t anything to be afraid of. Let your child know the eye exam is going to help him see better and do better in school. Vision is without question our lead sense. It is the primary input for learning throughout our whole lives. Because vision is learned, it can also be relearned. Children need to get off to a good start so they can be lifelong learners. They need to learn good focusing and pointing skills. Get your child’s eyes examined early so she’ll have a solid, balanced foundation for vision and learning.


DR. RICK GRAEBE

Dr. Graebe received both his B.S degree in Visual Science and Doctorate of Optometry from Indiana University. He is a Behavioral Optometrist and learning expert. He has been in private practice here in the Bluegrass area for the past 32 years.

more articles by dr rick graebe