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Eye Movement Exercises

Specific eye movement exercises are very powerful for treating physiological brain lesions. Our visual system is the one system that utilizes the entire brain to process and interpret information. Eye movements are under reflexogenic and volitional control. This requires activation of many secondary surrounding brain areas to modulate and check the feedback information on eye movement accuracy and if the motor commands were carried out exactly as it was intended. In order to perceive our world accurately it is important for the eyes to land right on the intended target. Accurate eye movements create an accurate retinotopic map which is literally a stored map of the visual world surrounding us. These maps are constantly referenced and utilized with every movement we make. The brain has to know exactly where objects are in the environment in order to generate a motor command that allows someone to reach out and pick up a glass of water without spilling it or missing the glass all together. This is why examination of eye movements is a window into brain function.

Specific eye movement exercises are prescribed for each patient and tailored to address their individualized neurological dysfunction.

The following eye movements are measured and used as treatment therapies to remap problematic brain circuits:

Gaze Stability

It is essential that the brain stabilizes the gaze of the eyes for proper focus and attention as well as motor coordination. One of the most common ocular motor deficiencies seen in neuro-developmental disorders and decreased brain function is poor gaze stability.

Pursuits

Pursuits are slow and steady eye movements that allow you to track a moving object. Good, smooth pursuits are essential to everyday functions but are particularly important in the mechanics of reading and playing sports. Every time a person tracks or follow an object they are using an eye pursuit mechanism. Deficits in eye movements can localize the area of neurological compromise and can then be combined appropriate to rehabilitate brain function and symptoms.

Saccades

Saccades are fast eye movement used to shift a person’s gaze from one object to another. Saccades are initiated by the frontal lobes and the burst-velocity signals are then generated from the pontine paramedian reticular formation in the brainstem. The frontal lobe is important in executive functions, attention, and learning. A person’s saccades can be evaluated to determine their level of frontal lobe and brainstem function. Saccades need to be fast and accurate. Saccades are also used in reading when a person shifts their line of site from one line they are reading to the next. If a person’s saccades are not accurate it can be difficult for them to read and retain information.

Optokinetics (OPK)

This is an essential eye movement that allows for visual function as the surrounding visual environment passes by. When these are dysfunctional it can indicate poor brain function. Rightward OPK is generated by the right brain and leftward OPK is generated by the left brain. The quality of the OPK response can help us determine what side of the brain is not functioning as well. This brain imbalance is seen in many people with neurological deficits.

Vestibular Ocular Reflex

When you child moves their head their eyes should move equally in the opposite direction if this reflex is functioning properly. This reflex is poorly developed in children with neuro-developmental disorders.

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