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Eight Visual Skills

Following are definitions of Eight Visual Skills

Adapted from “A Closer Look at Reading and Vision” from the American Optometric Association.

Accommodation is the ability to adjust the focus of the eyes as the distance from the object changes. Children frequently utilize this vision skill in the classroom as they shift their attention (and focus) between book and chalkboard.

*Binocular Fusion
Binocular fusion refers to the brain’s ability to gather information received from each eye separately and form a single, unified image. A child’s eyes must be precisely physically aligned or double vision may result. If that occurs, the brain often subconsciously suppresses or inhibits the vision in one eye to avoid confusion. The suppressed eye may then develop poorer visual acuity (amblyopia or lazy eye).

Convergence is the ability to turn both eyes toward each other to look at a close object. This vision skill is essential to success in school and to life skills in general.

*Field of Vision
Field of vision is the wide area over which vision is possible. It is important that a child be aware of objects in the periphery (left and right sides and up and down) as well as in the center of the field of vision.

*Form Perception
Form perception is the ability to organize and recognize visual images as specific shapes. The shapes the child encounters are remembered, defined and recalled when development of reading skills begins.

Stereopsis is a function of proper binocular fusion as it allows a critical judgement of the relative distance between two objects. If an optometric examination reveals poor stereopsis, it is an indication of incomplete binocular fusion.

*Visual Acuity
Visual acuity is the ability to see objects clearly. A child’s visual acuity is sometimes measured in a school vision screening. The typical school eye chart is designed to be seen at 20 feet and measures how well or poorly the child sees at that distance. If a problem is discovered in the screening, the child should be referred for a comprehensive optometric examination. Other visual problems may not be detected during a school screening, which is why children should have regular professional vision care.

*Visual Fixation
Fixation is the skill utilized to accurately aim the eyes. Direct fixation is the ability to focus on a stationary object, or accurately read a line of print; while pursuit fixation is the ability to follow a moving object with the eyes. These complex operations require split second timing for the brain to process the information received and to track the path of the moving object.