A Functional Vision Assessment is an evaluation of an individual's visual strengths and limitations as they relate to the ability to interact with the visual environment – how they use their vision to function. A Functional Vision Assessment does not replace a comprehensive eye examination, but instead should be performed following a comprehensive eye examination. This allows the necessary information to be gathered by the doctor and shared with the patient's parents and care team.
Given the higher incidence of ocular and visual complications in individuals with syndromes and other special needs, it is important to have a Functional Vision Assessment that determines how visual information is taken in by the patient and processed by the brain.
Who Should Receive A Functional Vision Assessment?
A Functional Vision Assessment is appropriate for both children and adults, as it is based on developmental age and functioning of the individual. All individuals with special needs should receive their comprehensive eye examinations from a Residency-Trained Pediatric Optometrist or Pediatric Ophthalmologist. This eye examination should be followed by a Functional Vision Assessment with a Residency-Trained Pediatric Optometrist.
A Functional Vision Assessment is designed for individuals with special needs or developmental delays. It is especially important that individuals receiving rehabilitative services (occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech/language therapy or habilitative services) receive a Functional Vision Assessment. Understanding a person's visual limitations allows for visual environments to be modified and tasks made visually-accessible. Undiagnosed vision problems affect not only one's ability to see, but can impact motor function, mobility, speech development, coordination and overall development.
Conditions indicating the need for a Functional Vision Assessment include:
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Cerebral Palsy
- Chromosomal Abnormalities
- Cortical Visual Impairment
- Developmental Disabilities
- Developmental Dyspraxia
- Down Syndrome
- Failure To Thrive
- Genetic Anomalies
- Neuromuscular Disorders
- Shaken Baby Syndrome
Many of the above mentioned conditions have associated vision problems. Some of these vision conditions affect clarity of vision, while others affect eye focusing, eye teaming, eye movements, or visual perception. A Residency-Trained Pediatric Optometrist has the advanced, specialized training and clinical experience to diagnose and manage the wide range of visual deficits that may be present.
What Occurs During A Functional Vision Assessment?
A Functional Vision Assessment builds on the information gathered during the comprehensive eye examinations with a Residency-Trained Pediatric Optometrist or Pediatric Ophthalmologist. Knowing that the eyes are healthy and the proper prescription is in place allows Dr. Kronberg, Residency-Trained Pediatric Optometrist, to assess several aspects of visual functioning.
The areas tested include:
- Functional Visual Acuity: Assesses visual acuity (visual clarity, sharpness of vision) for near (reading, writing, drawing, etc), mid-range (alternative communication device, computer, etc.), and distance vision
- Color Vision: Assesses for color vision deficiency, which can make early learning more challenging.
- Contrast Sensitivity: Assesses the ability to detect contrast between low patterns, various shades of black decreasing to gray, and the ability to see objects in terms of size and contrast. This skill is especially important for mobility
- Visual Field: Assesses field of vision to determine what areas of the individual's surrounding can be seen, and identify those areas of field loss which restrict visual function.
- Depth Perception: Assesses the ability to see objects in three dimensions (3D), perceive distances between objects, and determine the speed at which objects are traveling.
- Binocular Abilities: Assesses the ability to use both eyes efficiently to maintain clear, comfortable, single binocular vision. Binocular Vision Dysfunction can impair one's ability to look at near material and can cause double vision.
- Accommodative Abilities: Assesses the eye's focusing ability, a skill required to maintain clear vision.
- Oculomotor Abilities: Assesses eye tracking abilities. This skill is necessary for reading, scanning the visual environment and accessing visually-presented material.
- Visual Perception: Assesses the ability to interpret, or gain meaning, from visually-presented material. Individuals with visual perceptual deficits often have difficulties with crowded visual environments and extracting meaningful visual information.
During a Functional Vision Assessment Dr. Kronberg will evaluate several aspects of vision that impact daily tasks. Her results will help determine how to best present visual information (whether it be learning material or as part of an adaptive communication device), how vision may be impacting mobility or current therapies, and how the visual environment should be modified to allow for optimal learning and interaction.
The results of a Functional Vision Assessment should be shared with the individual's care team, including rehabilitative therapists and educators. The information provided allows the multidisciplinary care team to:
- Develop educationally relevant recommendations and establish modifications, methods and strategies to improve learning.
- Modify and enhance therapy techniques to improve environmental function and improve daily living skills, including mobility and play skills.
How Does A Functional Vision Assessment Differ From An Eye Examination?
A comprehensive eye examinations from a Residency-Trained Pediatric Optometrist or Pediatric Ophthalmologist is a crucial part of the annual health care routine for all children, but especially those with special needs. During a comprehensive eye examination, the doctor will evaluate the health of the eyes, the refractive error (prescription) and run several cursory tests of visual function. This allows the doctor to identify ocular pathology, if present, and determine if glasses are needed to improve visual clarity and function.
A Functional Vision Assessment provides more in-depth testing of the visual system than a standard vision exam. Following a comprehensive eye health exam those individuals who are considered visually low functioning should be evaluated by a Residency Trained Pediatric Optometrist, such as Jill A. Kronberg, OD, FAAO during a Functional Vision Assessment.
The purpose of a Functional Vision Assessment is to help identify accommodations, modifications, or strategies which can be used to improve visual function. Visual conditions and abilities can change over time, which is why Functional Vision Assessments should be repeated periodically to remain up-to-date and current with visual and developmental requirements.
In addition to sharing her findings with you, you may request that Dr. Jill Kronberg, residency-trained pediatric optometrist, send a summary letter to your child’s pediatrician, family physician, or other members of your child’s care team. The report will cover all of the examination findings as well as any appropriate recommendations or classroom accommodations that will enhance the learning environment.
Dr. Jill Kronberg is dedicated to helping each individual achieve their personal best, and that begins with a Functional Vision Assessment. Call our office at 208-900-3336 to schedule an appointment. Dr. Kronberg is in-network with most insurances, and a referral is not required.