“Assessing vision in the autism population may be a clinical challenge for some doctors. The doctors at Excel have experience of working with patients on all levels of the spectrum and can perform objective and subjective, if possible, assessments to gather knowledge on the patient’s visual system.”
Adults and children can be diagnosed with autism. Autism is a spectrum disorder and patients with ASD may also have visual deficits. In certain cases, autism patients can require more attention and testing to assess their maximal visual potential. In the primary care eye clinic, traditional tests or evaluations may not be appropriate or accurately measure the visual systems’ abilities.
Depending on the type of autism diagnosed, the examination should be appropriately selected for the patient. In patients with non-verbal autism, certain acuity measures can be assessed to determine the patient’s visual acuity. These acuity measures consist of utilizing specialized contrast acuity charts and giving a range of the patient’s ability to see.
In addition, patients with ASD may also have difficulty with eye contact.
In the visual system there are two visual processing streams: parvocellular and magnocellular. These two processing streams assess central detail (e.g., acuity, color vision, faces) and peripheral information (e.g., motion processing). One thought process is that patients with ASD may have parvocellular neglect and avoid high details objects or targets. When they avoid these targets, they may often rely on their peripheral processing stream. Some patients with ASD will flap their arm. This is thought to engage their peripheral processing system (motion processing) to help them understand where they are in space. In addition to motion processing, the peripheral system helps guide us visually where we are in space and maintain balance and equilibrium.
Treatment options for vision-related deficits in ASD consist of optometric phototherapy (see link in our web page), vision therapy, glasses, tints, prisms, and occlusions.
Given the large spectrum of ASD, patients who are on the spectrum may have more mild or severe findings and treatment is individualized to the need of the patient.
IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD HAVE AUTISM AND HAVE ANY VISUAL SYMPTOMS OR ANY OF THE SIGNS ABOVE CALL TODAY FOR AN EVALUATION WITH ONE OF OUR DOCTORS!
Fisher J, Phan T. Incorporating Behavior Modifications, Strategies, and Supports to Maximize the Effectiveness of Vision Therapy in the Autism Spectrum Disorder population. Vision Development & Rehabilitation. 2019;5(4);255.