Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Visual function development: behaviors to watch out for in your children

Developmental optometry and ophthalmology

Dr. Lea Hyvarinen is one of the worlds few developmental ophthalmologists.  Usually, if you or your child has a developmental vision problem you will see a developmental optometrist like Dr. Randhawa  who is a member of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD).  Dr. Lea has just commenced a blog on children's vision development, which you can visit here and was a well-received speaker at the COVD annual meeting last weekend.

Dr. Lea Hyvarinen

In a recent post about infants with normal visual development, she provided the following table, which summarizes the development of visual functions that are easy to for parents and teachers to observe.  The table and the related post give an excellent indication of the quality of her new book called "What and how does this child see?" 

Visual information processing

The book covers many of the topics discussed on this blog, including as visual information processing, a topic that North American ophthalmologists tend not to be familiar with.  For example, see this 1996 study from the field of rehabilitation medicine published in the journal NeuroRehabilitation by Raymond et al., where the authors say that patients with potential visual information processing deficits "should be referred to a behavioral or neuro-optometrist" and noted that  "referrals made to an ophthalmologist may be insufficient, as they are primarily concerned with the health of the eye only."  Of course, Dr. Lea is an exception to this and would likely provide excellent assessments of her patient's visual information processing skills.

Visual development behaviors to watch for

Parents can refer to this table when trying to assess their child's visual development.  But understand that trained professionals should be consulted for reliable assessments and diagnoses.  As noted by Dr. Lea, the table "summarizes the main steps of the visual development. These milestones are used in many countries in the follow-up of normal development of visual functions and in detecting symptoms and signs of deviations from the norm."

Age (months)     Behavior
0–1•       turns eyes and head to look at light   sources 
•       horizontal eye tracking, tonic focusing
2–3•       intense eye contact at 6-8 weeks 
•       vertical and circular tracking
•       interested in mobiles
•       interested in lip movements
3–6•       watches own hands 
•       reaches toward, later grasps hanging objects
•       observes toys falling and rolling away
•       shifts fixation across mid-line
•       visual sphere of attention widens gradually
•       very active in visual interaction
7–10•       notices small bread crumbs, touches them 
•       adjusts the grasp to the size of the objects
•       interested in pictures, also stereo images
•       recognizes partially hidden objects
•       recognizes family members by facial features
11–12•       knows places at home 
•       looks through window and recognizes people
•       recognizes pictures, plays hide-and-seek
•       can predict adult’s goals of motor actions
For more information of children's vision, eye care, and children's optometry, please visit www.kidsvision.ca.

Related articles:

Study proves that vision problems - visual information processing deficits -  interfere with learning to read and cause dyslexia

The former First Lady of the United States on her daughter's developmental vision problem and how vision therapy worked for her

Mom of struggling reader speaks out

Vision problems can have drastic effects on brain development and learning

How to choose a children's (pediatric) optometrist

Binocular vision dysfunctions ate my homework 

TED: ideas worth spreading - Dr. Susan Barry on vision therapy and depth perception

Patient story - Five year old girl sees her mom's face for the first time in our Vancouver eye clinic