Vision Related Learning Issues

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Edmonton Vision Therapy For Children With Vision Related Learning Issues

Many of the activities we do on a daily basis are often taken for granted. Activities such as catching a ball, reading words on a white board, and tying our shoes all rely on our visual system to work properly. Whether we are aware of it or not, effective vision is dependent on our brain and eyes interacting correctly.

A person can have 20/20 vision, yet struggle with hand-eye coordination, have problems reading, diminished ability to focus, lazy eyes, convergence insufficiency and amblyopia. Vision therapy is able to address all of these conditions and effectively treat them.

What is Vision Therapy?

Optometric Vision Therapy or Developmental Optometry, is a doctor supervised program of individualized exercises and activities designed to retrain the patient’s brain and eyes to work together and improve vision functioning. Improving eye-tracking, focusing and eye-teaming ability, in addition to hand-eye coordination is the goal of vision therapy treatment. It is very effective in helping those who struggle with reading, memory, focus, balance, and many other vitally important visual tasks.

Vision therapy is effective in children and adults who want to improve their visual abilities. Contact Vision by Design’s vision therapist or Dr. Sarah Keep to see how you or your child can function better in day-to-day activities.

Who Benefits From Vision Therapy?

There are many people who have an undiagnosed vision condition that may be affecting their ability to learn and function in their daily lives. Vision therapy is able to help children and adults with conditions and symptoms related to:

  • Amblyopia
  • Strabismus
  • Convergence Insufficiency
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Learning Disability
  • Down Syndrome
  • Autism
  • Developmental Disorders
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Dyslexia
  • Anyone seeking to reach peak performance in sports (Sports Vision Training)

What Symptoms Should One Look Out For?

Educators and parents should look for these symptoms as they can be an indicator of a vision problem.

  • Lazy eye, cross-eye, double vision
  • Difficulty Reading
  • Poor classroom performance
  • Difficulty staying focused
  • Strabismus or “Eye Turn” (where both eyes are not aligned)
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Constant squinting/head tilting
  • Using fingers to read
  • Favors one eye over the other
  • Poor handwriting
  • Headaches or fatigue after reading or computer work

Optometric Vision Therapy for Strabismus. (Eye Turn or Cross Eye)

Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes. Instead of both eyes pointing at the same target one eye may turn in, out, up or down. Through vision therapy, strabismus can be effectively treated by helping to correct the misalignment of the eyes. Vision therapy trains the brain to merge the images seen by each eye making a single image. Eye teaming over a range of distances is also improved by strengthening the neural pathways using effective VT exercises.

Optometric Vision Therapy for Amblyopia.

Commonly referred to as “lazy eye,” amblyopia is a neuro-developmental condition. In this condition one eye has inadequate eyesight despite being perfectly healthy. If left untreated, amblyopia can strongly impact children’s school work, sports, and the ability to make friends.

It was once thought that patching the stronger eye was the only way to treat amblyopia. Unfortunately this approach is often met with significant resistance by the patient as wearing an eye patch can be very uncomfortable. Vision therapy is another method to improve the vision in the “lazy eye” through a variety of doctor specified and personalized exercises. These exercises are designed to help improve eye teaming, coordination, depth perception and reduce blurred or double vision caused by the brain suppressing visual information from the weaker eye.

How Does The Vision Therapy Program Work?

Vision therapy is comprised of individualized exercises where various lenses, prisms, filters, occluders and other specialty equipment is used to develop visual skills and processing.

Typically, a vision therapy program consists of weekly in-office sessions 40 minutes in length and daily at-home exercises. Depending on the severity of diagnosis, eye health and the patient’s compliance to daily exercises the vision therapy program can range from a few weeks to several months. The eye doctor closely monitors the patient to ensure noticeable improvements and positive changes to the patient’s visual functions and determines the length of the program.

How Long Does it Take to Start Seeing Results?

The time when one will begin seeing noticeable results varies greatly. Some patients can begin seeing changes early on and others it may take up to several weeks or months to see significant results. Results are dependent upon the severity of the condition, therapy regimen and adherence to daily exercises.

Is There an Age Limit to Vision Therapy?

The good news is that due to the brain’s neuroplasticity, there is no age limit to vision therapy. The more one practices, the more our visual function becomes better. Compliance is very important to the success of any visual therapy program.

Is Vision Therapy Covered by Insurance or WCB?

Vision therapy is not covered by your Vision benefits through your insurance. Patients are able to use health spending accounts or submit for a tax deduction. Some claims are eligible through various insurance programs if the visual issue is secondary to an injury.

Schedule a comprehensive vision therapy exam with Dr. Sarah Keep to see if you or your child can benefit from vision therapy to help with work, school and sports performance.

What Does a Developmental Optometry Exam Entail?

