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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 6, Lesson 3

Anatomy of the Eye

The eye is an organ that contains several structures. These include an anterior chamber, lens, and a posterior chamber known as a globe. The globe contains fluid called the vitreous, and the rear or back of the globe is called the retina. The eye operates like a camera allowing light and visual images to be recorded on the retina (like the camera's film).

close up of baby's eyeThe anterior chamber contains the focusing part of the eye that focuses light on the retina, which is actually the seeing sense organ. The muscles of the eye bend the lens to focus the light differently. The iris, or the colored portion of the eye visible to others, is a structure made up of tiny ciliary muscles that open and close the opening of the lens, called the pupil, to control the amount of light that is allowed into the globe. The eyelid also assists the iris in controlling the amount of light. The image that is seen on the eye surface or retina is then transmitted via an electrochemical signal to the visual cortex of the brain. The visual cortex assists in the interpretation of the visual image to link it to the experience. This is called visual perception or perceptual function.

Visual Impairment

Visual impairment may be a result of damage to the structure of the eye or even a congenital absence of the eye(s) known as anophthalmia. Visual impairment or blindness can also be caused by damage to other areas of the visual system such as the visual tracts or visual cortex.

Some diseases relating to structural abnormalities of the eye include glaucoma that can affect the anterior chamber of the eye, corneal opacities, cataracts on the lens, and retinal problems such as retinopathy of prematurity.

All eye problems should be referred to an ophthalmologist who is a medical doctor specializing in the care and treatment of diseases and conditions of the eye. The Florida Department of Health is encouraging eye specialists to use the Eye Specialist Report for all children with eye conditions under the age of 3 years. The ITDS can assist in this process by providing a copy of the report to the specialist when he/she knows that a child is being referred for vision testing. The ITDS can also be alert to children who

  • Continually rub their eyes.
  • Appear sensitive to light.
  • Do not reach for toys at the appropriate age.
  • Do not track or follow objects.
  • Do not blink in response to visual threat such as a hand passed before their face.
  • Stare continually at a light.

Children who exhibit some/all of the above may be in need of a vision assessment. It is quite possible that they meet the Part C Criteria Specifying Visual Impairment

 

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