Autism and Eye Care

This 2019 World Autism Awareness Day, the focus is on bringing assistive technologies to use for people with autism. The UN Secretary General António Guterres says, "On World Autism Awareness Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to promote the full participation of all people with autism, and ensure they have the necessary support to be able to exercise their rights and fundamental freedoms."

Autism Facts

This Autism Awareness Day, know about this disorder as early diagnosis and proper treatment can increase the chances of improving significantly. The needs of a person with autism are different and to bring them at par with others it is important to treat and teach them with the right therapies and methodology.

What is Autism?

Autism is a behavioural syndrome and a neurobiological disorder. There are varied conditions that are classified as neurobiological disorders, which is why it is often referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism affects the way a child communicates with the world and comprehends the world around. It mainly affects the way the brain will interpret information and social signs in terms of movement, hearing, vision, smell and taste.

A child with autism often exhibits restricted behaviour and has difficulties in communicating. There are also behavioural and sensory issues. However, not every child with autism will show similar signs or behave in the same way. Autism is a spectrum of disorders and every child with autism will respond differently. Some children may cover their ears when they hear a sound, while others may move around constantly. Some are overresponsive, whileothers are under responsive to external stimuli.

Autism and Visual Problems
Autism and Visual Problems

A child with ASD can have delayed language, motor, social and sensory skills that can impact the visual processing. Similarly, visual problems can affect cognitive, speech, social and emotional milestones of a child with autism. Visual concerns are often common in people with autism. Some of the signs that one can notice from childhood include light sensitivity, issues with eye movement, staring at spinning objects, bumping into objects, widening the eyes or squinting them when asked to look at something and poor eye contact.

Some studies also indicate that issues of long and short-sightedness and astigmatism are often common in people with ASD. But these visual problems can be treated and managed with timely eye care. In fact, the American Optometric Association recommends regular eye test for children from 6 months of age.

peripheral vision

One of the most common eye concerns among autistic individuals is that of coordinating central and peripheral vision. For instance, when you ask them to follow an object with their eyes, they will often not look at it directly. Instead, they will scan the side of the object. In most cases, they either use their central macular vision, i.e. focus on the object in the centre or peripheral vision. Infants start using their peripheral vision before using their central macular vision. However, children with autism are often slow in using their central vision. It is for this reason that an autistic child may seem to be looking elsewhere instead of looking directly at you. This poor integration of peripheral and central vision impacts an autistic individual’s ability to process visual information.

eye checkup
Eye Examination & Eye Care for People with Autism

Children and adults with autism require regular eye examination. An early diagnosis can improve the chances of improvement and success. Moreover, an eye checkup of an autistic person will be different. To determine the eye health, the optometrist will examine colour vision, eye tracking, acuity, eye focus, near or farsightedness. Besides, they will also observe visual behaviour and postural adaptations.

According to the results, vision therapy, optical lenses or prisms will be used to correct the vision problems. Besides, the optometrist may also consult the physician and deploy a multi-disciplinary approach for effective and efficient results.

So, this World Autism Awareness Day, share this article and pledge to spread Autism awareness along with Vision Express.

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