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Podcast Episode #12: Betsy Yaros on Vision Therapy and Developing 3D Vision

Welcome to The Bright Eyes Podcast: Advice for Healthy Vision for All Ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford & Dr. Beth Knighton, residency-trained optometrist that provide eye exams for glasses and contacts, and specialty services including vision therapy, myopia control, orthokeratology, and sports vision training. Their mission to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional, and individualized eye care.

In this episode, Dr. Nate talks with Betsy Yaros about vision therapy and discovering 3D vision.

You can listen in the player below or read the transcript. The show is available via Stitcher, Google Play, iTunes, and the webplayer below. You can find all previous episodes here. If you have any questions or suggestions for future episodes, please email office@BrightEyesTampa.com.


Related:

Podcast episode about how vision therapy with therapist Edna Moore

Betsy and Dr. Nate in the news:

 

The Full transcript:

Intro: [00:00:02] Hello. Welcome to the bright eyes podcast advice for healthy vision for all ages your house. Our Dr. Nate bonilla Warford and Dr. Beth Knighton two optometrists who really see eye to eye. They can help you get perspective of the latest visual scientific evidence for improving your vision and helping you keep your eye on the ball. We have real facts and acqui is humor without making spectacles of ourselves. And don’t worry the jokes don’t get any cornea than this we promise.

Dr. Nate: [00:00:41] Hi. it’s Dr. Nate and this is the bright eyes podcast. This episode is a little bit different. Instead of sitting down at my desk and having a conversation either with Dr. Knighton or a different doctor or one of our vision therapists I had a conversation with Betsy one of our vision therapy patients and the conversation starts in the vision therapy room and then went out into the parking lot and then we went to the waiting room to finish up the conversation. And the reason why we walked around will be apparent when you listen to the episode. I really like the way Betsy explains her experiences developing her vision as a vision therapy patient specifically her appreciation of depth perception and what it brings. So I really hope you enjoy this episode. Thanks.

Dr. Nate: [00:01:37] So Betsy we’re here in the vision therapy room at Brighteyes kids and this is where we were when you first observed 3D vision. Do you remember that.

Betsy: [00:01:51] I did. It was a great day. Yeah we were just playing the Vivid Vision. Yeah it was after we played the spaceship going through the rings and I just remembered taking off the glasses or taking off the goggles and seeing everything pop out and then I also remember you going to grab the goggles in your hands just you know they it was scary. Your hands are just coming out of the goggles and I can also just see all the details on your hands and everything coming at me.

Dr. Nate: [00:02:32] What I remember from that moment was you looking at your own hands and you were trying to describe what you were noticing but you really didn’t have words to describe it. So the word that you used while you’re looking at your hands was that they were big.

Betsy: [00:02:57] Everyone looked like they had monster hands at that point. Me included. So that’s what happened.

Dr. Nate: [00:03:05] Now that was a very big big moment. But it didn’t happen all at once tell tell the listeners maybe a little bit about your back story visually like when you were a kid and then some of the things that you had done up until that point to get there.

Betsy: [00:03:25] Yes. As a kid I was my eyes used to flip back and forth a lot so I never had the depths. So I was used to walking around with you know my vision shifting a lot and I was just like when I was walking down the street I would walk into a pole because you know my other eye is looking out not seeing the pole where I’d walk into a wall or I open the fridge door in my face. Stuff like that.

Betsy: [00:03:55] So that’s kind of how it was as a kid and then as I started doing therapy I just started having more control over my eyes and I started having more like maybe really quick instances of seeing 3D but it wasn’t till that day where it really happened and it stayed. So it was just really me.

Dr. Nate: [00:04:19] And so one of the things that we used to do when when we were first trying to develop your sense of depth perception and 3-D vision was not only to do activities here with the virtual reality and the Brock String and some of the other vision therapy activities but we would go outside. So you want to take a field trip you want to go outside.

Betsy: [00:04:40] Yeah. Sounds good.

Dr. Nate: [00:04:41] So yeah this is exactly what we would do. The reason why we would do this is because outside is full of detail and things are very very far away. So we would come out here and so now we’re literally in the parking lot. And so one of the things that we used to do would be to walk through the parked cars and there’s a lot of space in between the cars. But for you it was sort of like a different a different experience when you were seeing 3-D.

Betsy: [00:05:16] Yeah yeah at first it didn’t all come together so like why are we outside. Are we doing this. You know you’ve had me like you’re saying that I didn’t do a great job of explaining it was just like nothing was clicking. And then you’d asked me to go look at a building near and far and I wasn’t seeing it but then I wasn’t sure if it the same day but I remember we just told me to go walk down the sidewalk here.

