When we look at the image of the world around us, it’s easy to forget that vision in two separate eyes leads to two separate images, both of which are integrated by the brain in order to make a single image. That process requires eye coordination between the eyes, the optic nerve, and the brain.
Sometimes, the eyes may be out of sync, which means they aren’t working as well together as they should. This always leads to vision problems. A lazy eye diagnosis is one of the most common examples of uncoordinated eyes, which can be treated using eye exercises, lens corrections, or surgery in rare cases.
Vision Fusion Is The Basis Of Eye Coordination
However, miscoordination between the eyes and the brain can happen in other ways too. Remember that any signs of vision loss or eye strain should be evaluated by a professional optometrist so we can correct the issue as soon as possible. If we feel the eyes aren’t coordinating as they should, we’ll work towards “vision fusion” – the process by which two separate images become one.
Eye Coordination Is A Practiced Skill
We aren’t born with coordinated eyes. Infants can only see a few inches in front of their faces for the first few weeks – all because their eyes and brain are learning to coordinate. Until their eye muscles strengthen, they learn to focus, and the optic nerve and brain learn to fuse the separate images, newborn images are blurry and dreamy rather than perfectly focused and sharp.
Sometimes, a person’s eye muscles don’t strengthen and develop like they should, which diminishes their ability to coordinate eye movements for clear vision. This can be the result of genetics or a defect, lack of eye coordination occasionally occurs as the result of eye trauma or injury to the eyes or brain.
The brain doesn’t want to see two images; it’s too confusing. So, if straining to focus doesn’t work or one eye isn’t working as well as the other, the brain automatically “stops seeing” the image from the weak eye, which causes further lack of eye coordination as the left-out eye becomes increasingly weaker (one of the main causes of the aforementioned lazy eye diagnosis).
If the weak eye is left untreated for too long, we may never be able to fully correct its vision the way we can when we are able to start treatment early on. This is why regular vision appointments for toddlers and young children are every bit (if not more) important than adults’ annual eye exams. Children are amazingly adaptive, so it can seem like they “are able to see just fine” when, in fact, they aren’t seeing fine at all.
Symptoms Of Uncoordinated Eyes
Here are some of the most common symptoms of uncoordinated eyes – or eyes that are not working together as they should:
- Double vision. Until the brain has “cut off” the weaker eye image, people lacking eye coordination will see double because their brain has no way to fuse the two individual eye images into one. Double vision often feels more like blurry vision than clear double vision.
- Headaches. Complaints of headaches are a common phenomenon, which is why an eye exam is often the first tool used to support children who complain about headaches. The aching head is a result of the strain the optic nerve and brain are under trying to focus two images.
- Winking or covering one eye. Children are quick to adapt and may learn that by squinting or covering one eye, they are able to see a single image.
- Skipping lines while reading or writing. Because the lines aren’t coming into focus, it’s hard to keep the eyes following a single line of text on a screen or a book or to distinguish the upper and lower lines when writing on a lined piece of paper.
- Doing poorly in sports. It’s true that many of us were not meant to be sports stars. However, lack of eye coordination can make it look like a child or adult is far less coordinated than s/he actually is – all because s/he simply can’t see the ball or the other players clearly enough to play well.
- Avoiding tasks that require close work. The blurry images and lack of eye coordination make it hard to complete or enjoy tasks that require close work, and close work will lead to quick fatigue.
Any of the above signs are worth mentioning to your pediatrician or optometrist so s/he can provide a comprehensive eye exam and look for other red flags.
Treatments For Better Eye Coordination
If eye coordination is a problem, your optometrist or ophthalmologist will begin exploring the following solutions and treatments.
Caught early enough, and if the problem isn’t too severe, vision therapy may be all that is required. This may involve patching the stronger eye and forcing the weaker eye’s muscles to get stronger. Once the weaker eye has caught up, it may be enough to correct the child’s vision back to normal.
Corrective lenses (glasses/contacts)
Once the weaker eye is as strong as it’s going to get, children may still require a prescription for corrective lenses. There may still be a near- or farsighted vision issue to address.
Surgery for eye coordination
In more rare and severe cases, your optometrist may refer you to an ophthalmologist for eye surgery to correct anatomical issues that are preventing eye coordination and cannot be corrected using vision therapy or lenses.
When You’re Ready To Schedule An Appointment…
Does your family have a history of issues that affect eye coordination? Is a child in your family exhibiting some of the symptoms of uncoordinated eyes? Contact the Atlantic Eye Institute and we’ll schedule an appointment. One of our optometrists will evaluate your eyes and create a plan to get them working on the same team again.