Binocular Vision: Disorders and Treatment

Image of binoculars.

For many, the term binocular vision conjures images of super powers or the rare ability to spot objects far away, but having binocular vision simply means having two eyes with which to see. Binocular vision does lend creatures with two eyes advantages over those with only one, such as enhanced vision, depth perception, and a wider field of view. Our two eyes functioning properly allow us to view the world in the way we do, perceiving objects both up close and far away, using peripheral vision to see objects at our sides, and using our overlapping field of vision to see objects in greater detail.

In order for binocular vision to function properly, both eyes have to work together. When eyes cannot work together, vision disorders occur. Disorders with binocular vision occur in a large percentage of optometry patients, as many as 20 percent, and can affect those patients' ability to see properly using both eyes. Binocular vision disorders affect normal, daily activities like driving, reading, seeing a computer screen, and participating in sports. The two most common binocular vision disorders are strabismus (crossed eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye). These disorders often present themselves in young children. The two conditions often occur together, but can present individually.

Six muscles support each eye, and ideally work together to keep the eyes pointed in the same direction. In strabismus, these sets of muscles do not coordinate. As a result, the two eyes do not line up in a single direction, and end up focused on different objects. The brain receives two separate images. Unable to combine the images, the brain begins to favor the dominant eye and ignore images from the other. Symptoms of strabismus include double vision, crossed eyes, eyes which are not aligned, independent eye movements, and loss of depth perception. If left untreated, the less dominant eye will become even weaker, eventually leading to amblyopia.

Amblyopia, the most common childhood vision problem, is the loss of one eye's ability to see details, when the nerve path connecting the eye to the brain does not develop. Though strabismus is the most common cause of amblyopia, it can occur independently. Astigmatism, cataracts, nearsightedness, and farsightedness can all cause amblyopia. Symptoms include eyes which do not move together, poor vision in one eye, loss of depth perception, and eyes which turn in or out.

Sources:
American Optometric Association (2014). Amblyopia (Lazy Eye).

American Optometric Association (2014). Strabismus (Crossed Eyes).

eyeSmart (2014). What Is Strabismus?.

National Eye Institute (2013). Facts About Amblyopia.

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Testimonial

  • "Before our daughter began vision therapy she was struggling with reading and sports. We thought she was just clumsy (walking into walls and falling a lot). My wife and I know something was't quite right; so we had our daughter tested for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, took her to an optometrist and to an eye specialist at a hospital. My wife's mother urged us to see Dr. Gordon. A significant visual tracking problem was found.
    After vision therapy our daughter went from needing extra help with reading to reading above grade level. She is now excelling in softball and has been named to the All-Star Team this year. She has become more confident and willing to try new things."
    "We can't thank Dr. Gordon's office enough for our daughter's success."
    Drew D.
  • "Before vision therapy reading was terrible. Nothing made sense on the paper. Vision therapy helped me with spelling and reading. I'm not skipping lines when reading and I love how I was taught to spell. I bring home 100's in spelling and reading is coming along too!
    I'm also on the Honor Roll at school too!"
    Elizabeth S.
  • "Our son was in 2nd grade when we found out that he had vision problems. He was referred to the occupational therapist in school for his handwriting. After her testing she called to tell us that all of signs were related to vision problems. Our son complained of headaches, motion sickness and very bad handwriting.
    Most of his teachers were telling us they thought he had ADD or ADHD.
    His attention span in school was short and he rushed through his work. He absolutely hated anything that had to do with writing.
    After starting vision therapy we saw improvements very quickly; as well as his teachers. His handwriting has improved tremendously and his posture is much better.
    We are so thankful for the occupational therapist discovering his vision challenge. We drove an hour and a half each way to Dr. Gordon's office for our weekly vision therapy sessions.
    The success of our son was well worth the drive."
    Amber W.
  • "What a difference! It has been an emotional roller coaster dealing with certain aspects of our son's left. But it was refreshing to know that we could count on the staff administering vision therapy to have his best interest in mind. To watch our son overcome the obstacles he had prior to vision therapy is worth everything. We absolutely recommend vision therapy because we have seen what it can do for our child. We are grateful for vision therapy and couldn't imagine his life without it!"
    Jerome K.
  • "I saw words differently and struggled throughout my childhood with my sight. After years of testing and appointments I found Dr. Gordon who diagnosed a Convergence Insufficiency. After a few months of vision therapy I was amazed at the my improvement.
    My life is truly changed!"
    Ella S.
  • "My son has always struggled in school. As an educator I looked for answers based on what I knew; learning disabilities, ADHD, etc. By the time he was in 4th grade I had to find some way to help my son. I realized that many of his symptoms were similar to many of my students who had Central Auditory Processing difficulties. Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center confirmed the diagnosis and recommended a visual processing evaluation. No one ever considered his reading challenges to be related to a visual processing problem. Since starting vision therapy his struggles in school have decreased, his math grades have improved as well as his reading; and he is more confident in his ability to succeed."
    Joanne L.
  • "Dr. Gordon is a developmental optometrist, which means...he is trained to deal with eye dysfunctions beyond simple near-sightedness/far-sightedness and...he can help improve vision through behavior programs. Dr. Gordon patiently worked with me to get the best possible prescription...He's a compassionate and very competent eyecare professional, and I strongly recommend him."
    Michael L.