What is Visual Processing?

Visual processing is a broad term used to describe how the brain interprets and responds to what the eyes see.  For example, when the eye's "see" the soccer ball moving in front of them - the image of the soccer ball gets transmitted from the front of the eye to the back of the eye (retina).  The photoreceptors at the back of the eye take the light signal and make a chemical signal that it sends down the optic nerve, through the brain to the

occipital lobe. The occipital lobe sorts the information and then sends it to the parietal lobe to process where the soccer ball is in relation to the person (spatial orientation/planning) and to the temporal lobe to process what the object (soccer ball) is (visual discrimination, visual memory, language, etc).  The parietal and frontal lobes then send the information to your frontal lobe to decide how it wants to respond to the visual image of the soccer ball - should kick it? Head it? Catch it?  Once it decides to kick the ball it sends the action signals to the cerebellum, brainstem, and parietal lobe to coordinate the arms, legs, and eyes to accurately kick the ball.  So in a visual task as simple as looking at a soccer ball, you actually need EVERY lobe of the brain.  You can imagine how many aspects of visual processing may be involved in a complicated task like reading or walking in a grocery store.  Any type of interpretation of the visual information that is done by the brain is called visual processing.

Sometimes patients can have normal visual acuity (20/20 vision), eye health and eye coordination and still have trouble with reading, writing, orientating themselves in space (clumbsy), or making sense of visual information in visually crowded areas or contexts.  These concerns are due to visual processing.  The visual processing evaluation assesses the specific visual processing skills of the individual to evaluate strengths and weaknesses and then make recommendations for rehabilitation and adaptation.

Dr Theis has extensive training and experience in visual processing evaluations in patients with brain injury as well as developmental (pediatrics) cases.  Please call us for more information

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