Betsy: [00:05:45] Yeah I just remember walking down the sidewalk and all of a sudden I freaked out and flinched because this tree here just popped out at me and it looked like it was attacking me. So it was just like an amazing experience. And then I just started looking around and when you see 3-D it’s like you have you know if you’re doing HDR photography you have double exposures so you can see like, Then I just noticed I could see all the details and leaves and grass everything with popping now and when I looked up at the sky the trees actually looked like Dr. Seuss trees they had the little fluff ball softballs and then.

Dr. Nate: [00:06:28] So how did trees look before that?

Betsy: [00:06:31] Flat green like construction paper sheets of construction paper that or maybe have different tones in them. It’s all flat. But then when you see in 3D you can actually see like for example on this leaf here you can see the wax coat on the leaf and just all the detail within the leaf and then each one each leaf is on a different plane. So it just becomes a very complex object to look at really incredible. So I remember even after the appointment I was like oh I’m going walk around walkaround I was just staring at everything like piles of dirt you know on the ground. Anything was just like incredible. From that point forward.

Dr. Nate: [00:07:14] And you were so kind of excited by that that you actually told the tree story in your blog which you did you have and you had some other some other stories you talked about.

Dr. Nate: [00:07:27] You said one of the things that you discovered that there was like a part of your car that you hadn’t noticed before.

Betsy: [00:07:34] Oh yeah I can remember now like . Yeah they were like so i used to drive a Jeep, recently got a different car but there were other compartments in my car that I didn’t actually see because the other thing that happens you don’t see 3-D is everything. You know it’s a flat surface so you just assume that thing over there it’s flat. But then when I got in what is this . And then I also notice my dashboard was really dusty 3-D right. Really. Wow. It’s really like oh my gosh!

Dr. Nate: [00:08:09] That’s interesting. That’s the type of thing that when you’re in the exam room as a doctor and you’re doing the tests and you’re quantifying things and you’re trying to extrapolate and make predictions you don’t think about that sort of real world experience of being able to see to see the dust or see the compartments in your car. One of the things that happened that I that really struck home to me which I which I really liked and I and I tell the story sometimes is I think I had been to a concert the night before and I got home like super late. And you know we had we had done activities and you said something like You know you said that you were tired but now that I’m seeing in 3-D I can really see that you’re tired. Yeah which I thought was actually great because I don’t think many people think a lot about or talk about the interpersonal aspects of having depth perception and 3-D vision.

Dr. Nate: [00:09:15] The social cues that that people get when they interact non-verbal communication do you have any thoughts or anything you want to say about about that.

Betsy: [00:09:27] Oh yeah it’s definitely totally different. So like I experienced my first break up in 3D and you know I really just broke up and it’s been like a very like process where it’s like they say something and I get the message you know I can get the message and I process it later. But when you’re actually 3D in this space I can actually Ill just use an example of the last breakup I can really see the emotion in their face and what they were saying and I could just process it was much more intense. Actually it was a very intense experience because you can when you’re seeing 3-D the wrinkles in someone’s forehead relates to their actual emotion and their expression. And it’s people are more animated. Like think about watching like maybe 2D cartoon an old Roadrunner cartoon versus like current Pixar film. You really see the expressions and the characters so that was how it was when it was being broken up with I could really see it and it was just very intense and I processed everything much more quickly. So it’s it’s really interesting. seeing 3D.

Dr. Nate: [00:10:46] That’s a wonderful observation that you’re not going to read in textbooks maybe at most a single sentence but certainly not not somebody who’s who’s experienced the difference you know with and without being able to talk to somebody and experience that that kind of emotional situation. With the benefit of depth perception. So I think that that’s that’s really great.

Dr. Nate: [00:11:16] Let’s head back into the office because I hear a little thunder which its Florida – its the lightning capital of the world so that’s not that’s not unusual. So for somebody who you know maybe has visual problems they might have strabismus or exotropia or Esotropia. I understand that you know you get e-mails from from people in that sort of situation. So what types of things do they ask you and what kind of things do you tell them.

