Did you know that your child could see 20/20
yet still have poor vision?
Just because your child can see clearly 20 feet away does not mean he/she can visually process information 14 inches away. Many kids are diagnosed as problem learners, attention-deficit, or hyperactive, when actually the culprit is vision-related.
Undetected, underlying vision disorders can cause difficulty for children with reading, learning, sports, and attention span.
HOW EASILY CAN YOU READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGE?
Do you find that reading this is difficult? Frustrating? Did you want to quit? Statistics show that four children in every classroom in every city in America may see printed words this way. These children can’t control their eye movements at reading distance, and as a result they see blurred or double print. Is it any surprise that these children are not doing well in school?
For children who struggle to read or find it difficult to remain on task, the cause may be an undetected vision problem, even if their eyesight is 20/20 and they’ve passed the school’s vision screening. In fact, many of these children are often suspected of having learning disabilities, dyslexia, or attention deficits when the real culprit is their vision. Each year, thousands of children suffer needlessly and struggle unnecessarily from undetected vision problems that can make school and life difficult. In addition, children with crossed eyes and lazy eyes face especially demanding challenges. Children with poor visual skills may struggle to read, have short attention spans, perform poorly in sports, develop low self-esteem, and have doors closed to many career opportunities as adults because of poor visual skills.
WHAT IS VISION THERAPY?
Vision therapy is a highly effective, non-surgical treatment for many common visual problems such as lazy eye, crossed eyes, double vision, convergence insufficiency, tracking problems, and some reading and learning disabilities. A successful vision therapy program can change how a patient processes or interprets visual information and can also help a patient develop or improve fundamental visual skills and abilities.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN A VISION THERAPY PROGRAM?
The first step in any vision therapy program is a comprehensive pediatric eye exam. Following a thorough evaluation, the patient is then advised as to whether a developmental vision exam should be administered in order to determine if vision therapy would be appropriate treatment. The developmental vision exam is an extensive battery of tests which assess a broad range of visual skills other than acuity or refractive status. These skills include oculo-motor function, visual/perceptual skills, visuo-motor skills, focusing ability, binocular status, etc. Once testing is completed to evaluate and determine specific visual barriers the patient may be experiencing, the doctor can then prescribe a specific vision therapy program based on their individual needs and deficiencies.
Vision therapy is a progressive program of vision “exercises” or procedures performed under doctor supervision and has been individualized to fit the visual needs of each patient. Therapy sessions are conducted in-office, typically once a week for one hour with a vision therapist. In-office therapy sessions are supplemented with procedures done at home between office visits (“homework”) and computer software. Progress is monitored by the doctor and vision therapist at in-office therapy sessions, and the patient’s individualized treatment program is adjusted based on improvements made and any continuing deficiencies which require further development.
HOW DO I KNOW IF VISION THERAPY CAN HELP MY CHILD?
Good vision is more than “20/20.” There are numerous other important visual skills that children need to in order to be successful in school, such as:
Acuity: The ability to clearly and comfortably see both near and far as in reading a book or the chalkboard.
Sustained Focus: The ability to maintain a steady focus for a long time at a close distance, as in reading or writing.
Eye Tracking: The ability to move eyes smoothly and accurately, such as moving from word-to-word or following a thrown ball.
Eye-Teaming: The ability of the eyes to work together to see one image as in following a line of reading without fatigue, double vision, or headaches.
Eye-Hand Coordination: The ability to move the hand to what the eyes see, such as handwriting or playing a musical instrument.
Visual Perception: The process that allows us to understand what we see such as the shape, size, color, or directions of an object, letter, or word.
In other words, an eye chart can’t determine how well a child can team or coordinate their eyes at the close distances required for reading, or how well they can track a line of print without losing their place; nor how well they can adapt to focus changes from near to far distances, or how well they can understand and make sense of what they see. Children can have good visual acuity (20/20) and still have serious problems in these other areas. Below are signs for parents to look for:
* Frequent headaches
* Squinting one or both eyes/covering one eye
* Short attention span or daydreaming
* Placing head close to book or desk when reading or writing
* Complains of nausea or dizziness when reading or writing
* Difficulty copying from the chalkboard
* Reads below grade level
* Using their finger to follow a line of print when reading
* Red or watery eyes when reading
* Needs a lot of breaks during homework
* Complains of blurred, double, or moving print
* Reverses letters and numbers past the first grade
* Homework takes a long time
* Seems frustrated with school
* Has difficulty catching or hitting a ball
* Avoiding reading or close-up tasks
* Skipping, turning around, or confusing words when reading
* Losing their place when reading
* Poor eye-hand coordination skills
* Writing up or downhill/ poor handwriting
* Sees worse at the end of the day
* Trouble comprehending what they’re reading
* Tires quickly when they read
* Easily distracted, finding it difficult to remain on task
* Difficulty with taking tests
* Suffers from eye strain
* Fails to complete assignments on time
* Appears to be unmotivated or lazy at school
* Shows symptoms of attention deficit disorder
If your otherwise bright child exhibits one or more of the symptoms listed above, is struggling in school or sports, or experiencing difficulty with reading and/or comprehension, a comprehensive pediatric vision exam is the first step to determine if further developmental vision testing and vision therapy is the next step. Call our office today to schedule an appointment and find out if vision therapy can help your child.
GOOD VISION IS MORE THAN JUST 20/20
VISION THERAPY LINKS OF INTEREST TO PARENTS
For more information about vision therapy, check out the following links:
- www.covd.org The home page for the College of Optometrists in Vision Development
- www.oepf.org The home page for the Optometric Extension Program Foundation; vision therapy educational information for parents and teachers
- www.optometrists.org Excellent site about vision and vision therapy and success stories
- www.childrensvision.com A great site about visual conditions, vision therapy, and success stories
- www.children-special-needs.org A very informative site about children’s vision disorders and vision therapy
- www.pavevision.org Parents Active for Vision Education (PAVE), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to informing the public, parents, and teachers about children’s vision problems
- www.vision3D.com A great interactive site with information on binocular vision and vision therapy
- www.visiontherapy.com Lots of good information on vision therapy and success stories