What is Vision?
Vision is your brain’s interpretation of the world around you. It’s the constantly changing map that your brain builds of space and objects. How does your brain build that map? It takes the information from all of your senses, combines that with memories, and then uses assumptions to fill in the blanks.
Senses-Memory-Assumptions. These may not all be things you think of when you think of vision. Let’s look at them one at a time.
Seeing: sure we all think of seeing as the sense that creates vision. And you’re right! Seeing is by far our dominant visual sense. In a nutshell, seeing involves light being collected by your eyes and sent to your brain. If the light is hitting the eyes in the correct place then you see objects around you clearly. As light moves across the eyes you sense motion. The energy of the light that your eyes collect helps you see color. Slight differences in the way your two eyes see gives you depth or 3D vision.
Hearing: intensity and direction of sounds produced by objects around us help us build the map of where things are and how they’re moving. Sound helps us know where to move our eyes to see what we want to see. Even if a person is blind, the way sounds affect the ear stimulates the visual parts of the brain and creates a map of the surrounding world.
Touch: the feel, texture, temperature of something gives us more clues to what an object is. Similar to hearing, when a blind person feels objects the visual parts of the brain are stimulated.
Smell and Taste: gives clues to safety and brings up memories of the past.
Proprioception: our sense of body position. This is so important to our map because it tells us where WE are in space. It’s our ego sense. All the other senses give us tons of information about everything else but this one tells us about us. Information collected from our muscles and from fluid in our ears help the brain know if we’re upright or upside down. It tells us where our limbs are. It tells us if we’re moving. Movements of our eye muscles helps the brain understand if we’re moving closer or further away from objects around us. Without this sense we would have no frame of reference for everything we are seeing.
Memory plays a huge role in helping us interpret the here and now. As babies, we use trial and error to learn about the world around us until we have formed enough memories to be able to understand what we’re seeing. Memories are actual images that we can conjure up in our mind without the physical objects being in front of us. Imagining, also called visualizing, stimulates some of the same parts of the brain as seeing. Visualization also plays a huge role in reading, math and learning in general. It helps us understand social interactions and emotions. It helps us sense danger.
With our current map of the space from our senses and our memory, we then use assumptions to complete the picture and try to predict what will happen in the future. For example, if we see a ball getting bigger and and we feel our eyes turning in to follow the ball and we remember that when a ball looks like it’s getting bigger, and our eyes feel like they’re moving in, it usually means that the ball is getting closer. We can predict that the ball is coming towards us. Another example, if we see a part of a chair, we use our memory to imagine the rest of the chair so that we can sit in it without falling.
What is the purpose of vision?
The purpose of vision is to guide our movement. We use input from our senses, our ability to visualize from memory, and assumptions to create the whole 3D, constantly changing map of the world around us (and our place in it) and to help us figure out how to move and respond to our changing world.
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision Therapy is an exercise program designed to help a person bring all of the pieces that contribute to vision into harmony. Therapy is tailor made for the individual based on problems that the person is having, goals decided by the person, parent and doctor, and deficiencies uncovered by testing. Vision therapy is not “seeing” therapy. While seeing 20/20 is a great thing it is just the tip of the iceberg. The goals of vision therapy are to help a person move freely and comfortably through life- to be able to use all their senses, their memories and their assumptions to understand the world around them.
Who can benefit from vision therapy?
Have an eye turn or a “lazy” eye? Vision therapy can help train you to use your eyes together and stop the input from your stronger eye from drowning out your weaker eye. (Hint: it’s usually not an eye muscle problem!)
Want to be a better reader? Vision therapy can help make sure you have accurate scanning and focusing eye movements, memory for sight words, directionality to prevent letter reversals, and visualization so you can picture and remember the story.
Still dizzy after a concussion? Vision therapy can help stabilize you and bring your balance back into harmony with your movements.
Want to be better at sports? Professional sport teams employ vision therapy doctors to improve the speed, accuracy, and peripheral vision of even their top athletes.
Want to be more comfortable driving? Vision therapy can help you judge depth, speed and distance.
These are just a few of the many ways that vision therapy can help. Contact us today to set up an appointment or a free phone consult!