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"Eyes don’t tell people what to see, people tell eyes what to look for."

The phrase above was quoted by Lawrence MacDonald, OD.

Dr. MacDonald summed up one of the most important concepts in vision in those words.

Too often both the public and eye doctors think of the eye as being like a camera and that we are passive observers of whatever comes in our eyes. However, vision is a learned, active process, which is why it can be taught and improved upon.

We have to learn to inhibit “visual noise”, and interpret, understand, and integrate what we do feed forward from the eyes to the brain for processing.

Visual processing begins in the eye.

The retina (the sensory lining of the eye with the light receptors) is developed as an outpouching of brain tissue. There are actually neural fibers running from the brain to the eye, as well as from the eye to the brain. It is thought that these are involved in suppressing information coming upstream to the brain. If we had to consciously process all of the information that came into our eyes, we would indeed just have a buzzing booming confusion in our heads. A large part of vision processing is suppressing information that is not relevant or that is not consistent with what we “know” about the world.

Visual processing takes up about one half to one third of our brains.

It involves not just seeing “20/20” detail vision, but processing contrast; brightness; contour; color; object perception; depth perception; the ocular-motor skills involved in eye movements and coordinating the two eyes; integrating eye movements with vestibular input, head and body movement; focusing; spatial perception (e. g., keeping the floor level); peripheral vision awareness; motion processing; visual attention and figure ground perception; and visual cognition (i.e. visual memory and visual thinking skills).

The eye is not a camera.

And there is nobody at home looking at the pictures. The fun part of developmental and rehabilitation optometry is getting to sleuth out which portions (if any) of the visual system performance are causing the functional deficits that are seen in the classroom, work, sports and general activities of daily living.

For more information about visual processing and how to improve contact our office today!

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