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Most people think of 20/20 when they hear the word vision. Most eye doctors spend most of their time helping people get 20/20. You may not realize this but 20/20 is nothing more than average eyesight. It is the ability to see a certain size letter at a certain distance. Some people can see better than 20/20, some cannot see 20/20 even with what are referred to as “corrective lenses.”

The lenses we know as corrective are really not corrective at all. They are actually compensating lenses. They serve to do little more than mask an outward symptom – the inability to see clearly at some distance. These compensating lenses ignore any underlying reasons for the symptom they cover up.

There is much more to vision than just seeing clearly. That is why I avoid the word vision and use visual process when communicating with people. The visual process is a dynamic process that occurs in the brain, not in the eye. The retina (the inner back surface of the eye, which processes light) is in fact part of the brain. The visual process develops, and continues to do so throughout our lives. The primary purpose of the visual process is to derive meaning in order to direct action. The visual process is learned and therefore trainable at any age. People can also experience visual difficulties at any age. Behavioral optometrists are trained to analyze, diagnose and treat every type of functional visual problem.

So there should be much more to an eye exam that just trying to see smaller letters across the room. Behavioral optometrists evaluate much more than that. We evaluate the ability to smoothly and accurately track a moving target and how efficiently a person is able to shift their eyes from one target to another.

Resource: Steve Gallop, O.D., F.C.O.V.D.

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