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can vision therapy be done at home

Can vision therapy be done at home?

The Visual Learning Center offers
developmental optometry & vision therapy
near Silver Spring, MD in Olney.

Vision therapy is a treatment program designed to correct visual-motor and visual perceptual-cognitive deficiencies that interfere with learning. You can think of vision therapy (sometimes called vision training) as something akin to physical therapy for the visual system. Vision therapy helps children with learning-related vision problems develop or improve visual skills, abilities, and efficiencies.

The only way to properly diagnose a learning-related vision problem is by undergoing a comprehensive vision screening by a developmental optometrist trained in functional vision care. 

In a comprehensive vision screening, the doctor will use equipment such as prisms and Visigraph infrared monitoring devices that are not used in routine eye exams. During the exam, they will test for visual skills including:

  • visual perceptual or visual processing skills such as visual discrimination, visualization, and visual memory
  • accommodation facility (focusing)
  • lateral vergence facility (lateral eye alignment and speed)
  • vertical vergence ranges (vertical eye alignment)
  • eye movement while the child is reading or answering questions that require comprehension

If your child is diagnosed with a vision problem, an individualized vision therapy treatment program, under the supervision of a specially trained optometrist, can significantly improve or correct the visual deficiency.

At the Visual Learning Center, which offers vision therapy in Olney, Maryland, patients are prescribed an intensive program to treat their specific diagnosis. Each individualized program includes sets of exercises and activities to be done under the guidance of a trained vision therapist who monitors and tracks progress.

In-office sessions provide a controlled environment in which adjustments are made as needed. Some vision therapy exercises can be done at home; however, relying only on self-prescribed eye exercises can lead to eye-strain, discomfort, irritability, nausea, and exacerbation or regression of symptoms. So use caution, be patient, and monitor the child closely.

We strongly encourage patients who are under the care of a trained optometrist to supplement a personalized program or in-office treatment with additional practice at home.

The following vision therapy exercises can be done at home:

Discrimination Orientation Arrows (DOA) is a vision therapy exercise that develops visual discrimination — a skill essential in determining correct letter orientation.  

Children with poor visual discrimination skills tend to reverse letters, so this exercise mimics the process of selecting a direction for each letter while writing.  With practice, they will begin to catch mistakes faster and more easily, reduce the frequency of errors, and dramatically boost their self-esteem.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of the Discrimination Orientation Arrows activity in progress. Download your own activity board here.

 

The Stickman Activity aims to improve eye movement skills and visual processing skills.

Doing this activity can improve laterality and directionality, which are skills required for reading, writing and recognizing direction and orientation of words and letters. This activity can also improve figure-ground perception, which is necessary to distinguish an image or text relative to its context or background. Additionally, the activity can enhance visual concentration, which is a skill that allows the eyes to fixate attention for a long enough period of time to read and comprehend.

Watch the video below for a demonstration. Download your Stickman Activity packet here.

 

Letter Tracking Activities are designed to improve eye movement skills and visual processing skills.

Visual discrimination is a perceptual process that involves the ability to correctly identify basic features of a visual stimulus, such as text. Discrimination enables a child to see and identify shape, size, orientation, and color.

Poor visual discrimination skills cause a child to skip letters or words when reading and have problems with laterality and directionality.

Watch the video below for a demonstration. Download a Letter Tracking Activity packet here.

 

The letter tracking activity is useful to reduce writing and common reading problems caused by poor visual discrimination.

For vision therapy in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact us for an appointment.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.

child with visual memory problem

Visual Memory Problems in Children Can Interfere With Learning

The Visual Learning Center offers
developmental optometry & vision therapy
in Olney, Maryland near Silver Spring.

Visual memory is the ability to look at an object, create a mental image for that object, and hold that picture in your mind for later recall and use. If your visual processing system is functioning as it should, this process happens automatically and without extra effort. However, some people have a visual processing disorder or deficiency that affects their visual memory and can interfere with their ability to read and learn.

