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Links Between Autism and Vision Impairment

While there is evidence of a link between Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and vision impairment, recent research indicates that visual therapy may help – and also reduce some common ASD behaviours and symptoms.

This is exciting news for the one in 150 people with Autism in Australia.1

Data from a study published in 2021 indicated there was an increased risk of eye diagnoses in children with ASD,2 and a ten year study of children diagnosed with ASD confirmed that 71% had significant eye problems.3

Autism and Vision Problems

  • Blurred vision (both distance and near)
  • Difficulty accurately tracking moving objects
  • Head turn
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Lazy eye

 

  • Light sensitivity
  • Looking at objects from the side of eyes
  • Misalignment of eyes
  • Rolling of eyes

Vision Therapy

Unfortunately, standard eye screening tests are insufficient to pick up visual problems associated with ASD.4

Visual problems don’t occur in a bubble, as many parents of children with ASD will testify.

They are often related to the behavioural and sensory difficulties associated with ASD5 – such as motor skills, cognition, speech, and sensory stimulation. 

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy starts with a comprehensive vision examination that investigates eye tracking, depth perception, eye focussing, and visual fields.

The aim of vision therapy is to strengthen the neurological connection between the brain and eyes. Children experiencing improved visual processing, are able to better understand their surroundings.

Non-invasive procedures are used, such as simple, age-appropriate exercises that enhance eye alignment, eye focussing, eye movements and visual processing6 tailored to the individual child’s needs.

Yoked Prisms

Vision can also benefit from the use of prisms in both spectacle lenses, with tests conducted while the child walks or plays with a ball.6

These yoked prism lenses, worn daily during the vision therapy program, lead to significant improvements in posture, balance, and attention.7 They help children to organise their visual space and focus on central vision, with the ultimate goal being efficient eye teaming and better visual information processing.8

Visuomotor Training

Visuomotor training is a blend of visual perception and motor performance exercises such as catching a ball, jumping, or running. Research shows that it can result in a significant reduction in repetitive behaviours, and increase gross motor skill scores.9

If you would like to find out more about the potential of autism vision therapy, the behavioural optometrists at Aphrodite Livanes Eyecare Plus have a special interest in this area. Call us on 3824 1878 or book an appointment online today.

 

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Children's eye tests start from 6 months of age.

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