Betsy: [00:11:47] Well I get a lot of e-mails from concerned parents who they’ve come across my blog. And since you know they had you know the child was born prematurely like I was and they might be having other developmental issues such as speech delay other things which are similar to what I had. And they’re not sure what to do. So all they want to do is help their child. So I think they’re a little bit in panic mode. Cause thier child isnt meeting their milestones. So I just try to provide comfort for them and explain. You know I went through. I’ve been through speech therapy auditory processing. And then lastly this vision therapy. And each time I’ve been able to be more connected with the world. So with this last you know with vision therapy now I’m really I’m actually like feel like I’m in the world you know in space and really interacting with people and able to interact with people. So I just you know when I get these e-mails from parents I tell them you know maybe just wait a little bit. I know the doctors wanting to perform eye surgery. I had two eye surgeries the first one was successful and I’m crossing my eyes. But the second one wasn’t. But you know vision therapy works.

Betsy: [00:13:09] And it worked on me as an adult so I can only imagine what it can do for your child. And the other thing too is by taking the initiative and getting the child into therapy at an early age it helps them so much tremendously across thier life because it’s like me as a child growing up. I was picked on. I didn’t really have very many friends. And I had a lot of difficulty going through life basically until I was finally able to have these different kinds of therapies. So as a parent you know if you take this initiative get them into therapy and get them started on this path it’s only going to positively impact your child long term. So that’s why I try to encourage them you know to do that.

Dr. Nate: [00:13:59] And what other ways do you think that doing vision therapy as an adult rather than as an elementary school kid. What are the ways has it changed your life.

Betsy: [00:14:11] Well for me it’s just it’s made me appreciate so many things like I’m just very appreciative of the opportunity to do that. And it’s really opened a lot of doors for me. It’s like as a child I wanted to be a dentist and I couldn’t do that and the doctor basically said there’s no real career path you can take there. So I stayed photography’s so now that I have these abilities to see and I can read textbooks and I can interact with people.

Betsy: [00:14:41] Now I can I mean I want to go be an optometrist too so I’m just really excited that I’m able to pursue any career path not ant career path this career path want to be an astronaut you can be an astronaut princess. That’s right.

Dr. Nate: [00:15:01] But you know, reaching reaching potential and doing what people want to do and feeling like they have those opportunities is is really important. You know our mission statement at Bright Eyes is all about empowering patients through vision care to help them do whatever they they want to do. And we do that in all kinds of different ways. We do it with contact lenses we do it with glasses we do it with myopia control. One of the greatest ways that’s the most exciting and most rewarding for for all of us is with vision therapy because people really do set different and larger goals for themselves after they sort of see what’s what’s possible. And the fact that you’ve been able to go through that is you know is great. It’s it’s really really wonderful.

Betsy: [00:15:57] I’m really excited about my future. So it’s it’s just really. And I’m just I’m so happy say all this really hard work. It’s not like I saw 3D instantly or my issues went away instantly it took you know several years of work. It’s not like my vision is perfect but I’m now able to manage my vision.

Dr. Nate: [00:16:20] And actually that’s an important important thing to talk about because you did work really hard. You worked many many hours but you’re no stranger to hard work. You worked as a student when you were younger. You worked in the you know the different types of therapies you talked about and so you understood that this is something that I want to work on that I think is achievable.

Dr. Nate: [00:16:45] And so you get lots of lots of credit for it for wanting to do it and actually going through with it. And you know that’s one of our goals with all of our patients is encouraging them and motivating them and educating them this is what’s possible this is how much work. I think it’s going to take. So if I remember correctly there was a time when you were going to see lots of 3D movies. Oh yeah. Very cool stuff. I mean if they have more time it’s going to happen. Well yeah because they’re busy with work. And we you know we understand that but wasn’t there one there was like a children’s movie that you went to see a bunch of times.

Betsy: [00:17:29] Yes so Trolls in 3-D. It was. It was amazing. So I went and saw it five times because each time I saw it in 3-D there’s a lot of bright colors in that. As soon as I took off the 3-D glasses I saw 3-D and then I could go walk around the parking lot and go over to a target and see everything was 3D for. And it lasted for three hours. So it was just really cool. so i just repeated the experience several times. So now I have a 3-D projector at my house where I just a little bit cheaper. So I watch films that way.

Dr. Nate: [00:18:12] Yeah yeah no I remember you. You’re talking about it. And I was like really you went to see trolls again. You’re like, yeah!

Betsy: [00:18:23] Not for the storyline.

Dr. Nate: [00:18:25] But I think you’re right about the colors because a lot of movies like if you were to see like Batman in 3-D it’s like really dark you know even for people who have totally normal vision it’s kind of hard to see because it’s just it’s so dark and the contrast is so low. That was probably a great one to see.