Eighty percent of what we learn is visual; so being able to visually picture and remember what we see is a necessary skill.

Click here for 9 Signs Your Child May Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem

When a child learns to read, they are taught to look at a word, recognize letters and individual strings of letters as words, and then create mental images for the letters and words — each with its own unique shape to which they assign sounds and associate meaning. Then they hold those images in their mind to recall and retrieve for later use. This process happens continuously as a child learns.

When we read, we put words and phrases together with visual images to conceptualize meaning. Once the visual information is taken in through the eyes, the process of comprehension has only just begun. Next, the brain runs the information through the process of visual perception to extract the information and use it.

If we can see pictures in our mind and form a clear mental image of what’s taking place in the text as we’re reading, it enables us to instantaneously recognize words, imagine a sequence visually, and then comprehend it all.

Imagine how difficult it would be for a child to learn and understand if they lacked the ability to store and recall mental images efficiently. If a child has difficulty processing and storing visual information in their short-term memory, they will have to learn the same information repeatedly and they will progress slowly.

For example, if a child was not able to properly input and store the mental image of his spelling words, that child will struggle to recall the correct string of letters to spell it correctly on a quiz. If a child studies for a test and seems to be prepared the night before, they may not be able to recall the information and recognize the answers at test time.

Signs that your child may have a visual memory problem include:

  • Studying for a test, seeming prepared the night before, and performing much lower than expected.
  • Learning a new word and not recognizing the word a short while later.
  • Difficulty remembering their own phone number or address.
  • Trouble recalling details in a story or the order of events.
  • Struggling to use a keyboard or calculator. Kids these days are whizzes at typing and texting, but your child slowly hunts for each letter, number, and character.
  • Reversing letters, such as b and d or p and q, because they may recall the shape but not the correct laterality or directionality.

A student with a healthy visual memory function has the ability to learn and recall a new word after being exposed to that word only one time or a few times. However, if a student has a visual memory disorder they may need to see the word many times repeatedly before they can possibly retain it.

This does not mean the child is less intelligent than their peers. It simply means they are lacking in the ability to create and retain a mental image. It is a skills deficiency that can be improved significantly with vision therapy.

A typical routine eye exam will not detect a deficiency in visual memory. So if you suspect that your child has a visual memory problem, schedule a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care and vision therapy.

Without training in visual memory skills, the child will continue to have difficulty learning. The good news is, with an individualized vision therapy program visual memory skills can be improved. By undergoing vision therapy, the child will complete activities that are created to enhance their memory and develop their ability to recall the visual information they take in more readily.

Click here for vision therapy success stories.

For a comprehensive vision exam and vision therapy in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact Dr, Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment today.
Register for an upcoming webinar here.

Post-concussion functional vision problems in children can disrupt learning

The Visual Learning Center offers
developmental optometry & vision therapy
in Olney, Maryland,  near Silver Spring.

Many youth sports-related head injuries, such as concussions, interfere temporarily with how the brain works. Often, the interference is mild and the child makes a complete recovery, but sometimes there are lasting problems. You may be aware that concussions in children can pose serious health risks; but did you know that even a minor concussion can cause long-term functional vision problems that often go undetected?

Studies have found that the number of youth concussion diagnoses have risen sharply in recent years and we have seen growing awareness and concern about the dangers of brain injuries in youth sports. Research has also revealed that a high percentage of youth diagnosed with concussions struggle with resulting functional vision problems.

Concussion-related symptoms of functional vision problems include:

  • Double vision
  • Blurred near vision
  • Trouble focusing the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain and fatigue
  • Loss of eye alignment
  • Memory loss
  • Balance problems
  • Poor depth perception and spatial orientation

Post-concussion complications can include lasting functional vision problems that disrupt learning. The good news is functional vision problems–even those caused by injury–can be treated successfully with vision therapy.

