SimplyBrainy » THE MIND and EYE


Experts understand that at least 80% of what we learn is learned through vision. A few experts have gone so far as to say that 95% of what we know is stored in the Brain either visually or heavily cross-linked into vision. None this is really new. Over 50 years ago, A.M. Skeffington, the father of modern developmental visual science, said:

“The (person) insecure in his visual state will be
a (person) insecure in his ego state.”

Extending this thinking, this means that any difficulty in visual processing will affect the development of Learning and of the Person. We find that we can address the visual processing problems with all the various tools of visual science.

Learning, Visual Function, and Emotional Problems

Does this mean that visual processing problems can cause learning and emotional problems? Well, yes and no (and also “occasionally”). There is a connection, but it doesn’t appear to be a direct one, as some professionals have misunderstood. Kaplan and Flach wrote articles showing a connection between visual performance, eye movement skills, and visual perception — as they termed their tests — with mental health problems.1-4 Their results were preliminary, but clinical practice and many case studies support the dynamics of the interventions that they use. Research will elaborate upon that connection.

Visual processing problems have a great tendency to frustrate the Brain’s drive to learn and that frustration easily becomes an emotional frustration, then often progresses to confusion, self-doubt, and more. Depression can be at the bottom of that downward spiral and anxiety is the constant companion of the whole process. If the visual grasp – the binocular stability – of the world is always threatening to fly apart, the real world can become an Alice-in-Wonderland world, with visual and conceptual relationships being difficult to compute or to rely upon.

The inability to focus visually and mentally can be reflected in a unique drawing test, the Rutgers Copy Test by Dr. Anna Starr. (Drawing tests have been used in psychology and its related fields for decades.) Because it samples high-order cognitive perceptual skills, it can be seen to reflect thinking disorders and problem-solving dysfunctions. Over the past ten years and more, the Rutgers has proven highly accurate in detecting problems where visual information processing is not adequately developed, which can result in misperception, confusion, anxiety and stress. The Brain just doesn’t properly “get” the messages being sent to it.

Visual problems often contribute to learning problems for these reasons, and also can be frustrating and disorienting enough to lead into the realms of anxiety and emotional disturbances.

What Can The Learning Clinic do, and How?

Through a dynamic, full-scope, proper visual examination, along with certain standardized perceptual tests, a determination can be made as to whether visual processing problems are contributing to academic, work and related emotional problems. A complete learning skills workup may be recommended.

The interventions may include lenses, prisms, visual and/or proven perceptual therapies – all – may be a part of the process in beginning the healing, often quite rapid, when a proper diagnosis has resulted from the workup. The reasons why these interventions work are neurological, not optical. These visual tools mentioned above form one category of the five known avenues of change in Brain function. (The others are drugs, surgery, training/re-education, and biofeedback.)

Will this type of investigation and intervention help you or your student? It’s quite possible. That’s why you are being referred to this office for a screening. The screening lasts 90 minutes and may lead to a complete workup if the screening reveals processing problems. These evaluations are very frequently reimbursed by insurance.

I look forward to becoming part of the team to help you or your student.

Please feel free to call for a telephone consult to answer any additional questions that you may have.


Flach FF, Kaplan M, Bengelsdorf H et al. Visual Perceptual Dysfunction in Patients With Schizophrenic and Affective Disorders Versus Control Subjects. J Neuropsych.. 1992;4(4).
Flach FF, Kaplan M. Visual perceptual dysfunction in psychiatric patients. Compr Psych. 1983 Jul-Aug;24(4):304-11.
Carmody DP. Flach F, Kaplan M, et al: Abnormal saccadic eye movements as part of a functional visual spatial management disor­der in psychiatric patients. Proceedings of the 6th European Confer­ence on Eye Movements, 1991.
Frederic F. Flach, Resilience: How to Bounce Back When the Going Gets Tough. Hatherleigh Press. NY, NY (Paperback – May 1997).
Bowan, MD. Introducing the binocular dissonance test. Optometry. (In redraft, Spring 2011)

Patient Comments

Decreased frustration. Sleeping better. More relaxed. Major behavioral and reading [changes] in just 9 weeks. More cooperative. Nail biting has decreased. We…have a completely different child. (5 therapy sessions.)
She appears to be putting herself on a routine, and following thru with tasks without being told. She seems calmer. (10 weeks office/home therapy.)
B.’s confidence has gone up (her self-esteem is improving). She has been bringing home A’s and B’s. She has been scoring a lot higher than they had anticipated. (20 weeks of home therapy.)
Understanding directions better, speech has improved. Better grades, not complaining that he can’t keep up. (5 weeks home therapy.)
E. is a happier person. She is proud of her accomplishments and much more self confident. (5 weeks of office/home therapy.)
P. is more confident & outgoing. Not shy anymore. (14 weeks office/home therapy.)
He has become more confident in his own abilities and has raised his grades significantly. (5 weeks office/home therapy.)
Not stuttering as much. More calm, less frustrated. (10 weeks office/home therapy.)
M. has become more engaging in conversation. He is extremely articulate and involved. His piano playing and golf game have im-proved substantially. (10 weeks office/home.)

© 2011 - 2018 Merrill D. Bowan, O.D. All rights reserved


Powered by WordPress