opticians / visual health
Myopia (shortsightedness) is one of the group of refractive visual problems, in other words, those associated with the size and shape of the eye. Shortsighted people have poor sight at a distance and good sight close up.
Symptoms: Frowning or furrowing of the brow or tilting the chin downwards to see better at a distance.
Solution: Graduated glasses or contact lenses. Surgery is advised only for adults with stable myopia.
Hyperopia (longsightedness) is when the eye is smaller than normal.
The great majority of newborn infants are hyperopic, although they cease to be so as they grow. If not many dioptres are involved they can see well at a distance, but close up they may make an extra effort to focus.
Symptoms: Hyperopic people tend to have red eyes, a gritty sensation and itching at the end of the day.
Solution: Glasses and contact lenses.
The cornea of the eye is shaped like a rugby ball, instead of being spherical as it is in a normal eye. The result is a distorted image, especially when seen at a distance.
Symptoms: It is not unusual for astigmatic people to turn their head always to the same side when looking at a distance.
Solution: Glasses and contact lenses.
Amblyopia (lazy eye)
This disorder is usually due to a difference in the eyesight of one eye compared to the other. The brain receives two images but does not fuse them, and it therefore rejects the one from the “bad” eye, which gradually stops working.
Symptoms: Although these are not always present, we may observe that the eyes turn inwards or outwards or do not work together.
Solution: The best option is visual therapy, which involves recovering use of the visual organs with exercises designed to develop the appropriate muscles.
Through this process the patient is trained to be conscious of how to use these muscles properly.
This is a behavioural defect; in other words, it is associated not with the shape of the eye but with its behaviour. People with strabismus normally turn their eyes inwards or outwards.
It is important to be aware that up to the age of six months children do not have total control over their eye movements. If a baby continues to do so after that age, he or she must be examined as soon as possible by an ophthalmologist.
Symptoms: The child can see without any difficulty, and does not usually have symptoms, but the deviation can be detected by parents, paediatricians...
Solution: Surgery and visual therapy.
Accommodation (focusing) disorders
The child has problems in focusing properly on the same object when it is placed at different distances (the eye does not accommodate correctly to the new situation of the element when it changes location).
Symptoms: Lack of concentration by the child on his or her studies, intermittent blurring when reading and rejection of tasks demanding close vision can alert us to this problem. The child also often has other symptoms that fit the following pattern: habitual headache, red, weeping eyes...
Solution: Glasses for close vision.
All us have one side of our body that is dominant, with which we tend to “work” more. That is why we are right-handed or left-handed. The problems arise when the right eye is dominant, for example, and we use our left hand and foot. This is called cross laterality and it can prevent the development of physical skills.
Symptoms: Confusing right and left, inverting letters and numbers, and indecision when choosing the right or left hand for everyday tasks.
Solution: Specific visual therapy for this problem.
That child has difficulty in estimating how far away an object is, based on the degree of difference between the images he or she receives from the two eyes.
Symptoms: Poor handwriting and spelling. Often confuses letters and does not understand new concepts explained to him or her at school. Not much visual memory. The child’s drawings do not tend to be of a level consistent with his or her age.
Solution: It is a difficult problem to diagnose and treat, but it responds quite well to visual therapy.
Oculomotor (eye movement) difficulties
The child finds it difficult to aim at a specific object.
Eye movements are very important because reading is based on them. If children focus on the preceding or following letter instead of the one they want to read, they have to perform a double search task, which means a reduction in reading speed and comprehension.
Symptoms: The child has poor handwriting or spelling, as well as habitually confusing the shapes of letters. He or she cannot understand new ideas introduced in class.
Solution: Appropriate visual therapy, prescribed by a specialist.