It is suggested that approximately 80% of what a child learns in school relies upon the visual system. As we grow older into adulthood that figure drops slightly, but our visual skills always remain a significant factor in our learning, especially in regards to reading. At the SCDC we find that visual skills are often one of the most overlooked skills that can create some of the most significant widespread academic problems for children and adults. This is not referring to how clearly the eye sees (ie. there may be 20/20 vision), but rather how the eye muscles work and how the brain processes visual information. Visual skills are fundamental to learning. If we see issues with several areas of visual processing either on the IQ test or on reading tasks, we will then assess to see whether there are any higher level visual processing deficits at the level of the visual pathways. If deficits are noted at this level then we will refer to our orthoptist to determine whether there are any functional issues within the eye or with the eye muscles.
Visual assessment may include the following:
Functional visual problems:
- Eye teaming (binocularity, fusion & stereopsis)
- Fine eye movements (saccades & tracking)
Higher level visual perception:
- Visual discrimination
- Visual memory (complex & sequential)
- Visual spatial skills
- Form constancy
- Visual closure
Visual orthoptic therapy:
Orthoptic visual training is conducted when someone is assessed as either having a functional eye issue or an issue with higher level visual processing. Visual issues with acuity such as far-sightedness, long sightedness or astigmatism can be treated with appropriate lenses.
Functional eye problems including issues with eye teaming (binocularity, fusion or stereopsis), fine eye movements (e.g. tracking), accommodation or convergence, will all require an individualised visual training program. This program involves weekly training with our Orthoptist as well as exercises to be conducted during the week, typically on a daily basis to see the best results.
Higher level visual processing issues such as problems with spatial orientation, visual memory (e.g. learning sight words), figure-ground, visual discrimination or the visual side of visual-motor integration, can all be trained through a different type of visual training program concentrating on improving visual skills through processes of neuroplasticity. Often when children have basic functional visual issues these issues can create higher level processing weaknesses due to disruptions in brain development from limitations in the visual information presented to the brain. If both higher level and functional visual issues are present, the functional issues will be treated first in order to correct the information presented to the brain. In some cases the higher level issues will automatically resolve, however in others the processing may need a boost before it is normalised.
The average patient after a course of visual training (approximately 1-2 terms) will be able to normalise functional and processing skills.
NOTE: At our centre we do NOT use coloured lenses as we only use scientifically proven strategies to improve functional and processing issues.