Michael Cole, OD
Child and Family Eye Care Center

Our clinic specializes in the treatment of pediatrics and binocular vision disorders. Binocular vision refers to the system which allows our two eyes to be used in tandem, resulting in a single, enhanced image. The final product of binocular vision is a view of the world that is in many ways superior to a single copy of the scene being sampled.

For instance, the imperfect pictures captured by each individual eye are sent independently to the brain. The higher order processing done by the brain combines the best parts of the two separate images to form a single resultant image with higher resolution and clarity than either of the inputs. In this way, redundancy allows for clearer vision than would otherwise be possible with a single input.

Even more meaningful than enhanced clarity is the possibility of stereoscopic vision, which means that we can see the world in three dimensions. For this to be possible, both of our eyes must make a copy of an image from a slightly different perspective. For example, look at an object roughly two feet in front of you. Cover one eye, then  the other. Notice that although both eyes are pointed directly at the same object, their view of said object is slightly different. The visual centers in the brain use these varied perspectives to generate depth perception in our environment. Although there are monocular cues to depth (think perspective paintings), to truly see in three dimensions, both eyes must be utilized in tandem.

Binocular vision allows us many advantages, but can also cause many problems if this system is not working as. If both eyes are working independently but cannot synchronize their movements, the result is double vision. Double vision is a debilitating symptom that makes it almost impossible to complete even the simplest tasks. Thankfully, double vision is rare and in most instances the brain will switch
off one eye to avoid double vision at all costs. This suppression of one eye is also not a good outcome and is an active process that requires
constant activity to ignore the incoming stream of information from the eye.

More commonly, poor functioning binocularsystems can operate as expected only whena specific set of circumstances occurs. For example, one may be able to achieve binocular vision when not tired, hungry, upset, bored, stressed, or distracted. One may also require the visual target to be not too close, not too far, not too small, not too bright, not too complicated, or not too confusing. When the right conditions are not met, we experience symptoms such as fluctuating blurriness, losing our place when reading, images overlapping intermittently, and difficulty making quick, accurate eye movements. You can imagine how a child in this situation may struggle in school.

For most people, seeing “20/20” is the extent to which vision is measured, but consider the test itself: One eye is covered while the other reads letters on a chart across the room. This is a monocular test, meaning that only one eye is tested at a time. If we were monocular organisms, perhaps this test would suffice. However, there is so much more involved in our complicated binocular visual systems that we need to spend time more fully investigating our visual function.

We are committed to spending the necessary time with each patient to ensure the most comprehensive vision evaluation. Please contact our office to schedule your appointment today.