Betsy: [00:18:23] Yeah except I went and saw other darker ones like he just had the same effect. Yeah yeah but the cool thing to see that just reminds me of every year my family went to go see the Rockettes had sound at the beginning they have this 3-D experience. And I was never able to see Santa throw the wreaths over the audience but it was just incredible. So I actually saw him throw the wreathes over the audio. Finally a couple of years ago. So you really need to have that are great.

Dr. Nate: [00:19:23] Well thank you for your time. And it was great catching up with you and good luck with everything else.

Betsy: [00:19:29] Thanks. Good to see you.

Outro: [00:19:34] Brought to you by Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and Bright Eyes Kids. Find previous episodes and more detailed information at BrightEyesTampa.com creative Commons, copyright attribution, non-commercial use. The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor experienced in the area you require. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis country.

 

Intro/outro music: Lucas Warford of Three For Silver.

Dr. Nate and Betsy Yaros discuss Vivid Vision on Bay News 9

Several weeks ago we mentioned that Dr. Randy Shuck from Bay News 9 interviewed Betsy Yaros and Dr. Nate about Vivid Vision, the Virtual Reality Vision Therapy.

You can watch the whole segment here:

Here are the topics that are covered in the interview

  • Betsy discussed the nature of her vision problems. She explains that she was born premature with cross-eyed and required surgeries. Over time her vision got worse. When the eyes don’t work together, people cannot see 3D.
  • Dr. Nate explained that in some cases, such as Betsy’s, eye surgery can actually over-correct the problem and make it worse.
  • VRVTBetsy described some of the experience she had due her vision problem: being unable to read due to headaches, walking into walls, problems with depth perception, challenges with driving.
  • Dr. Nate explains how Vivid Vision applies Virtual Reality experiences to the principles used in vision therapy. In everyday life, each eye sees the world slightly differently and the brain puts the two images together to provide depth perception. In Vision Therapy, we carefully control the image that each eye sees. This is even more precisely controlled by the Occulus Rift VR system.
  • Betsy describes how easy and fun it was to use Vivid Vision and her experience seeing 3D for the first time.
  • Dr. Nate describes that frequently children do not recognize that they do not see the world the way others do and therefore they don’t complain. For this reason, optometrists recommend eye and vision exams and six months of age, 3 years of age, and every year while in school. This will test the visual skills they need to be successful in school, including the how the eyes move, focus, and work together. These skills can be developed through vision therapy, which includes Vivid Vision.
  • The age of patients that can use Vivid Vision is 6 to adulthood. In some cases, Vivid Vision can shorten the total length of treatment. It certainly makes it more fun.

You can see Betsy’s artwork and read her blog at her website: http://betsyyaros.com/

You can read more about Vivid Vision Virtual Reality Vision Therapy. If you have questions about whether or not Vivid Vision or Vision Therapy in general is an option for you or your child, call us at 813-792-9637, or use the comment section below.

-Dr. Nate

Interview with James Blaha, Co-Founder of Vivid Vision

Vivid Vision Logo - With CircleTo continue our series on Virtual Reality. I was lucky enough to interview James Blaha, co-founder of Vivid Vision. I have known James for couple of years and have been fascinated by both his story and the product of his efforts. I am excited to share his thoughts with you.

 

 

Dr. Nate: Can you tell me about your original visual problem and the treatment options you were given?

James: I was diagnosed with amblyopia and strabismus before I could speak using the fly stereo test. I would rub my hand flat on the paper instead of trying to grab the fly. My parents had me patch, but I would constantly take it off and peek out of the side when they weren’t paying attention. I did vision therapy exercises at home and sometimes in a clinic. When I was 9 years old they told me that I was too old for my weak eye to improve, and we should give up with the patching and exercises.

Unfortunately, many patients hear that. What aspects of your treatment did you want to improve with Vivid Vision treatment treatment?

I want to make it fun for younger kids. I absolutely hated patching and VT exercises growing up, and I think that contributed to the treatment not working for me. We also want to demonstrate that you can improve vision in adults with our system as well and push the state of the art forward for adult binocular vision treatments. There are a huge number of untreated adults with amblyopia and strabismus and we want to get the message out that there is something they can do to improve their vision.

Did you have grand vision of changing the way doctors practice or did it just evolve over time?

