Prism LensesThe use of prism lenses for behavioral and learning problems goes back to the 1970’s when optometric pioneers began using these tools at the Gesell Institute.

Prism lenses can be powerful temporary tools for individuals with autism and other developmental delays because they alter neural processing of the brain, creating an unconscious change in posture or attention. 

How Prism Lenses Are Prescribed

Counter to what many believe, lens prescribing is an art, not a science.

While a machine might indicate one Rx, that prescription might make a patient dizzy or nauseous.

Lenses are for particular purposes: to do a specific job, such as reading in the sun, or driving a truck in the rain at night.

Unfortunately, for most people, one lens cannot solve both problems. Different prescriptions are thus necessary, depending upon the task.   

Ophthalmologists use compensatory lenses to improve eyesight for specific purposes, such as those just described.

Most people reading this post are wearing compensatory lenses.

Optometrists, however, often use lenses not to correct eyesight, but rather therapeutically to correct vision.   

Some prescribe “learning lenses” or “training lenses” to give an individual with autism a new point of view.

These lenses may be used temporarily to give the brain a preview of what to expect, and eventually it can perceive differently without the lens.

However, motor experiences are necessary for consolidation and permanent changes in perception. 

How Prism Lenses Can Help

All lenses displace light. Single lenses address focal vision and help us see “What is it?”

Ambient prism lenses operate on the “Where is it?” function.

They deflect the light rays differently through a thin edge at the top and a thick edge at the base, influencing how the brain interprets where the body is in space.

Prisms are available in various magnitudes from “weak” to “strong,” which are measured in diopters.

The optometrist can change a patient’s perception by altering both the magnitude and the direction of the prism.  

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Related Pages

Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD and ADHD)

Autism and Vision

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Choosing a Developmental Optometrist


Learning Disability

Learning-Related Vision Problems

Lenses and Prisms

Parents Active For Vision Education: Visual Skills for Autism and Other Developmental Delays

Prioritizing Interventions for Autism, PDD-NOS, SPD and ADHD

Sensory Processing Disorder


Vision Affects Behavior

Vision Therapy

Vision Therapy for Autism, ADHD, SPD and Learning Disabilities

Vision Therapy for Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Vision Therapy from a Developmental Optometrist

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