Vision Problems and Autism (ASD)

While autism and vision problems are separate medical issues (neither one directly causes the other), there is some noticeable overlap. Patients with autism frequently also suffer from vision issues which may exacerbate problems caused by their autism. For example, a vision issue which makes it hard to properly focus the eyes and maintain eye contact can make it even harder for someone with a developmental problem making communication difficult.  

Additionally, some vision issues can cause symptoms which may be mistaken for autism symptoms and thus lead to misdiagnosis.

 

Vision Problems and Autism (ASD) in Olympia

American Family Vision Clinic

Vision Problems Often Experienced by People with Autism

There are a number of vision-related symptoms often experienced by people with autism.  These symptoms can be caused by the autism itself, but often are caused by vision issues. 

These symptoms include:

  • Poor eye contact
  • Peripheral vision issues
  • Eye tracking difficulty
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye alignment issues

 

Autistic Behavior Due to Vision Issues

There are also some recognized autistic behaviors which can be caused, at least in part, by vision issues. These include:

  • Head tilting
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Visual stimming (flapping fingers in front of the eyes)
  • Absence of reciprocal play
  • Looking past, or through objects.

Why are Autism and Vision Issues Often Found Together?

Autism is a developmental disorder typically described as a condition which makes it difficult for someone to properly interact with the world around them. Due to the fact that it is a challenge for them to interact with things, especially in social settings, they may engage in habits that inhibit their visual development, or they may simply not develop some of the crucial vision skills they need, and thus suffer from vision problems.

 

On the other hand, since vision is a key tool in a child’s development, vision issues can lead to slower development, which manifests as more severe autism. Thus correcting any vision issues can help the child make up for their slower prior development, and have an easier time interacting with the world around them.

Why are Autism and Vision Issues Often Found Together?
How are Autistic Patients Tested for Vision Issues?

How are Autistic Patients Tested for Vision Issues?

Depending on the level of the patient’s emotional and physical development, the vision testing process can vary. Often, the tests are done while the patient wears special lenses as they perform a series of activities. These tests help our doctor understand just how the autistic patient is seeing, and what can be done to improve their vision skills. Following the tests, our doctor will formulate a personalized treatment plan based on the patient’s needs and level of development.

How are Autistic Patients Tested for Vision Issues?

What is the Goal of Treatment?

Vision therapy is designed to help the patient improve their vision skills to correct the problems they are experiencing, and thus improve their quality of life. For autistic patients, this treatment can help them better process visual information, improve their eye coordination, better organize their visual space, and better manage both their central and peripheral vision.

Treatment includes specialized exercises, as well as vision aids such as specialized lenses. Depending on the nature of the patient’s vision issues, corrective lenses may also be prescribed.

Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Summary

While vision issues and autism are separate conditions, they are often comorbid, and treating these vision problems can help improve the quality of life for autism patients, though their vision therapy should also be in conjunction with other forms of treatment or therapy. Vision therapy, with its highly individualized treatment plans, is a great choice both for correcting vision issues and for working with autism patients who have additional struggles. If your child has autism, and you suspect they may also be suffering from a vision issue, contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

Testimonials


  • Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.


    Anna P.

  • I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.


    June S.

  • Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.


    Christine R.

  • Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.


    Lars Wulff

  • Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.


    Justin E.

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