It evolved over time. At first I was just planning on making something to explore how my own vision works. When it worked better than I expected, that vision expanded to making a game anyone could play at home. Once I dove deeper into binocular vision and spoke to several optometrists, ophthalmologists, and vision scientists it became apparent that it is a deeply complex issue where everyone has a unique situation. This lead us to want to develop tools for optometrists to use rather than release something that didn’t involve eye doctors at all.

How does it feel to read and hear breakthrough stories of Vivid Vision patients like Betsy who describes her new 3D vision as a “superpower”?

It feels amazing. One of the things I’ve learned from speaking with hundreds of people with amblyopia and strabismus is that even though I had a tough time growing up with it, most people had a much more difficult time than I did. The reason we are building Vivid Vision is to improve people’s lives, to increase the reliability and efficiency of treatment, and to reduce the cost of treatment so that all of the millions of adults and children with lazy eye can get access to it. For many that means being able to pursue careers and hobbies that were previously out of their reach.

I expected Vivid Vision to be a great tool for treating amblyopia. I am surprised at how effective it appears to be for strabismus. What is it about Vivid Vision that you think makes it such an effective treatment option?

I think there are three major factors that contribute to the effectiveness of Vivid Vision over previous treatments. The first is that we have an awesome team of optometrists, ophthalmologists, and vision scientists advising us and providing input on the system. Our Chief Optometrist Tuan Tran worked directly with patients and vision therapists treating binocular vision issues, our Science Adviser Ben Backus runs a vision science lab at SUNY studying binocular vision, and Dr. Paul Harris at SCO has given us advice and feedback since nearly the very beginning of the company.

The second factor is our use of virtual reality hardware. Because the system is enclosed, it means that the viewing conditions are always exactly the same. With other 3D technologies external lightning makes it difficult to be sure you are delivering exactly the right visual stimulus. Another big issue is inter-ocular contrast, and VR headsets provide a higher inter-ocular contrast than other methods of delivering unique images to each eye. Lastly, we think that providing training environments that are more like real life will make it more likely that the visual skills patients are learning will transfer outside of the training environment and into the real world.

The third factor is that the games and activities are more fun and more realistic than previous treatments. Although the locations and games may be more exciting and different than the real world, we believe that the exercises should contain visual activities that closely resemble people’s real life. Instead of choosing between relatively artificial targets on a screen, they could be choosing which basketball to catch at a park, for example. We want people to be practicing how to use their vision in ways they can directly apply to their life.

What has been the general feedback from doctors? Does this new technology make them uncomfortable?

Optometrists have been really positive about the technology. I think that most eye doctors realize that vision therapy could use more tools and that there is no reason these activities can’t be engaging and fun. Some doctors have been hesitant to bring in VR technology, but I think that is normal for any new tech to have a warming up period where people get familiar with it.

Is there anything else you want to add?

We want to empower doctors to treat more patients more efficiently by building them a set of tools to measure, track, and treat binocular vision issues. We want to educate patients so that they know there is a treatment option for them and connect them to doctors. We think this is the only way the millions of untreated adults can get treatment for their binocular vision issues.

Thank you, James, for sharing your story.

Bright Eyes is proud to offer Vivid Vision to our patients who will benefit from it. For readers who are interested in Vivid Vision, read more here or call us at 813-792-0637. You can request appointments here.

See Well!

-Dr. Nate

Helping Adults See in 3D With Vision Therapy

It is such an exciting time to provide vision therapy! There are so many advancements in treatment and knowledge in this area of Optometry. Although Vision Therapy is often thought of as an essential treatment for children with vision problems, adults can benefit from it too. A case in point is my patient, Betsy. She is a talented artist. You can see her work and blog here.

Betsy had eye surgeries as a child for crossed eyes. Despite these procedures, she still did not have the ability to keep her eyes aligned or see in 3D. For that, she needed vision therapy. She started therapy in a different state and when she moved to sunny Tampa Bay, she continued therapy with us.

Through vision therapy, Betsy has learned to move and focus her eyes at the same time without suppressing (turning one eye off). She has developed the ability converge her eyes to make them straight.

The most amazing detail about Betsy’s cases was that she acquired depth perception. Or, as the headline of the recent online interview she granted says:

“30 Year Old Describes the Experience of Seeing in 3D for the First Time.”

How did she achieve this?

First, Betsy was totally motivated to improve her vision and learn how to use her eyes together. When I first met her, she described how determined she was to improve her vision, which makes this long-term goal of hers all the more easy to achieve.

Secondly, she worked hard. As she said in the interview, she has done Brock String (a particular Vision Therapy activity) for over a hundred hours! That’s like staring at your nose for 100 hours; can you do that? Wow! All of this hard work and determination has prepared her brain and eyes to appreciate 3D vision.

