Seeing is Behaving

How do you, personally, react when, for example, you’re walking on an uneven surface? How about at night? Whether it’s familiar or not, there’s a level of caution, right? Maybe you hold on to a wall or walk at a slower, more hesitant pace. Perhaps you’re looking down and holding your arms out to keep from wavering, steadying your balance.

I know this experience would certainly not be for everyone, but I once took an entire yoga class blindfolded. At first I was so uncomfortable I wanted to crawl out of my own skin. As I settled into my body and became more aware of the sounds around me, I was able to leave the lead sense, vision, behind. I felt more comfortable moving within the space. We were guided off our mats and around the room. Careful not to bump into a neighbor, I had to TRUST all of my other senses and soften my physical stance, becoming less hard and harsh. When I took the blindfold off, after about an hour, everything around me looked so bright, vibrant and vivid with color and texture. I was much more aware of the physical space and where I stood within it. My eyes began to tear up, joyful tears welcoming my sight back! What a GIFT!

Since having started working at Dr. Semenza’s Behavioral Optometry, I certainly don’t take my vision for granted. I’ve learned so much about how important it is for the eyes to be working together, and I deeply understand what a gift this is.

How does how we “see” things affect our behavior…

  • as children (visual and motor development, reading at grade level, social skills, coordination, spatial perception)? Around four months of age, an infant’s nervous system is becoming more organized and complete. During this phase s/he will also begin to develop binocularity, the ability to use both eyes together. This ability makes it possible for him/her to guide his curious little hands to the things s/he wants to grasp and examine in his expanding world. Would you recognize if it was unusually difficult for your child to reach for the Cheerios in front of him/her? If not, how would the child react? S/he would most likely become frustrated and upset. Over time, that frustration would only grow…
  • as adolescents (sports, reading, social skills, posture, confidence, homework)? As a young adult, if the above scenario was not treated effectively, how do you think gym class will go—catching a ball, running through an obstacle course?
  • as adults (driving, reading, using devices, posture, habitual behaviors)? And IF both of the above scenarios are not treated, what happens when a dog darts across your path as you’re driving home from work?

So, can we actually LEARN to see or increase this ability to do so?  The answer is a resounding YES! When the eyes are trained to work together, to really fixate on the target beforehand, and the body can adjust to the space in which you see all of this, your world becomes a safer, happier place.

Cheers to the GIFT of seeing–
Meredith