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  • Doug Cook

Focusing Problems Illustrated

Problems with focusing (accommodation) are frequent causes of vision problems in children and adults.  Different varieties of focusing problems are simulated below as they would appear to a child at their desk in the classroom.  Symptoms of problems in this category include:

  1. Comprehension reduces as reading continued: loses interest too quickly

  2. Mispronounces similar words as continues reading

  3. Blinks excessively at desk tasks and/or reading; not elsewhere

  4. Holds book too closely: face too close to desk surface

  5. Avoids all possible near-centered tasks

  6. Complains of discomfort in tasks that demand visual interpretation

  7. Closes or covers one eye when reading or doing desk work

  8. Makes errors in copying from chalkboard to paper on desk

  9. Makes errors in copying from reference book to notebook

  10. Squints to see chalkboard, or requests to move nearer

  11. Rubs eyes during or after short periods of visual activity

  12. Fatigues easily; blinks to make chalkboard clear up after desk task

Accommodative Insufficiency

Accommodative insufficiency occurs because of the eye can not maintain clear vision at near.

Ill-Sustained Accommodation

Ill-sustained accommodation is similar to accommodative insufficiency except print may initially appear clear and easy to read without effort.  With time, the task at near begins to require more effort to focus.  Blurred vision, eyestrain and headaches can occur with sustained effort.  A simple visual acuity test at near (as what is frequently done during a vision screening) will usually not detect this problem.

Normal Focusing

Our focusing system is usually quite fast at focusing.  Most people can focus at near in about 1/5 of a second as simulated above.

Accommodative Infacility


With accommodative infacility, there is a delay in the clearing of the print.  The simulation above shows how a student with this problem would be slowed.  Copying information from a chalkboard to your desk is a frequent activity in a classroom.  It takes the student longer to obtain and transfer the information.

For all of the above problems, lenses or vision therapy or a combination of both may be prescribed.  The success of treatment is quite high.  A few cases may require only short term use of lenses or vision therapy while others may have a need throughout their youth for this type of help.

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