Eye teaming, or binocular vision, is a visual skill that allows both of our eyes to point at the same target in space in a precise and coordinated manner. Our eyes are working as a “team” under normal conditions and move together as a pair. This allows for clear, single, comfortable vision, and is the basis for depth perception. When the eyes are not synchronized, then it is known as a Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD).
Each eye will send a slightly different image to the brain’s visual cortex where they work together in fusing or combining them into one single image. When done properly, this will allow a stable clear 3D view of the object. However, if the eyes do not perform in tandem, one might experience double vision and create a confusing view of the world. Eye teaming problems, or BVD, can cause double vision, headaches, blurred vision and eyestrain, especially during reading and close work.
Eye teaming most often affects children and cannot always be detected grossly by looking at a child. Teaming issues do not improve with age and should be treated with vision therapy to correct the issue. Children may suffer from Convergence Insufficiency or Excess, where the eyes have a strong tendency to turn out or in during reading or close work. Effort must be expended to keep the eyes from turning in or out. This sustainable effort by the eyes often cause; headaches, double vision, and other symptoms, which can hinder a child’s learning abilities. More dramatic forms of eye teaming problems can be seen through the evidence of a strabismus, which is when the eye loses its sustainability and wanders in or out.
Convergence Insufficiency is when one struggles to aim their eyes inward. Naturally, their eyes aim in a relaxed, outward position, making it difficult for them to comfortable aim their eyes inward for long periods of time. As they fatigue, the eyes begin to float outward and aim slightly behind the target, causing them to see double. Often, this will cause the individual to supress an eye to maintain single vision or stop looking at the target all together.
Convergence Excess occurs when the natural posture of the eyes is closer in than required for near vision tasks. These individuals struggle to relax their eyes or tend to overaccommodate. When looking at near objects like print, they tend to aim their eyes in front of the target as opposed to the actual fixated position of it. The eyes will become fatigue as time goes on and symptoms will arise. In this case, they will see double, suppress an eye to maintain single vision, or stop looking at the target all together.
Signs of poor eye teaming skills include covering or closing one eye while reading to stop seeing double, inaccurate judgement of depth affecting sports performance, a decline in performance over prolonged periods of time while doing near work, a short attention span, eyestrain or headaches when watching 3D movies. If you believe your child is suffering from eye teaming problems, then visit your eye care professional for an examination so they can diagnose and prescribe the best treatment or vision therapy plan to help improve those visual skills.