Vision Related Learning Issues Treatment

Edmonton Vision Therapy For Children With Vision Related Learning Issues

Many of the activities we do daily are often taken for granted. Activities such as catching a ball, reading words on a whiteboard, 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 skipping words or lines when reading, be unable to maintain focus, or have difficulty using both eyes together as a team. Vision therapy can 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 teach the patient’s brain and eyes to work together and improve vision functioning. It is very effective in helping those who struggle with reading, memory, focus, balance, spelling, 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.

View Our Symptom Checklist

Vision Issue Symptoms:

  • 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
  • Favours one eye over the other
  • Poor handwriting
  • Headaches or fatigue after reading or computer work

Who Benefits From Vision Therapy:

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

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 several exercises and other tests, the developmental optometrist will be able to determine which visual functions are affected and prescribe the appropriate treatment options.

Visit a Developmental Optometrist

A developmental optometrist treats 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 aim 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

Vision Problems Affect Children’s Behavior

Studies have shown that children with impaired vision are twice as likely as 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 behaviours:

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 for 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, that 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 in 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 the 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 favourite activities, squinting excessively, frequently rubbing the eyes, and having no interest in reading. These behaviours are sometimes blamed on stress or attention deficits but are most likely vision-related issues.

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 the visual skills necessary for successful development.

Children who struggle with reading are often labelled with a learning disability. In reality, your child may 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.

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 example, 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 skip 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 behavioural issues.

Optometric Vision Therapy For Children Misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD

Visual issues can also manifest as behavioural 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, they may have a functional vision problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does The Vision Therapy Program Work?

Vision therapy is comprised of individualized exercises where various lenses, prisms, filters, occluders and other specialty equipment are 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 for 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 can 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 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 help you interact with your environment. Functional visual skills include Eye Tracking, Eye Teaming and Eye Focusing, as well as Visual Information Processing.