Luck of the Finnish: Dr. Lea Hyvarinen

I ordered this book, sight unseen, for one primary reason:  I’m excited that Lea Hyvarinen, MD, PhD, FAAP, is going to be lecturing at this year’s annual meeting of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), and I wanted to gain an updated sense of where she was professionally.  Okay, perhaps there was another reason.  I was intrigued by the four leaf clover on the front jacket.  Kind of reminded me of Skeffington’s four circles.  Communication and Interaction could be Speech/Language.  Orientation and Moving could be Centering and Anti-Gravity.  Sustained Near Vision Tasks could be Identification.  Activities of Daily Life could be … well, we’re out of circles.  I Googled the book’s contents and thought, wow — there’s no way I could be disappointed with ordering this!  Forget the four circles.  This four leaf clover has to be good luck!  And so it was, when the book arrived, that it did not disappoint.

In seminars I give to OTs, PTs, SLPs ,and educators, I make the distinction between optometrists and ophthalmologists rather easily by differentiating structure and function.  I have always cited one strong exception to my own generalization, and that is Dr. Lea Hyvarinen, a behavioral/developmental pediatric ophthalmologist.  It is so foreign to use those words in succession, as they verge on oxymoronic.  The only pediatric ophthalmologist that I have encountered who can hold a candle to Hyvarinen’s behavioral/developmental approach was Dr. Mary Sheridan in England, an innovator well-known for STYCAR procedures.  In similar fashion, Dr. Lea Hyvarinen is best known for her LEA Test System.

Just to whet your appetite for what’s in the book, here is a table that Dr. Hyvarinen and co-author Namita Jacob, Ph.D. use clinically to create a profile  of a child’s visual and vision-related functions. functions.  N is normal or near normal; I is imparied but useful; and P is profound impairment or loss of function.

The table follows Dr. Hyvarinen’s model for the various visual functions as follows:

• Fixation, Saccades, Accommodation, Following
• Strabismus, Nystagmus, Head and body control
• Refractive errors, corrective spectacles and devises

• Visual acuity, near (single, line, crowded), distance, Grating acuity
• Contrast sensitivity, optotype and grating tests
• Colour vision, Visual adaptation to changes in luminance level, filter lenses
• Figure in motion, Biological motion, Perception of motion at high speeds
• Visual field, size and scotomas, Goldmann, flicker, automatic, campimeter

• Perception of length and orientation of lines and objects
• Figure-ground, object-background, stereovision, Vernier acuity
• Short time visual memory, matching colours

• Details in pictures, Noticing errors and missing details, Perception of textures
and surface qualities
• Recognition of familiar and unfamiliar faces, Facial expressions, Body language
• Landmarks, Concrete objects, Pictures of concrete objects
• Abstract pictures of objects of different categories, Abstract forms (letters, numbers)
• Reading words and lines of texts, Optimal reading strategy
• Comparison with pictures in memory, ‘Reading’ series of pictures
• Visual problems in copying pictures from blackboard and/or at near
• Crowding effect, Scanning lines of text

• Awareness of surrounding space, directions and distances in space, Body awareness
• Perception of near and far space, Orientation in space, map based, Memorising routes
• Motion perception, Depth perception, Simultaneous perception
• Eye-hand coordination, Grasping and throwing objects, Drawing, free hand,
• Copying from near/ from blackboard, motor planning and execution

3 thoughts on “Luck of the Finnish: Dr. Lea Hyvarinen

  1. Sounds as though she should be a very interesting speaker. Are you sure that she is a pediatric ophthalmologist? I seep that she is a pediatrician.


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