A comprehensive developmental optometry exam will test for the following:

Eye Teaming – ensuring one’s eyes work in tandem.
Eye Tracking – The ability to follow a moving object or written text in a book.
Eye Focusing – The ability to lock on an object near then switch and lock onto an object at a distance.
Visual Perception – assessing that the brain interprets what the eyes see properly.

By performing a number of exercises and other tests, the developmental optometrist will be able to determine which visual functions are affected and prescribe the appropriate treatment options.

Improved Vision Helps With Your Child’s Development in School and Life.

Developmental optometrists and vision therapists work with young children and infants to help them develop visual skills necessary for successful development.

Children are susceptible to injury while participating in sporting events, extracurricular activities or horseplay. Head injuries can cause vision and hand-eye coordination problems.

Children who struggle with reading are often labeled with a learning disability. In reality, your child may in fact have a vision problem that is making reading more difficult. Incorrectly diagnosing a child with a learning disability can have a negative effect on the child on an emotional and social level. Such effects can last well into adulthood.

Why Should I Consider Visiting a Developmental Optometrist?

Developmental Optometrists are optometrists that have taken specialized training that allows them to treat people with vision issues beyond what can be treated by traditional optometry.

Optometrists.

Optometrist in Edmonton and other parts of the world perform eye exams that evaluate a patient’s overall eye health. They can diagnose various eye diseases, prescribe medication for treatment and prescribe contact lenses and eyeglasses to correct vision acuity issues.

Developmental Optometrists are Different.

Developmental optometrists treat functional vision issues that affect binocular vision, eye movement, depth perception and visual problems affecting those with traumatic brain injuries or developmental visual deficiencies. A developmental optometrist will use comprehensive evaluations and tools to test for vision problems that may not be detected in a standard vision exam. Using a combination of prisms, lenses and vision therapy, developmental optometrists base their work on the principle that vision can be developed and improved. Their goal is to ensure patients can properly develop the visual skills that are necessary for academic achievement, sports performance or working comfortably on a computer.

At Vision by Design we desire to help people in the greater Edmonton area with optometric vision therapy to treat vision problems affecting:

  • Academic performance.
  • Stroke and head injury.
  • Sports performance.

How is Vision Therapy More Effective Than Eye Patching?

Amblyopia is a condition where the brain and eye are not working together. Commonly referred to as lazy eye, this condition results in decreased vision.

It was once thought that patching was the only method to treat amblyopia. Eye patching is very uncomfortable, thus compliance may be an issue. Furthermore, eye patching has limited results past a certain age and does not help a patient’s binocular vision and depth perception

Vision therapy can be much more effective in the treatment of amblyopia by combining a series of personalized exercises to improve eye coordination, depth perception and to reduce the brain’s suppression of visual information from the affected eye.

Schedule a comprehensive vision therapy exam with Dr. Sarah Keep to see how you or your child can benefit from vision therapy to treat amblyopia.

Research has revealed that amblyopia is a result of the brain’s inability to use both eyes together as a team. Thus, the brain ignores visual information from one of the eyes. This greatly affects depth perception, visual acuity , and also negatively affects one’s ability to read and drive a car.

It should be noted that a “lazy eye” is likely as strong as the other eye but is impaired by the brain ignoring signals from the amblyopic eye.

A child with amblyopia may not show any symptoms. We strongly suggest that your child undergo a comprehensive eye exam to identify if your child is at risk of developing amblyopia. The earlier amblyopia is diagnosed and treated, the more successful the outcome.

Improved Vision Helps With Your Child’s Development in School and Life.

Developmental optometrists and vision therapists work with young children and infants to help them develop visual skills necessary for successful development.

Children are susceptible to injury while participating in sporting events, extracurricular activities or horseplay. Head injuries can cause vision and hand-eye coordination problems.

Children who struggle with reading are often labeled with a learning disability. In reality, your child may in fact have a vision problem that is making reading more difficult. Incorrectly diagnosing a child with a learning disability can have a negative effect on the child on an emotional and social level. Such effects can last well into adulthood.

What is Eye Tracking?

Eye tracking is the ability to move both eyes together in a coordinated manner in order to follow an object visually as it moves or to track a line of text when reading. When a child struggles with this ability, it can affect various activities like reading, driving or sports.

Visual tracking issues in children present symptoms such as:

  • Visual tracking issues in children present symptoms such as:
  • Using a finger to keep their place on a page
  • Skipping words or whole lines while reading
  • Swapping words
  • Reduced reading speed or comprehension
  • Avoidance of near work
  • Poor coordination with sports
  • Having to re-read text

What is Eye Teaming?

Eye teaming is the ability to point both eyes together at the same target in order to see a single image. When we move our eyes from one target to another both eyes have to move in and out in order to point at the same spot in space. If a patient has difficulty with Eye Teaming skills they can have multiple symptoms including:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurry Vision
  • Double Vision
  • Words moving on a page
  • Skipping words when reading
  • Tilting head/closing an eye when reading
  • Avoiding near work
  • Reduced reading comprehension
  • Poor attention when reading

What is Eye Focusing?