Finally, Betsy is not afraid to try new things. She has had a number of different glasses, a huge variety of vision therapy activities, and most recently, the Vivid Vision Virtual Reality Vision Therapy System.

As Betsy said in an email to me recently, “This is amazing! I’m seeing 3D all over the place.” This is the most rewarding kind of note an optometrist like me can get from a patient.

And Betsy isn’t the only adult patient in our vision therapy program. Other recent adult patients include one who had double vision from a bicycling accident, one who had tremendous fatigue and double vision at work, another who had amblyopia and was told that she would never see well out of her left eye. All of these adults and others have experienced tremendous benefits from vision therapy.

To sum up: Vision Therapy is not just for kids; adults can benefit from it too. If you are an adult and have questions about your vision, see an optometrist who specializes in binocular vision. There may be options for you! You can start by going to COVD.org and OEPF.org to look for doctors.

Be well!

-Dr. Nate

 

Johnny Depp Can’t See 3D Movies – Maybe He Should See an Optometrist

It’s true! According to several recent entertainment stories such as this one from Engadget, Johnny Depp is unable to see the 3-D effects in the very movies that he stars in. Specifically the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which is to be released May 20th.

They way Depp described it, “I’m unable to see in 3D. My eyes don’t see in 3D. I have a weird eye… It just doesn’t work.”

While all this may seem like a small bit of movie trivia to many people, this may remind a lot of folks of themselves… or their children. We don’t know exactly what is weird about his “eye”, whether it is amblyopia (often called “lazy eye”) or some other condition. But we do know that many of the types of problems can be detected at a very early age. It is recommended that babies have their first eye exam at six months old. Treatment such as glasses or contacts or medical procedures to prevent further problems may allow the patient to have as normal vision as possible…. even normal 3-D vision. Also, vision therapy may be an option to give 3-D vision to patients, young or old. The book “Fixing My Gaze” by Dr. Susan Barry is an excellent example of this.

The recent news about Johnny Depp is just one more reminder that if you or anyone you know has trouble with 3-D movies you should see an optometrist.

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
Dr Nate Google PlusBright Eyes Tampa on Google PlacesBright Eyes Tampa on FacebookBright Eyes Tampa on TwitterBright Eyes Tampa on YelpBright Eyes Tampa on foursquareWestchase Patch

Elbow Distance and Why it Matters

There can be no doubt that all of us, especially children, are doing hand held work more frequently and more intently than ever before. All you have to do is look around any restaurant, doctor’s waiting room, or mini-van, and you will see people of all ages do this. They are reading, playing hand held video games such as the Nintendo 3DS or the PSP, or using their iPhone or Blackberry to watch videos and keep in touch with others.

All of this technology is great, but it can come with a cost – visual discomfort that can interfere with proper vision.

In addition to using proper posture and taking frequent visual breaks from intensely focusing up closely, another important element is how close a person is to the object they are looking at in their hands. A good way to tell if it is the right distance is by using the “Elbow Distance” rule.

Research on human ergonomics has determined that the optimal visual distance for reading and other close work is the Harmon Distance or “Elbow Distance”. This distance is measured by placing a closed fist at the eyes. The point at the end of the elbow represents the closest distance a person should be from their near work.

The beauty of applying Elbow Distance is that as we grow, so do our arms. You would expect a child to hold objects closer to his face than an adult. So instead of a “one size fits some” rule of a certain number of inches, the “Elbow Distance” can apply to almost everyone. Go ahead and try it on yourself now and see if you hold a magazine or cellphone at your Elbow Distance or a little further.

Some people get so absorbed in their games or reading that when they get very close to their work, they are placing undue stress on their vision. I am also very guilty of this. When I get 4 to 5 inches from what I’m writing, my eyes have to work harder to keep the words clear because of the close distance. But if I keep the right distance, the visual system relaxes and performs more efficiently – and I can really tell a difference.

If children or adults frequently get extremely close to their books or games, this may just be a bad habit. But it can also be sign of a visual problem. Either way, it is best to get an exam performed by an eye doctor who specializes in visual efficiency. They can determine if there is a problem and if glasses or vision therapy might be needed.

Be well!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

Dr Nate Google PlusBright Eyes Tampa on Google PlacesBright Eyes Tampa on FacebookBright Eyes Tampa on TwitterBright Eyes Tampa on YelpBright Eyes Tampa on foursquareWestchase Patch

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