the eric update – day 583: The Vision ( Motor ) Thing.

today, while at odin’s preemie play group we learned a bit more about his eyesight.

first, he had his eyes re-examined with a handheld diagnostic tool, which is really only meant to screen for eye problems and not give a definitive number. but regardless, the number it did return was -3.8 for each eye, which is slightly better than his -5.0 diagnosis, but my guess is they’re probably both wrong given the limits of how the measuring is being done and his “real” diopter is probably somewhere between the two values. keep in mind that a diopter of -4.0 translates to about 20/280, meaning that what a person with 20/20 vision can see at 280 feet ( 85 m ), he could only see at 20 feet.

to further complicate matters, we received the written report from his previous assessment and it’s possible that something we initially dismissed as inconsequential, may be of consequence.

you may recall that the woman who performed his functional visual consultation noted that he seemed to be having trouble walking on unfamiliar territory, but we didn’t think too much of it, because he so quickly conquered new terrain. he was so adept that it didn’t really occur to us that he might just be really good at compensating for other issues.

from the written report [ emphasis added ]:

“Qualitative differences were noted in his ability to maintain his balance, equilibriium responses and reactions to overall stability. These skills may be impacted by his visual acuity and newness in having had limited opportunities and experiences to respond and react to distance and depth decisions.

Eric’s overall visual motor development would benefit from increased opportunities that would promote body awareness, challenge standing balance, promote bilateral coordinate and motor control skills.”

note the use of the word “may”, which loosely translated means that odin has some visual motor development deficits that may or may not be caused by his vision loss. and i must say it caught me by surprise to see just how much compensating he’s been doing. during our time at play group when tasked with new, new activities specifically meant to challenge specific aspects of his visual motor integration ( such as edge detection and depth perception while moving ), it was a little shocking to see how poorly he’d do.

at this point it’s a too early to say anything definitive. odin might just need a little extra help with visual motor integration. or he might need a lot. at the very least, we already know he’s astonishingly quick at compensating for whatever might be going on, which is better than not.

instead of freaking out while wondering if he’ll have to live his life unable to detect edges while moving, we’ll focus on our long list of new activities meant to stimulate his rapidly developing visual motor system.

if anyone has any suggestions for an adjustable ramp/stair system, i’d love to hear them; we’d like to be able to adjust the “rise over run” of the steps because he seems to be able to “learn” to climb stairs quickly, but it’s not really apparent whether or not he can actually visually detect the edge of the steps and we’d like to constantly challenge his assumptions about what makes a step a step.

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