Help for those who Struggle

Vision Therapist - EmilyThere is help for children and adults who struggle to read and learn because of poor vision skills. A developmental optometrist who specializes in children's vision can run a complete diagnostic workup to determine to what extent a child's visual skills are hindering school performance and prescribe vision therapy to correct the problems. Vision therapy is the science of remediating inadequate visual systems by improving function and performance. Vision therapy is highly successful, supported by decades of research and the testimony of countless parents and children whose lives have been changed when dysfunctional vision systems are restored to normal (see Efficacy of Vision Therapy Publication). Remove a child's stumbling block to learning, and you allow him the opportunity to succeed.

If you suspect your child may be struggling because of an undiagnosed vision problem, you may want to review the vision and learning checklist. The first step in helping your child is getting good information. To locate a qualified behavioral optometrist who provides vision therapy contact the national certifying board of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development at 1-888-268-3770 or visit their web site at http://www.covd.org. Also, your family optometrist can be a good resource. Ask if he or she provides vision therapy or if they can make a referral to a colleague who does.
Vision therapy is a series of treatment procedures prescribed by optometrists to improve certain types of vision problems that cannot be helped with only glasses or contact lenses. Vision therapy is much akin to physical therapy for the eyes, during which vision disorders are corrected to improve patients' visual function and performance.

Vision Therapy in ActionVision therapy treats vision problems children have when using their eyes up close, especially at school. Problems with tracking, eye teaming, and focusing make it impossible for children to read and learn. Vision therapy also corrects lazy eyes and crossed eyes, and this is done without the need for surgery. These vision problems are all types of disorders of binocular vision, meaning how we use our two eyes together. The science of modern vision therapy began in the 1930's and is supported by decades of research, not to mention the testimony of thousands of patients whose vision and lives have been improved. (Please refer to Efficacy of Vision Therapy for specific clinical support.)

Before a child can begin a vision therapy program, he or she must be seen by the doctor for a complete developmental vision evaluation and diagnostic workup. In addition to checking the child's eye health and sharpness of vision (visual acuity as measured by the eye chart), the doctor will complete a comprehensive assessment to evaluate the child's eye teaming, tracking, focusing, visual perception, and eye-hand coordination skills. A computerized recording of the child's eye movements during reading may also be taken. The doctor interprets the results of the exam, notes any areas of concern, and makes a recommendation for therapy based upon the test results.
Before the child begins therapy, the doctor will meet with the therapy staff and put together an individualized therapy program and set of treatment goals for the patient. This treatment plan is thoroughly discussed with the parents before the child starts therapy and every effort is made to answer their questions, including insurance coverage and available appointment times.
The child's vision therapy program consists of an individualized plan of treatment procedures using lenses, prisms, instrumentation, visual exercises, and occlusion meant to return the patient to normal vision. A trained therapist under the direction of the doctor works with the patient once or twice a week for a period from three to twelve months, depending upon the nature and severity of the patient's condition and how often the patient is seen in the office. Usually home therapy is also prescribed to reinforce the new skills the patient is learning at the doctor's office. Eye patching is often a part of the treatment program. The patient is regularly seen by the doctor for progress examinations as he or she proceeds through therapy and meets each set of treatment goals.