To see clearly, our eyes change their focus every time we look from one object to another. Most people are unaware that their eyes even have to focus as it appears to occur instantly. However, this adjustment is made by muscles within the eye relaxing and contracting in order for us to see clearly at varying distances. If there is a problem in how easily or quickly our eyes adjust focus that is unrelated to the body’s aging process, this visual problem is often called accommodative dysfunction.
What is Accommodative Dysfunction?
Accommodative dysfunction is a visual problem where the eye has difficulty accommodating, or focusing, properly. Focus occurs by muscles relaxing and contracting within the eye so that you can see clearly objects that are far away or up close.
Our body’s focusing ability is well developed by early childhood and works efficiently until middle-aged adulthood when our lenses within our eyes become less flexible. This is why many adults require reading glasses or bifocals as they get older.
In children, focusing problems can greatly affect a child’s ability to learn. Most vision screenings conducted in schools do not test for focusing disorders. It is important for you and your child to annually schedule comprehensive eye exams. This enables an optometrist to catch early signs of vision problems or disease and offer the appropriate treatment.
Symptoms of Accommodative Dysfunction:
- Eye strain after reading
- Headaches due to eye strain
- Inability to concentrate while reading
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty shifting focus
- Eye fatigue
- Requiring frequent breaks in order to focus
- Squinting or blinking constantly
- Symptoms worsening throughout the day
Signs of Accommodative Dysfunction may be more obvious in the ability to focus up close, difficulty switching focus between near or far objects, eye spasms that prevent focusing, or low ability to maintain focus.
After being examined by an optometrist and being diagnosed with Accommodative Dysfunction, our optometrist will work with you to ensure you receive the best treatment plan for your needs. Often corrective lenses will be required to help your eyes adjust easily. Vision therapy may be recommended to help strengthen your vision. Vision therapy is a personalized one-on-one approach to improve accuracy and flexibility within your vision and is conducted under doctor supervision. Vision therapy patients often report an improvement in attention, concentration, and focusing ability. With the success of treatment, eye strain, visual fatigue, and headaches are eliminated.
Over-the-counter reading glasses are not advised for children as they can often create new problems as your child’s vision develops.
For more information on accommodative dysfunction and treatment options for you, please contact The Optometry Center for Vision Therapy today.