Visual dysfunctions will often lead to headaches or eyestrain. When the visual system is overworked, it can lead to stress, which results in a mild to severe frontal headache. It can happen while reading, working at a computer, or other everyday reading-related tasks. These headaches can be due to poor eye teaming, eye focusing, or visual tracking skills.

An example of a common visual dysfunction is an accommodative dysfunction, which is the medical wording for an eye focusing problem.  An eye focusing problem is the inability to adjust the focus of the eyes to see objects at different distances. This inability can cause blurred vision, pain or discomfort from using the eyes. It occurs mostly while reading or on the computer, but can occasionally happen while driving and watching movies. It also includes problems such as blurred or strained vision when looking from the board to a book or looking up from the paper to the teacher. Another aspect of this dysfunction is the inability to focus and continue to seeing the words clearly over time. This skill is particularly important when reading for an extended period or taking standardized tests.

Accommodation problems are not the same as needing glasses. You may still have the focusing problem even if you have glasses.

Focusing problems generally are not muscle problems. The focusing muscles are strong enough to adjust focus, yet the ability to be accurate, efficient and controlled still breaks down. The focus gets “stuck” at one distance and can’t adjust to the next. This becomes evident during reading and computer work, and may make distance vision blurry. Note that as the focusing system breaks down, other vision problems can begin to appear. Eventually, headaches or eye strain occur and school or work performance suffers.

The first step is to get the correct glasses or contacts for sharp eyesight without strain. This is not a cure for accommodative dysfunctions, but does help many people.  If symptoms are not improved by glasses alone, further testing should be done by a developmental optometrist to diagnose remaining conditions. Vision Therapy could be required when the symptoms are severe enough. These individualized, office based vision therapy techniques retrain the person to adjust their vision in a relaxed way and to see comfortably again. Near point tasks can become easy.  The child often becomes interested in reading on their own.