Treating Vision Problems in Individuals with Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common developmental disorder—it’s estimated that 1 in 59 children in the United States was diagnosed with ASD in 2018. The disorder encompasses a range of social, behavioral, and communication deficits, including problems with sensory integration.

Children and adults with ASD are more likely to experience vision problems that impact sustained eye contact, visual attention, posture and balance, and much more. Learn about the common vision problems associated with autism and how vision therapy can improve the quality of life for people on the spectrum.

Common Vision Conditions
Not every child or adult with autism will have vision issues, but the following conditions are common in those who do.

Difficulty Tracking Objects
Individuals with autism may have difficulty coordinating their central and peripheral vision, causing them to scan or look off to the side while tracking objects. They may struggle to track fast-moving objects and look beyond or through objects. People with autism are more prone to eye movement disorders like strabismus or amblyopia (“lazy eye”), which interfere with tracking ability.

Visually Defensive Behavior
Some children and adults with autism purposely avoid visual input—for example, they might resist looking at people around them. Visual defensiveness compromises one’s ability to process reactions to visual stimuli.

Hypersensitive Vision
Individuals may be sensitive to sunlight, fluorescent light, and incandescent light.

Problems with Balance and Posture
Children with autism are especially susceptible to Visual Midline Shift Syndrome, which describes balance and posture issues resulting from interrupted spatial visual processes. The lack of spatial visual awareness encourages children to shift their weight forward or place more weight on their toes while walking, causing them to trip or fall frequently.

Solutions for Vision Problems Associated with Autism
With the help of certified developmental optometrists, children and adults with autism can refine their visual skills by retraining the brain. While vision therapy is in no way a cure for ASD, improving hand-eye coordination, depth perception, motor skills, and eye contact can greatly improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and those who support them.

Yoke Prisms
Yoke prisms can realign an individual’s visual midline, improving their perception of visual space. Greater spatial awareness leads to better balance and posture and can curb a child’s tendency to toe-walk or prefer walking over running.

Vision Therapy Activities
Certified developmental optometrists can hold in-office or at-home sessions to help patients organize visual space, gain more control of their central vision and eye coordination, and improve visual information processing.

Schedule a Consultation with OCVT Today
We help children and adults with autism make lasting changes by focusing on their individual needs and using the latest treatment methods. Our certified developmental optometrists help patients find new ways to perform daily tasks and visually communicate with others, and we’re prepared to provide ongoing care to guide individuals through new and unanticipated challenges. Schedule a complimentary consultation today to learn how our vision therapy services will make a difference for children and adults with ASD.

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