Two concerns that are often mentioned by parents are:
“My child will not wear their glasses,” and “We have always gone to the eye doctor, but they said everything was ok.”
In the past, our blogs have talked about the difference between eyesight and functional vision. It is important to differentiate this. Eyesight is your ability to see objects clearly and defines what your visual acuity measures. Visual acuity is a measurement of what size letter you can see at the standard distance of 20 feet. Normal visual acuity is 20/20.
Functional vision encompasses more than just eyesight. It’s how you use your entire visual system — the eyes, the brain, and the visual pathways — to work together to help you interact with your environment. Functional vision is composed of visual skills such as eye movement, eye tracking and eye focusing, and is an active process. It’s how you use your vision to catch a ball, read a book, or ride a bike, drive a car, etc.
Because functional vision includes more than just your visual acuity, you can actually have 20/20 eyesight and still have a functional vision problem. This is where symptoms and behaviors are very important to the diagnosis. This is also why a normal comprehensive eye exam may miss the diagnosis of a functional vision problem.
If your child is resisting wearing his or her glasses, it may be the best prescription for visual acuity, but not visual function. Alternatively, if your child has 20/20 acuity, but still struggling in school, it may be a visual functional problem. Vision therapy can work with the glasses and in some case, or be used to eliminate or lessen the power of the glasses. Our best advice is to talk with your child then schedule a functional vision evaluation to put the pieces together.