Eye focusing is the ability to change how much your eyes are focused when looking at objects at various distances. Our eyes have to be able to relax together when looking far away, and they must focus accurately together when looking up close. If a patient has difficulty with Eye Focusing they will often experience symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Blurry Vision
  • Avoiding near work
  • Reduced reading comprehension
  • Abnormal working distance when reading
  • Reduced attention when reading
  • Avoiding near work
  • Blurry vision at distance after sustained near work

If the above conditions are left untreated, the symptoms may get worse over time making academic studies more challenging. It is extremely important to treat any visual deficiencies as soon as possible.

Vision Issues Can Cause Your Child to Have Poor School Performance.

When a child struggles with the visual skills necessary for learning it can affect their school performance. Visual tasks such as reading are often uncomfortable for children with vision issues so children will often avoid tasks rather than suffering discomfort. Because of this children tend to fall behind in their work and do not perform well in reading and writing assignments. Children may be able to use non-visual skills to mask some of their poor performance. For instance a child may be able to memorize their spelling list to perform well on spelling tests but cannot recognize when they regularly spell the same words incorrectly when they use them in a paragraph. Children often have slower reading speeds and take longer to finish homework and assignments. Visual issues make it extremely challenging to read accurately. Children may confuse similar words, read words out of order, or skipping lines of text altogether. Parents often complain that their child is smart in everything but school. The frustration that this causes in a child can often result in secondary behavioral issues.

Optometric Vision Therapy For Children Misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD

Visual issues can also manifest as behavioral issues. When a child has difficulty using basic visual skills they tire more easily and end up giving up on their assignments and may seem to be easily distracted. This can lead to an incorrect diagnosis of ADHD because children with functional vision problems often present similar symptoms to those found in ADHD. It is common for children with visual issues to fidget, squirm or regularly adjust their posture. They often rush through assignments to avoid discomfort resulting in careless mistakes. Children may get up from their desks or may have to be regularly reminded to do reading activities. To a parent or a teacher these children often appear to have ADHD.

If your child is having difficulty paying attention in school, do not automatically assume its ADD or ADHD, they may have a functional vision problem.

What is a Functional Vision Problem?

The set of visual skills that allows a person to gather and process visual information is what we call functional vision. Functional vision is how your eyes, brain and visual pathways accurately interpret information and helps you interact with your environment. Functional visual skills include Eye Tracking, Eye Teaming and Eye Focusing, as well as Visual Information Processing.

Vision Problems Affect Children’s Behavior

Studies have shown that children with impaired vision are twice as likely than their peers to be diagnosed with ADHD or ADD. When a child’s visual skills are not operating properly, they may display these symptoms and behaviors:

Difficulty paying attention in class.
Children with functional vision problems can find even regular classroom tasks challenging. Attempting to gather the visual information necessary to learn can be physically uncomfortable. This discomfort often leads to frustration, or the child may seem distracted or fidgety. Others may give up altogether and avoid reading in an attempt to avoid discomfort.

Difficulty reading.
Eye teaming issues can make the task of reading very difficult and uncomfortable on the eyes. Some children may push past the discomfort and read more slowly, others will rush through the material and make careless mistakes, and some will simply stop trying to read altogether.

Ignoring the teacher.
A child struggling with a functional vision issue has to work much harder than a typical student while attempting to focus on regular classroom activities. This results in the child having to focus their energy so intently, they may not be aware they are being spoken to as they have no energy left to process any other information. This may cause further frustration and cause them to act out inappropriately.

Lack of attention to details.
Children with functional vision issues tend to feel rushed as they struggle with near work before experiencing blurred or double vision, eye strain, or headaches. This results in the student skipping important details or making careless mistakes on their work.

Below average performance in sports or other physical activities.
Functional vision issues can make it difficult for children or adults to see a ball fly through the air or properly estimate their physical distance between themselves and others on a playing field. This can affect one’s confidence as they are assumed to be uncoordinated or clumsy.

Other symptoms that can be attributed to functional vision problems include avoiding favorite activities, squinting excessively, frequently rubbing of the eyes, no interest in reading. These behaviors are sometimes blamed on stress or attention deficits but are most likely vision related issues.

Vision Therapy Treatment For Lazy Eye

Optometric vision therapy is the preferred treatment for improving a patient’s binocular vision, visual acuity, visual processing, depth perception and reading fluency.

Vision therapy is doctor supervised and prescribed and consists of personalized exercises aimed at developing visual skills and processing. A vision therapy program comprises weekly in-office sessions coupled with a series of in-home daily exercises. Program length ranges from several weeks to several months. The length of program is dependent on the severity of the diagnosis, patient compliance and eye health.