Children and adults can benefit from Vision Therapy. A neurobiologist, Dr. Susan R. Barry, author of Fixing My Gaze, talks about the benefits of Vision Therapy. She is a professor of neurobiology in the department of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College. Dr. Barry was cross-eyed as a baby and after three childhood surgeries, her eyes looked straight but she did not gain stereo vision, or 3D vision. At age 48, Dr. Barry received a program of optometric Vision Therapy that was prescribed by her developmental optometrist, and eventually taught her to see in 3D.

 

In the November 4th, 2010 issue of the Journal of Vision, a study showed that perceptual training can greatly improve vision in the elderly. The elderly lose skills such as depth perception, spatial vision, and contrast sensitivity. The study showed that after just 2 one hour sessions of Vision Therapy, subjects were able to improve their vision significantly for up to three months after the therapy was finished.

 

Many people that suffer from a head injury or stroke (commonly called an acquired brain injury) experience vision disorders. In many cases, these disorders are ignored and/or neglected because it is believed that nothing can be done to treat the conditions. This is simply untrue! In recent years, it has been proven that vision therapy plays an important role in the rehabilitation of those patients with visual disorders.

 

Vision and Learning

It is estimated that about 80% of what we learn is through our seeing. Seeing is our dominant sense and helps in gathering information and learning. Vision problems can have a significant effect on how we learn. Many children who experience difficulty in school may have a visual dysfunction in addition to their primary learning dysfunction. These visual conditions are treatable.

Visual problems are very common with autistic patients and can include lack of eye contact, side viewing, staring at spinning objects or light, and difficulty fixating with their eyes. Autistic patients often use visual information inefficiently and cannot coordinate their central and peripheral vision. They will look to the side of the object instead of directly at the object when tracking.

 

Many autistic patients are tactually or visually defensive. Tactually defensive patients are over stimulated easily through touch and may cause the patient to be always moving and wiggling. Visually defensive persons avoid contact with specific visual input and may have difficulty fixating and frequently rely on a constant scanning of visual information in order to gain meaning from it.

 

Testing of the autistic patient is done while wearing special lenses. For example, observations of the postural adaptations and compensations as the patient sits, walks, stands, and does some physical activities to determine how he/she can see and therefore be helped.

 

Depending on the testing results, lenses to compensate for refractive errors such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness (with or without prism), may be prescribed. Vision therapy for autism can be prescribed to stimulate general visual arousal, enhance visual movement skills, and the central visual system. Vision therapy can organize visual space and gain peripheral stability so that the patient can fixate with the central vision and gain more efficient visual skills and visual information processing.

 

ADD/ADHD & Vision

Undetected/untreated vision problems can elicit the same signs and symptoms that are commonly associated with ADHD.

 

New Research in Vision and ADD/ADHD

A recent study by the researchers at the Children’s Eye Center, University of San Diego, uncovered a relationship between convergence insufficiency and ADHD. Children with convergence insufficiency, a common vision disorder, are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children without the disorder.

 

25% of children may have a learning related vision problem.

 

A significant percentage of children with learning disabilities have some type of visual dysfunction. One study uncovered that 13% of children between the ages of 9 and 13 suffer from moderate to marked convergence insufficiency. As many as 1 in 4, or 25%, of school-aged children may have a vision problem that can affect learning.

 

Dyslexia and Vision

It is possible that a learning related vision problem can be misidentified as dyslexia because there are similarities between the two. It is more common that children with dyslexia also have a visual component that complicates their difficulties. When a child is struggling with reading and learning, it is important to rule out the possibility of a vision problem. Optometric Vision Therapy for ADHD treats vision problems that could possibly interfere with reading or learning.

 

According to Dr. Debra Walhof, a pediatrician and parent advocate for the National Center for Learning Disabilities,

“It is important to remember that normal sight may not necessarily be synonymous with normal vision…That being said, if there is a vision problem, it could be preventing the best tutoring and learning methods from working. Now that certainly doesn’t mean every dyslexic child needs vision therapy, however in my opinion, skills such as focusing, tracking and others are essential foundational tools for reading. In general, if your child has trouble with reading or learning to read, getting a vision evaluation to assess these skills from a qualified Developmental Optometrist

 

Reading, Writing, and Vision

Reading and writing are two of the most common tasks performed at a desk job or in school. Any time we read from a book, a computer monitor, or a sheet of paper, we are performing a visual task. When we read, we need to:

  • Aim our eyes at the same point simultaneously and accurately
  • Focus our eyes to clear the reading material
  • Sustain clear focus
  • Move our two eyes as a coordinated team equally and accurately across a line of print

 

When writing, we start with an image in our mind and then we code it into words. At the same time, we are moving the pencil continuously to make sense of the written material. We focus our eyes and then move them together as a team, just as in the reading process.

 

Complicated visual procedures are involved with reading and writing. A problem with any of the visual parts described above can interfere in some way with reading or writing. In addition to Optometric Vision Therapy, there are other options of vision therapy for ADHD that will help remedy this problem. If you or a loved one is experiencing any reading or writing issues, please set up an appointment with us. (Link to set up appointment).

 

Brain Injury/Stroke and Vision

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 1.4 million Americans suffer from a traumatic brain injury every year. Vision problems are fairly common after a brain injury, meaning the brain and eyes are not functioning properly together. If you have suffered any head injuries, vision therapy for brain injury and prompt treatment is crucial.

 

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury (Stroke) or Acquired Brain Injury

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Words appear to move when reading
  • Difficulty with comprehension
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty with attention
  • Headaches associated with visual tasks
  • Reduction or loss of visual field
  • Difficulty with eye movement skills

 

These visual problems can be decreased, or in many cases eliminated, with vision therapy for brain injury and neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy and corrective lenses, such as prism lenses.

 

Symptoms of Neglect Due to Loss of Visual Field from a brain injury

  • Cannot scan in the area of visual loss
  • No awareness that there is a visual loss
  • Reports loss of vision on the side of neglect
  • Bumps into things on the side of visual loss and doesn’t learn to compensate
  • Misses part of the eye chart or words when reading on the side of neglect
  • Tendency to turn head or body away from the neglect

 

3D and Vision

Perceiving depth in 3D is a more sensitive test than the standard eye chart that has been used for the last 150 years. Lack of 3D viewing means both eyes cannot function in a coordinated manner, converge (align the eyes inward), focus and track the 3D image.

 

BBC News stated, “A study of the impact of 3D in the classroom has found that it improves test results by an average of 17%.”

 

The AOA recommends seeing an optometrist for further evaluation if you answer yes to any of the following questions:

  1. Do you experience eyestrain or headaches during or after viewing?
  2. Do you feel nauseated or dizzy during or after viewing?
  3. Are you more comfortable viewing 2D TV or movies instead of 3D TV/movies?
  4. Is it difficult for your eyes to adjust back to normal after watching 3D TV/movies?
  5. Do other people seem to be enjoying the 3D viewing experience more than you?