The main problem with binocular vision problems and strabismus is that it forces you to make a choice between health and education. I'm pretty masochist so I chose for (some kind of) education at whatever cost. Basically, the current eye care system demands one to suffer through education with poor visual skills, requiring tremendous amounts of energy and stamina, and on the side out-study ophthalmologists after you discovered they haven't told you the whole truth by saying surgery is the only option.
Another nasty thing to consider is that poor vision screening methods used by most mainstream ophthalmologists CREATE the binocular issues in the first place. Hyperopia or farsightedness will not be detected using a Snellen eye chart at a distance of 10 meters. Because, guess what, farsighted people have no problem checking things out at long distance. The problem occurs at close distances where most learning and work happens in modern society. Not detecting and consequently not prescribing glasses for hyperopia puts binocular stress on the visual system often causing accommodative strabismus or it's less visible form called convergence insufficiency.
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This is a HUGE issue. This deprives a person of normal visual brain development and opportunities later in life. I have lived through this and I had theorized that this must be having great consequences for tons of people. So when I read Dr. Boulet's paper on 'Visual Impediments to Learning' and the immense impact poor detection of hyperopia has in terms of lowered socio economic success and heightened criminality and mental illness among those people, it was a very emotional experience. On the Vision Help blog Dr. Boulet formulated an equally poignant comment:
This (the proper detection and treatment of binocular vision issues) is not simply a matter of best practice, but is truly the balance between social equality and the maintenance of suppression of people and populations. The lack of initiative in this area is nothing less than another implicit form of Jim Crow. Disallowing children to participate fully in democracy by the vehicle of education is an unconscionable abuse of basic human rights and fully incompatible with fiscal conservatism (timely treatment would make for lowered tutoring costs, lowered health care costs, lowered social security costs and most importantly lowered opportunity costs for the person losing the chance to be included and contribute to society).
I hope you will read this 'must read' paper which only counts nine pages. If considered by policy makers, doctors and educators proper detection and treatment of hyperopia and binocular vision issues can make a tremendous difference in peoples lives. A link to a pdf version of the paper can be found here.
Another great study by Patrick Quaid showing the high corelation between uncorrected hyperopia and binocular vision issues and how these affect acadmic performance is this one. "Association between reading speed, cycloplegic refractive error, and oculomotor function in reading disabled children versus controls"
Related articles on this blog:
- Book Review: Suddenly Successful: How Behavioral Optometry Helps You Overcome Learning, Health and Behavioral Problems