What is Oculomotor Dysfunction?
Oculomotor Dysfunction is a common vision problem that occurs when there is a developmental delay, trauma to the brain, or disease that affects the central nervous system and interferes with the brain’s ability to coordinate the eyes to move with accuracy and control. This condition can affect reading, balance, depth perception, and most visually related tasks. Oculomotor Dysfunction affects patients of all ages, both children and adults.
It is not a condition that can be outgrown. If left untreated, Oculomotor Dysfunction patients will rely on compensatory techniques such as using a finger as a marker for reading or tilting the head to direct the eyes. It is important to note that many children are misdiagnosed with Dyslexia as Oculomotor Dysfunction and Dyslexia share many of the same symptoms. However, Oculomotor Dysfunction is a result of an anomaly within the vision system.
Eye movements affected
There are six muscles around each eye and these muscles work together with your brain to accurately control your eye movements. If a patient’s oculomotor muscles are impaired, several essential eye functions may be affected including:
- Convergence/Divergence– the ability to move the eyes inward or outward to focus on objects near or far
- Saccades – the ability to jump focus from one object to another
- Smooth Pursuits – the ability to maintain a steady gaze on a moving object
What are the symptoms of Oculomotor Dysfunction?
Those diagnosed with Oculomotor Dysfunction often experience the following signs or symptoms:
- Abnormal postural adaptations to focus the eyes such as moving the head to read
- Difficulty reading and reading comprehension
- Difficulty tracking or following objects
- Eye strain or eye fatigue
- Inability to maintain concentration or attention span
- Inaccurate hand-eye coordination
- Inconsistent work
- Loss of place, repetition, or skipping words and sentences while reading
- Motion sickness
- Poor coordination
- Poor visual memory
- Spatial disorientation
- Trouble discerning depth perception
Oculomotor Dysfunction should be diagnosed and treated by an optometrist who has education and experience in neuro-optometry and vision therapy. A comprehensive eye exam including a binocular vision assessment can help to identify and diagnose Oculomotor Dysfunction as well as any other underlying conditions that may be affecting you or your child’s vision.
Treatment for Oculomotor Dysfunction often includes a form of vision therapy involving specific neuro-optometry activities designed to improve fixation, strengthen your visual muscles, saccadic and pursuit eye movements, as well as improve information processing skills.
Our board-certified optometrists and vision therapists promise a personalized approach with one-on-one treatments under doctor supervision. Treatment may also include lenses, prisms, and special tints to prescription eyewear for symptomatic relief during and after treatment. The length of treatment will vary depending on the complexity of the patient’s condition with periodic follow-up evaluations as necessary.