The Moving Eye

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Eye movements rely on oculomotor skills.

1) Saccadic Eye Movements are fast eye movements used to shift focus from one target to another.  Saccades are used in tracking, reading, copying, sports and everyday life. Errors occur when people overshoot or undershoot or if their eye movement speed and reaction time is off. This skill breaks down with concussion injury.

2) Fixation - the ability to hold your focus on a target and keep the target single (not double). This skill breaks down with concussion injury.

3) Ocular Pursuits are used to track a moving target with both eyes working together in a smooth and accurate, coordinated fashion without losing fixation or fusion of a single target. 

3a) Convergence.   When you focus on a near target (reading a book), your eye must focus in, turn in and rotate in and these actions must work in a smooth, coordinated fashion without distress or double vision.This skill breaks down with concussion injury.

3b) Divergence.   The opposite of convergence.  When you change your gaze from near to far your eyes must be able to relax their focus, turn out and rotate quickly, smoothly and without distress or double vision.

Most people take these visual skills for granted as oculomotor skills are developed during the first eight years of life.  Oculomotor skills can be enhanced by challenging eye-brain interactions in a very specific way.

Oculomotor skills are commonly dysfunctional in people with reading disabilities and are always dysfunctional in concussion injury and some whiplash injuries.  Stimulating/challenging eye movement skills helps a concussion victim recover and provides feedback as to how well the oculomotor system is recovering. 

Clinical Management of Binocular Vision 4th Ed. Scheiman and Wick is an excellent textbook that describes oculomotor skills and sites current and evidence based research from ophthalmologists, optometrists, PhD researchers, physiologists, psychologists and others.

We are all animals of our environment.  Our bodies and brains are meant to be stimulated and challenged.  The more we exercise our brain and body the stronger we become and our genetic pre-programmed cell death (apotosis) is altered. Although we cannot pick our parents, we can do activities that help us to function at our best level and enhance what we are given.