Developmental Exams vs. Routine Eye Exams

Many parents believe that getting an annual routine eye exam for their children is sufficient, but it may not be enough. Routine eye exams only check for visual acuity and eye health. Developmental eye exams test for visual acuity, eye health, and the additional 16 skills; which make up the visual system. Vision, is developed from infancy. Upon birth, the human eye sees only dark shadows, and much like learning to walk, vision develops over time as the visual skills below are used in daily life.

The 17 Visual Skills

Lauver 8393 The 17 Visual Skills

Most people don’t realize that you need 17 visual skills to succeed in reading, learning, sports, and in life. Seeing ‘20/20’ is just one of those visual skills. Here is the complete list:

1. Eye Movement Control
2. Simultaneous Focus at Far
3. Sustaining Focus at Far
4. Simultaneous Focus at Near
5. Sustaining Focus at Near
6. Simultaneous Alignment at Far
7. Sustaining Alignment at Far
8. Simultaneous Alignment at Near
9. Sustaining Alignment at Near
10. Central Vision (Visual Acuity)
11. Peripheral Vision
12. Depth Awareness
13. Color Perception
14. Gross Visual-Motor
15. Fine Visual-Motor
16. Visual Perception
17. Visual Integration

Developmental exams are non-invasive and can be performed by a trained developmental optometrist. As long as there’s a medical complaint, such as headaches, or eye strain, insurance will often cover a developmental eye exam, and the Affordable Care Act allows for free glasses for all children under 19 years of age. (According to Federal & State Guidelines)

Consider these facts:

1. Parents are given a false sense of security when they are told that their child passed a Snellen chart vision screening at school or a doctor’s office. This test only checks for visual acuity at a distance.

2. Schools are wasting precious resources and finances treating reading and learning problems that originate from the symptom, and not the cause.

3. Only three states currently require mandatory eye exams before entering schools - Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri.

4. Only two states, Massachusetts and Ohio require mandatory eye exams within the first three months of entering a special education program.

5. 25% of all students have a visual processing problems - National PTA 1999.

6. 66% of illiterate adults have a visual processing problems – National Center of Adult Literacy.

7. 70% of juvenile delinquents have a visual processing problem– Folsom Prism Study.

8. Poor basic skills cost businesses $60 billion annually – National Institute for Literacy.

A routine eye exam will not catch a binocular or developmental disorders. Schedule a developmental eye exam for your child today!

Diagnostic Testing


Readalyzer is a diagnostic tool that uses infrared technology to record eye movements while reading. This is used to diagnose eye tracking and teaming dysfunctions as well as reading comprehension problems not remediated with tutoring.

Diopsys Neuro Optic Vision Assessment

The Diopsys Neuro Optic Vision Assessment (Visual Evoked Potential Testing Systems) have been developed for eye care professionals to objectively measure the neurological responses of the entire visual pathway. This test is non-invasive, patient-friendly, and only takes a few minutes. Best of all, the patient is asked only to watch a series of quick videos to complete the test.

Visual Evoked Potentials

Visual Evoked Potentials (VEPs) are electrical signals that are measured from the electrophysiological activity at the visual cortex. A technician will generally place three sensors on the patient's head to measure the VEP signal that travels from the retina to the visual cortex. VEPs occur when a patient observes a visual stimulus, such as a flash of light, or a pattern on a monitor. VEP results are a representation of the functional integrity of all levels of the visual pathway including the retina, optic nerve, optic radiations, and visual cortex.

VEP waveforms are represented on graphs using amplitude and time (latency) measurements. In general terms, the amplitude, measured in microvolts, indicates the integrity of the neural structures including axons conducting information along the visual pathway. Latency, measured in milliseconds, indicates the time the electrical signal takes to travel from the retina to the visual cortex. The combination of amplitude and latency is helpful in determining the health of the visual pathway.

VEP recordings have been used for a variety of applications that involve neurovisual disorders such as glaucoma, amblyopia, multiple sclerosis, and diabetic retinopathy. Visual Evoked Potential tests provide the clinician with objective data on vision abnormalities that are often subtle and difficult to detect, as no response is required from the patient. This also allows clinicians to test preverbal children, infants, and patients with communication difficulties.

View a demonstration of the VEP test

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