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Autism and Vision | Long Island Eye Doctor

Suchi Matalia, OD

April is Autism Awareness Month.  Specifically, for the past few years, April 2 has been dedicated to celebrate the day with events to raise funding and awareness about the condition. 

The New York Times recently published information about a study which shows links between eye contact and development of Autism.  The study analyzed eye movements and eye tracking in kids.  Results demonstrated that infants who avoided eye contact with people and were more focused on non human objects after two months of age were more likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.  On the other hand, typical developing children were getting better at making eye contact with humans after two months. 

Below are some visual problems or conditions individuals with autism may experience:

·  Strabismus – many children have crossed eyes or a lazy eye

·  Unable to integrate their central and peripheral vision – They tend to ignore their peripheral surroundings and stay focused on a central object for long periods of time

·  Avoid eye contact with other individuals

·  Gaze at spinning objects or light for long periods of time

·  Brief peripheral glancing

·  Visually defensive – they may avoid eye contact with specific type of visual textures

·  Constantly move the eyes and scan areas rather than keeping eyes still to view the area

Eye exams for people with autism varies on the individual.  It’s important to remember that reading the eye chart only measures the clarity of eyesight.  It does not evaluate the individual’s ability to eye movement, eye teaming, eye tracking, depth perception, etc.  Treatment also varies from glasses to correct vision, and possible vision therapy to enhance visual performance and integration. 


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