Visual Accommodation

Accommodation is the ability to adjust the focus of the eyes as the distance between the individual and the object changes. Children frequently use this vision skill in the classroom as they shift their attention (and focus) between their book or tablet device and the whiteboard for sustained periods of time. Being able to maintain focus at near distances is important for reading, writing and taking tests.

This process is achieved by the lens changing its shape. Accommodation is the adjustment of the optics of the eye to keep an object in focus on the retina as its distance from the eye varies. If you have issues with speed or ease of focus, you may have a visual problem called accommodative dysfunction.

Symptoms of Accommodative dysfunctions:

  1. Blurred Vision
  2. Posture and viewing distance adjustments
  3. Difficulty maintaining clear vision
  4. Difficulty shifting focus from one distance to another

This issue can occur in children or adults, expressing its symptoms with difficulty sustaining long periods of time with near focus. Rather than an issue with eyesight, accommodative dysfunction is an acquired fatigue issue, producing eye strain and stress.

What types of focusing problems occur?

Four types of focusing problems can occur in children and young adults.

  1. Accommodative insufficiency - An individual loses the ability to contract the focusing muscle for adequate periods of time.
  2. Accommodative spasm- The focusing muscle in the eye actually goes into a muscle spasm and is unable to relax.
  3. Accommodative excess - A focusing muscle over contracts when looking up close
  4. Accommodative in facility - difficulty with both contraction and relaxation of the muscle.

Treatment of Eye Focusing Problems

If you experience more than one of the problems above, it may be time to contact an optometrist for a comprehensive visual assessment. In some cases, glasses for near use only, or in special bifocal form, may be needed. Improved focusing ability can usually be developed with a program of Vision Therapy.


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