March 2, 2015

Have you ever had your eyes dilated?  Were you exhausted after trying to focus?  Imagine if you had to work that hard every day to see.  Vision is one of the most overlooked areas of development.  Being able to see (eyesight) is different than vision.  Eyesight is something we are born with.  Eyesight allows us to see something, from a certain distance, for a short amount of time. Vision is something that is developed with our motor and cognitive skills.  Vision provides us with the ability to understand what we see, hang on to that information, and use that information at a later time.   Vision is a learned skill.

How does vision develop?

At birth, babies don't see clearly beyond their finger.  If you touch their finger they will grasp it.  Eventually, once they grasp it, they will begin to look at that finger.  In the beginning, your system of touch helps to train the visual system.

Later the child can locate an object with their eyes, reach for it, and pick it up.  At this point the visual system is directing actions.

At 6 months, the child begins to explore toys and objects by turning them in all directions.  This allows the child to view the toys/objects from different angles, helping to develop perception.  The eyes and brain are working together.

At 12 Months, a child can view a toy from any angle and know what that toy is.  This allows for the child to associate a word for that toy.  At this point, language develops and is directed by the visual system.  


images-29What are some factors that can hinder development of vision?
  • Torticollis - unresolved or prolonged
  • Illnesses
  • Moving too much or not moving at all
  • Differences in tone
  • Lack of tolerance to various positions - on back, tummy, laying down, sitting up
  • Crawling - not at all or for a limited amount of time


Warning signs of vision deficits:
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Excessive rubbing of eyes
  • Eyes are not aligned
  • Head too close while coloring, reading, writing
  • Tilting head
  • Shows little interest in books or ball play
  • Uncoordinated or clumsy
  • Doesn't pay attention to where he/she is going
images-30So what should you do if you have concerns about your child's vision?

Seek out an evaluation from an optometrist that specializes in functional vision in children.  These optometrists have specialized training in working with children with vision deficits.  Specialized equipment and tools are used to check the health and acuity of the eyes, and also the function of the eyes.  Remember, vision is a learned skill.  There are techniques and treatment options to help develop this skill for your child.  

For more information on related learning vision problems check out the following websites:

P.A.V.E - Parents Active for Vision Education


C.O.V.D - College of Optometrists in Vision Development


O.E.P - Optometric Extension Program Foundation


I encourage everyone to have their child's eyes examined by a professional.  Often, vision disturbances aren't identified until a child is in Kindergarten.  With early identification, it is possible to eliminate some of the difficulties that can result from a visual deficit.  

185 S. Marley Rd. New Lenox, IL 60451