Vision Is Not Just 20/20: How Vision Therapy Could Change Your Life!

| February 28, 2017

By Dr. Robert Fox, Developmental Optometrist and Elizabeth Levy, Vision Therapist

As our office phone rings, with a potential new patient on the other end of the line, our staff member takes a “triage sheet” out of the drawer. More times than not, it is a parent who is asking “Does my child sound like they have a learning-related vision issue?”. We hear similar stories day in and day out. The parent on the line is desperate to find out why their extremely bright child is struggling in school. Many of the children whose parents are calling have been told by the school nurse or pediatrician that their child’s visual acuity is 20/20. Many children are able to pass a brief visual screening. The children are able to cover one eye and read E…F…P…T…O…Z and then cover the other eye and repeated the process. The assumption is made that even though a child is struggling with reading, arguing when it comes time to do homework, and showing symptoms of many other learning problems, it cannot be a vision issue. It must be something else, right? Maybe not.

As many as 1 in 4 children, have a learning-related vision issue. Symptoms can vary from child to child, but some of the most frequent symptoms include: skipping or re-reading words or lines, poor reading comprehension, schoolwork taking much longer than it should, letter or word reversals (i.e. mixing up b and d, was and saw), difficulty copying from the board, and poor fine/gross motor coordination. Some children are even labeled as lazy, diagnosed with ADHD, or seen as simply having behavior problems because of their short attention span or inability to focus. A behavior problem may also present itself if the child is avoiding the task that is uncomfortable for them due to a vision problem.

Children with learning-related vision problems may have more obvious signs such as holding a book very close or covering one eye while reading. They may also complain of headaches or burning eyes. Others may move their head back and forth while reading rather than moving their eyes, or fatigue quickly during schoolwork. Vision screenings check each eye individually, but do not test the eyes ability to work well together. For some children, the print may be blurry, doubled, or appear to move. Think of this for a moment… how would a child who has always seen words as doubled or blurry know that this is not what every other child sees?

What can be done if any of these signs or symptoms describe your child? Your child could be best helped by a Developmental Optometrist (also called a Behavioral or a Neuro-Optometrist). An Optometrist with this intensive training uses a holistic, integrated way of treating the visual system. A full evaluation with a Board Certified Developmental Optometrist includes not only eye health and clarity, but also includes testing of the many visual abilities that can affect reading, learning, and attention. If necessary, your child can return for further testing of their visual perceptual skills which includes: their visual memory, spatial discrimination and hand-eye coordination.

Once your child has had a complete comprehensive visual evaluation, a program of care can be prescribed. Some children need special lenses to reduce the stress on their visual system. Others may benefit from Syntonic (light) therapy which has been used clinically in the field of optometry for over seventy years. Many children further benefit from in-office Optometric Vision Therapy. Vision Therapy is an individualized program of care designed to treat visual skills deficiencies. Typically, this therapy involves 45-60 minute sessions once per week. Your child would work with a therapist to improve the various developmental skills needed for reading, learning, and attention. Throughout the program, we see children improve, grow, and reach their full potential. It truly changes their lives and how they see the world. At Fox Vision Development Center, we are overjoyed to hear about improved grades at school or about the child that now asks to be taken to the mall to buy a new book.

Please visit our NEW website at www.foxvisiondevelopment.com to read our success stories! Feel free to call our office at 374-8001 to schedule a comprehensive visual exam or to learn more about the benefits of vision therapy. Dr. Robert Fox is located at 1202 Troy-Schenectady Road in Latham, NY and is accepting new patients.

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