One Out of Every Four Children Has a Vision Problem Interfering With Their Learning.
Charlotte and Gaston Counties Vision Therapy Specialists
Complete Eye Care offers the only residency trained Vision Therapy program in Gaston County. Under the guidance of Dr. Ashe our Vision Therapy program has helped adults and children from Gaston County and Charlotte to transform the way they process visual information. There are numerous definitions of vision therapy, but my favorite comes from the Optometric Extension Program (OEP):
“Vision therapy is a series of exercises and activities designed to improve the function of the visual system.”
There are 17 visual skills that comprise the visual system.
It is important that people perform these visual skills efficiently and accurately in order to interact optimally with their surroundings. Vision therapy helps to improve, and sometimes teach or re-teach, visual skills.
What Is Vision Therapy?
Vision therapy is a custom tailored program that trains the brain and the eyes to work together when processing information. While glasses and contacts compensate for a vision problem, Vision Therapy teaches the patients visual system to auto correct. Doctor supervised Vision Therapy programs have been shown to be extremely effective across many studies.
What To Expect:
Vision Therapy is similar to physical therapy in that the program depends a lot on the progress of the patient. Normally the length of a program will range between 4-10 months and will require in office visits either once or twice per week. In addition to the office training the patient will be expected to do 15 minutes of exercises daily at home.
Who Needs Vision Therapy?
If you or your child experiences:
- Difficulty reading
- Difficulty focusing on visual tasks
- Headaches or eye strain from visual activities
- Frustration with school work
- Double Vision
- Vision that is not corrected with glasses or contacts
What Visual Dysfunctions Contribute to Learning Related Vision Problems?
- Eye-tracking skills (eyes staying on target)
- Eye teaming skills (eyes working in synchronized fashion)
- Binocular vision (blending images from both eyes together at the same time)
- Accommodation (eye focusing)
- Visual Motor Integration (hand-eye coordination)
- Visual perception (Visual memory, visual form perception, directionality)
What Symptoms Can You Look For?
Even Just One Of These Signs Or Symptoms Can Indicate That You Or Your Child Has An Undetected Vision Problem.
- Frequent loss of place when reading
- Skips or re-reads lines/words
- Avoids reading or tasks that require near vision
- Confuses similar looking words
- Reports words jump, wiggle, or run together when reading
- Difficulty copying from the board
- Poor handwriting
- Poor spelling
- Poor reading comprehension
- Letter or word reversals
- Holds reading material closely
- Inconsistent or poor sports performance
- Covers or closes one eye
- Squints or rubs eyes excessively
- Eyes turn in or out
- Head tilting or turning
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Red, sore or itchy eyes
- Eye discomfort
- Light sensitivity
- Short/decreased attention span
- Smart in everything but school
Dr. Hilary Gesford
Dr. Gesford is a residency trained developmental optometrist specializing in Pediatrics and Vision Therapy. She is an associate member of The College Of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) pursuing her fellowship. She welcomes adults and children for comprehensive eye exams as well as sensorimotor and visual perception evaluations.
Many vision problems do not require surgery for correction. In these situations, vision therapy is typically an option. Vision therapy is a form of physical therapy used on the eyes and brain. It is designed to resolve vision problems that can contribute to learning disabilities. This therapy can also be used an effective treatment for problems like lazy eye, crossed eyes, or double vision.
Common Questions about Vision Therapy
There is more to vision therapy than simply strengthening the eyes. It also enhances the neurological connections between the eyes and the brain. Eyes are the windows of the brain. It directly influences sight based on how it interprets images received. A healthy connection between the eyes and the brain is essential for good eyesight.
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the nature of vision therapy:
How does vision therapy work?
It uses progressive vision exercises performed under the supervision of your eye care provider. Each set of exercises is tailored to meet the individual visual needs of a patient. These exercises are done 1-2 times per week in sessions lasting 45 minutes to 1 hour. The exercises are designed to continue until visual processing problems show improvement.
Who benefits from vision therapy?
If you or your child have problems in any of the areas listed below, you could benefit from VT. 20/20 does not equal perfect vision. Reading the 20/20 line on an eye chart simply means your child can see what’s considered to be normal at 20 feet away. The eye chart is NOT able to identify any problems with the following key components of vision:
- Eye focusing (needed for viewing at near)
- Eye teaming
- Eye tracking
- Depth perception
- Processing of visual information
- Eye hand coordination
- Eye turn (strabismus)
As much as 80% of all learning for children occurs through vision.
Problems with any of the above components of vision can lead to difficulties with learning. Children with visual based learning problems are often misidentified as lazy, slow, or having ADD/ADHD.
What is the purpose of the vision exercises?
Vision exercises are designed to help patients improve basic visual skills that connect the eyes with the brain. These exercises can improve visual efficiency by changing how a patient interprets images. This helps them see and understand images correctly.
Do these exercises simply strengthen eye muscles?
Nothing about vision therapy is centered on strengthening eye muscles. These muscles can be strengthened through orthoptics if they need strengthening. This therapy is all about improving vision problems that may interfere with learning by strengthening the neurological pathways between the eyes and the brain.
What is the first step in a vision therapy program?
A comprehensive vision exam is necessary before starting therapy. Following the exam, your eye care provider can determine whether or not this type of therapy is the recommended treatment for your vision problems.
Is there scientific evidence that it really works?
It does work. Studies on vision therapy show it is effective in improving the lives of patients. Data shows that this therapy can improve visual function enough to keep it from interfering with a patient’s ability to absorb information and learn. In its own sphere, this therapy is as effective as physical therapy or occupational therapy.
Who typically needs vision therapy?
It can be a useful tool for helping children and adults alike. Children with learning or reading problems can benefit from the vision boost these exercises provide. Eyeglasses are not the solution when the problem is visual processing. These problems can’t be detected without tests done by an eye doctor. Adults can see vision improvement through this therapy as well. It can help curb eye-strain related vision processing problems brought on by working with computers all day.