Vi­sion and Your Brain

The Oban Times - - Leisure - with John Wal­lace John Wal­lace BSc (Hons), FCOp­tom, DipCLP Wal­lace Op­tometrists The West High­land Orthok­er­a­tol­ogy Clinic 11/12 Ar­gyll Square, Oban Tel: 0845 230 3937 (EYES) www.wal­laceop­tometrists.co.uk

You prob­a­bly think of your visit to your op­tometrist as a time to en­sure you are see­ing as well as pos­si­ble. You prob­a­bly be­lieve see­ing the small­est line on the test chart is all you need to do to have ex­cel­lent vi­sion. What makes us hu­mans dif­fer­ent to most other species on the planet is our abil­ity to see in 3D. It’s still pos­si­ble to func­tion at a high level with only one eye but it is much harder than when us­ing stereo­scopic (3D) vi­sion. When we use 3D vi­sion we can very ac­cu­rately know where we are in our vis­ual world. That might seem a rather strange idea but, if we don’t know where we are, we can­not move around safely. Driv­ing would be like play­ing on the cir­cus dodgems with ev­ery­one crash­ing into each other. Pour­ing boil­ing wa­ter into a cup of cof­fee would be ex­tremely dan­ger­ous as it would be very dif­fi­cult to ac­cu­rately judge the ex­act po­si­tion of the top of the cup.

Our brains have evolved to en­able us to have ex­tremely ac­cu­rate 3D vi­sion. Some­times things can go wrong and sud­denly we can find our vis­ual world turned up­side down. Chil­dren with read­ing prob­lems very fre­quently have un­di­ag­nosed de­fects in their 3D vi­sion sys­tem. If you have suf­fered from con­cus­sion you might have found it hard to fo­cus or to judge dis­tances. Like­wise pa­tients who have had a stroke can find their vi­sion very dif­fi­cult to cope with.

In pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cles I have dis­cussed how it is pos­si­ble to re­wire our brains. Gone are the days when I had to day to a par­ent their child with the lazy eye would never see any bet­ter. Like­wise it is of­ten pos­si­ble to help pa­tients with brain in­jury to min­imise any deficit caused by their in­jury.

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