Monthly Archives: August 2014

Will Vision Therapy Make Your Child a Better Reader?

Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center
offers Vision Therapy in Olney, MD near Silver Spring.

Vision therapy is a treatment program designed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies. You can think of vision therapy (sometimes called vision training) as something akin to physical therapy for the visual system–your eyes and brain.

If a child is struggling to read because of a learning disability, dyslexia, developmental delay, or attention deficit disorder, vision therapy is not the answer.

However, many parents, teachers, occupational therapists, and even family eye doctors, are unaware that the signs and symptoms of visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies often mimic other common childhood challenges to reading.

If your child has an undetected vision problem, reading can be difficult, and vision therapy can help.

An eye movement disorder may cause your child to reverse letters, skip lines or words, or strain to maintain focus. A visual processing problem may cause your child to confuse words, be unable to recall words they just learned or read, or be unable to create a mental picture in their mind of the material they are trying to comprehend.

Successful vision therapy requires following an intensive individualized program. Each session will include procedures that are designed to enhance the brain’s ability to effectively control learning-related functional vision problems, such as eye tracking (smooth movement), eye teaming (coordinated movement), eye focusing, or visual processing deficiencies.

The visual functions and abilities that vision therapy treats come as second nature to people without vision problems. For example, if a child already moves and focuses his eyes easily without extra effort, vision therapy exercises aren’t going to help him read better. But if a child is straining to keep his eyes focused and turned correctly, vision therapy can improve the child’s ability to read.

In vision therapy, a patient uses specialized computer and optical devices, including therapeutic lenses, prisms, and filters, to develop greater visual-motor skills and endurance.

As the patient makes progress, during the final stages of therapy, their newly acquired visual skills are reinforced and made automatic through repetition and by integration with motor and cognitive skills.

Vision Therapy Success Story 6

Watch this webinar to learn more about how vision affects learning and discover how a vision problem may be interfering with your child’s ability to read.

The only way to determine if vision therapy would help your child become a better reader is to have him or her undergo a comprehensive vision exam by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

For vision therapy in Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment.

Reading Problems in Children

How to Tell if Reading Problems in Children are Caused by Undetected Vision Problems

Getting to the bottom of what’s causing reading problems in children can be challenging. Parents and teachers often turn to the usual suspects: Is it a developmental disorder? Dyslexia? A learning disability? An attention deficiency?

Even reading specialists, counselors, and occupational therapists rarely suspect a vision problem to account for reading problems in children. If a student has passed a vision screening at school or with a family eye doctor, most educational professionals are trained to believe 20/20 eyesight rules out the possibility that a vision problem could be to blame for reading difficulties.

A typical eye exam only tests for clear vision at a set distance for a short period of time. But reading requires close, focused eyesight for a sustained period of time, smooth and coordinated eye movement, and the efficient processing of information through the visual system.

If this is news to you and you thought a typical eye exam eliminated the need for more testing, you’re not alone. There is simply a lack of awareness that reading problems in children are sometimes caused by undiagnosed vision disorders.

But unlike dyslexia or learning disabilities, which children can learn to cope with but cannot be cured, many learning-related vision problems can be treated successfully with vision therapy.

Signs that reading problems in children are caused by a functional vision problem include:

Frequent headaches:

If your child has difficulty reading and also frequently complains of headaches from reading, the headaches could be caused by strain due to vision problems, such as convergence insufficiency, amblyopia, or poor visual processing skills.

Dizziness while reading:

If your child struggles with reading and also complains of dizziness while reading, this could be due to accommodative dysfunction, eye tracking problems, or poor convergence or divergence skills.

Reversing letters:

If your child has trouble reading and also reverses letters when writing, it might not be dyslexia. Children with visual processing problems commonly confuse their left with their right.

Messy handwriting:

If reading is a problem for your child and your child also has messy handwriting with crooked or poorly spaced letters and words and an unusual pencil grip, this might indicate an eye tracking or eye teaming problem.

Symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD):

If your child reads below grade level and also seems distracted, restless, has trouble staying on task, or causes disruption in class, it might not be what you think. These behaviors that mimic attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) may be due to frustration caused by vision deficiencies.

Difficulty copying from the board:

Does your child struggle to read and also seem to have trouble copying from the board, despite 20/20 eyesight? Copying from the board at school is particularly difficult for children with accommodative dysfunction, oculomotor deficiency, poor eye teaming, or visual processing problems.

Trouble with watching 3-D movies:

If your child can’t read well and also has trouble watching 3-D movies, this could indicate a potential vision problem.  To properly see 3D effects in movies, strong binocular vision is necessary. If your child has poor binocular vision with amblyopia or lazy eye, the effects will not be visible or may cause motion sickness.

These are only few of many possible symptoms that could indicate that a child’s reading problem is related to a vision problem

Click here for 9 signs your child may have an undiagnosed vision problem.

To learn more about how vision affects learning, watch our free pre-recorded webinar here.

The only real way to determine if reading problems in children are caused by a visual deficiency or disorder is to schedule a comprehensive vision exam by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

If your child is diagnosed with a learning-related vision problem, it can be treated successfully within a short period of time with an intensive individualized vision therapy program.

To schedule a vision exam and consultation with a developmental optometrist, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center. Services include vision training or vision therapy in Olney, MD, near Silver Spring.