|The Gemstone Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, dedicated to helping all people achieve visual efficiency through research and service.
Visual efficiency is important for many activities of everyday life. When the eyes move accurately and effortlessly across a page, for example, reading becomes easier. Good eye coordination improves sports performance, too. People who do any kind of close work, whether with computers or crochet needles, can perform that work better if their ocular control is efficient – that is what we mean by Visual Efficiency.
The control of eye muscles is just like the control of other muscles in your body. People are not born knowing how to read, or how to move their eyes to read. These neuromuscular skills must be learned. And as with any other skill that involves learning, some people learn faster than others. If children do not develop the necessary visual skills to meet the challenge of smaller text and larger information content as they progress from elementary to middle school – or about by age 10 – then academic work can suffer.
Gemstone’s mission is not only to help children in school learn to use their eyes in the most efficient manner, but to help anyone who faces challenges that demand active, dynamic visual system response: college students whose eyes feel fatigued at the end of the day, pilots who have to constantly scan the skies, ball players whose livelihoods depend on seeing the ball, computer users, lawyers, anyone who spends long hours in visually demanding work falls under our mission.
We are especially concerned with helping people who otherwise would not have access to visual skill development programs: children in low-income or low-performing schools; juvenile offenders; people in adult literacy programs.
Gemstone’s research projects have shown that training visual skills works; people’s ocular control improves and reading improves as well. We have demonstrated that poor readers tend to have poor visual skills and poor tracking ability. We continue to investigate ways to detect visual skill problems quickly and effectively, and to provide proper medical and Optometric referrals. We continue to work on binocular vision with our collaborators in Japan, where myopia is a serious problem, and with post-LASIK patients, when binocular vision has become a problem with them.
Gemstone’s research mission is to understand the relationship between visual skills and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Our ultimate goal is to uncover the neural mechanisms that provide the best information to the brain via both eyes.
An important part of our mission involves the social enterprise model: we sell our products to those who wish to use them, and then we use the proceeds to provide the same products to those who need to use them but cannot afford to pay. And we use the proceeds to support more research so that we can better inform the public.