The visual system: How does it affect posture?
The visual system is one of the most critical components when it comes to one’s posture and overall health. Therefore it is important to identify whether or not ones visual system is functioning properly, particularly at a young age.
So what is the visual system?
The visual system of any species is a sensory system which uses light in order to perceive the environment and surroundings. The start point of the visual system would be the eye, the function of which being forming images within the eye through refraction. The eye is made up of multiple parts, but the parts that assist within the actual production of an image include the cornea, pupil, retina, and the optic nerve (Atchison, 2000).
In simple terms the lightwaves enters the eye through the cornea where light is refracted, passes through the pupil and finally reaches the retina. However, arguably the most important part of the eye is the retina, as this is the part of the eye that forms an image. The visual information that is formed within the retina is then transported to the vision centres of the brain, by the optic nerve via electrical impulses (Zhu, 2012).
How does the visual system affect ones posture?
The visual system is the primary receiver of sensory information, therefore playing a pivotal role in maintaining postural balance, more importantly head posture. Head posture patterns are constantly reliant on the correct function of both the vestibular and visual systems. These systems aid in keeping one’s eyes parallel to the environment while at the same time keeping the head perfectly upright (Wade, 1997). Failure or inability to see and control eye movements often results in chronic postural distortion patterns.
This failure or inability to control eye movement is particularly important in children; therefore children with visual impairments often have issues with both posture and balance. It is essential that parents identify whether or not their children have visual impairments, as this would contribute to poor posture, decreased level of confidence and a lower quality of your children’s wellbeing.
How can one identify whether or not their child has issues with their visual system?
There are various ways you as a parent can identify if your child has visual impairments. Here are some signs to look out for that could help you identify whether or not your child has issues with their visual system:
Squints or moves forward when trying to focus on something.
Eyes are misaligned (look crossed, turn out or don’t focus together).
Have white or greyish pupil colour.
Eyes flutter quickly up and down or side to side.
Eye pain, itchiness or discomfort.
Pus or crust on the inner eye.
Eyes that are predominantly watery.
Eyes that seem as though they are extremely sensitive to light (HealthyChildren.org).
The visual system, as previously emphasized, is an exceptionally important part of the human body therefore it's critical to ensure that you evaluate your children’s visual system to make sure your child isn’t suffering from visual impairment. If none of the above is identified while evaluating your child, take an extra step and watch how your child places their head and neck. You might identify that the placement is unnatural which can create muscle tension in the shoulders, head and neck leading to poor head posture. Overtime, this can create maladjustments which decrease blood flow to the impulse connection of the eyes (integraleyesight, 2020).
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Atchison, D. A., Smith, G., & Smith, G. (2000). Optics of the human eye (Vol. 2). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Zhu, J., Zhang, E., & Del Rio‐Tsonis, K. (2012). Eye Anatomy. eLS.
Wade, M. G., & Jones, G. (1997). The role of vision and spatial orientation in the maintenance of posture. Physical therapy, 77(6), 619-628.
HealthyChildren.org. Warning Signs of Vision Problems in Infants & Children. [Online]. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/eyes/Pages/Warning-Signs-of-Vison-Problems-in-Children.aspx [Accessed 17 February 2020].
Integraleyesight. 2020. Vision and Posture. [Online]. Available at: https://integraleyesight.com/vision-and-posture/#:~:text=Once%20vision%20is%20affected%20by%20poor%20posture%20and,toward%20imbalance%20or%20spiral%20upward%20toward%20optimal%20functioning [Accessed 17 February 2020].