Binocular vision impairments affect at least 12 out every 100 children.
Having 20/20 vision does not necessarily mean you have perfect vision. 20/20 vision only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance. Other important vision skills, including peripheral awareness or side vision, eye coordination, depth perception, focusing ability and color vision, contribute to your overall visual ability.
Some people can see well at a distance but are unable to bring nearer objects into focus. This condition can be caused by hyperopia (farsightedness) or presbyopia (loss of focusing ability). Others can see items that are close but cannot see those far away. This condition may be caused by myopia (nearsightedness).
A comprehensive eye examination by a doctor of optometry can diagnose what is affecting your ability to see well. In most cases, your optometrist can prescribe glasses, contact lenses or a vision therapy program that will help improve your vision. If the reduced vision is due to an eye disease, you may be prescribed ocular medication or another treatment.
Early detection and treatment is vital.
Consult the Parent's Checklist below and look for early signs of vision impairments such as Amblyopia, Lazy Eye, Strabismus or Double Vision, strabismus (esotropia, esophoria, exotropia, "wandering-eye", "crossed-eyes", wall eyes", alternating esotropia, intermittent exotropia, exophora), double vision, poor visual coordination, convergence insufficiency, accommodation problems (i.e., accommodative esotropia) and more.
A Parent's Checklist
Look for these signs and symptoms
If you check off several items on the following checklist, consider taking your child for a thorough vision examination that includes the testing of the following visual skills:
You observe the following behavior in your child:
- one eye drifts or aims in a different direction than the other (look carefully -- this can be subtle). This is significant even if it only occurs when the child is tired or stressed.
- turns or tilts head while reading or during other visual activities
- head is frequently tilted to one side or one shoulder is noticeably higher
- squinting or closing of one eye
- excessive blinking or squinting
- poor visual/motor coordination skills (often called, "hand-eye coordination")
- problems judging distances while moving in space, frequently bumps into things or drops things
- becomes easily confused when in motion
- frequently loses things
While reading or doing close work your child:
- holds the reading material or object too close
- closes one eye or covers eye with hand
- twists or tilts head toward book or object so as to favor one eye
- uses finger or ruler to read
- frequently loses place and/or skips or repeats lines
- fatigues easily and/or becomes drowsy
- rubs eyes during or after periods of the reading or close work
- reports that words move on page or run together
- has a tendency to knock things over on a desk or table
- exhibits avoidance behaviors
Child demonstrates or reports:
- headaches or eyestrain
- nausea or dizziness
- motion sickness or car sickness
- DOUBLE VISION!
Say no more. If your child reports seeing double, please take your child for a binocular vision evaluation immediately. Please remember that your child would probably not know that double vision is abnormal and it is unlikely that he or she would bring up the subject.
Catch Visual Problems Early!
Early detection of visual problems greatly increases the chances of successful rehabilitation. Children should be examined by an eye doctor during infancy and preschool years to detect potential problems with binocular vision. This is particularly important if any member of the family has had amblyopia or strabismus. Testing of binocular teaming skills should be a part of every child's comprehensive eye examination.
A second opinion is warranted when your eye doctor:
- diagnoses amblyopia or strabismus, but offers only "lazy eye" or eye muscle surgery and/or patching -- no mention is made of non-surgical options, such as Vision Therapy
- recommends surgery only for cosmetic purposes (to make the eye appear straight to others) and does not believe that your child can develop binocular vision
- tells you that it is too late for either surgery and/or patching and that your child can not develop binocular vision.