Functional vision refers to how we see information and how we process that information through our brains in order to help us interact with our environment. Your child needs strong functional vision skills to focus and move their eyes accurately and efficiently, including eye teaming, eye tracking, and accommodative (focusing) skills. A concussion-related functional vision problem occurs when these functional vision skills are impaired as a result of a head injury.

Eye teaming problems:

Eye teaming, or binocular vision skills, refers to the ability for two eyes to work together as a team. When a head injury causes damage that prevents both eyes from moving precisely in the same direction at the same time, reading, writing, and activities such as copying from the board at school can become difficult. Children with eye teaming problems experience visual fatigue and tire quickly, which also interferes with learning and school performance.

Accommodative dysfunction:

Weak accommodative facility refers to difficulty with visual focus. If the focusing mechanism in a child’s visual system has been damaged by a head injury, it will slow down their ability to adjust as they look from one point of sight to another. This can be challenging and frustrating when reading pages of text, copying from the board, or completing assignments out of a workbook.

Oculomotor dysfunction:

A child with oculomotor dysfunction, also referred to as an eye tracking problem, caused by a head injury will strain to accurately and efficiently control their eye movements. Whereas in people with healthy visual systems, eyes move somewhat smoothly, in people with damaged oculomotor skills, the eyes will jump or skip around the text. They have to struggle to point the eyes in the intended direction. Children with eye tracking problems tend to lose their place often and fall behind or make errors.

If you suspect that your child has a concussion or traumatic brain injury, seek emergency medical care immediately. After your child has rested and recovered from the immediate effects of concussion, you may notice lasting symptoms. The only way to diagnose functional vision problems resulting from a concussion is to schedule a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

The goal of vision therapy for children with a brain injury is to restore visual function with intensive rehabilitative vision care. At Dr. Philip Nicolson’s Visual Learning Center, we have a strong track record of successfully restoring or significantly improving visual function among our brain injury patients. Contact us to schedule an appointment in our Olney, Maryland office, convenient to Silver Spring.

What Appears to be a Learning Disability Could Be Cured With Vision Therapy

Learning disabilities and vision disorders or visual deficiencies share common signs, symptoms and behaviors. While a learning disability cannot be cured or fixed, common vision problems in children that are often mistaken for learning disabilities, can be successfully treated and cured with vision therapy.

Having 20/20 eyesight does not rule out vision problems that interfere with learning. Watch this video to learn more about the relationship between vision and learning.

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that indicates a person’s brain is “wired” differently. Children with learning disabilities are no less intelligent than their classmates, but they may have difficulty learning through conventional teaching methods. A child with a learning disability may struggle with reading, writing, math, organizing information, memory, or with reasoning skills.

Examples of learning disabilities include auditory processing disorders (difficulty understanding spoken language), dysgraphia (difficulty with writing), dyslexia (difficulty understanding written language), dyscalculia (difficulty with math problems and concepts), and nonverbal disabilities (difficulty with spatial and facial cues).

Each type of learning disability presents unique challenges; and if the disability is identified early enough, children can be taught using different approaches and taught specific skills to cope and even thrive.

Learning-related vision problems may present almost identically to some learning disorders that can be significantly improved or even eliminated permanently with vision therapy.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may reverse, transpose, invert, or mix up letters or words when reading and writing.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may appear restless, fidgety, or distracted in a classroom setting or while doing homework.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may have poor coordination or fine motor skills.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may struggle with reading, writing, spelling, comprehension, and memory.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may perform below grade level on standardized tests or perform more poorly than expected on exams.

Both a child with a learning disability and a child with a vision deficiency may be exceptionally bright or gifted but also struggle in school.

If you or child’s teacher suspect a learning disability, you’ll want to rule out a treatable vision problem. Your child might not need to learn differently. Instead, your child may need to undergo a treatment program to train and reinforce vision skills, with lasting results.

The only way to rule out a vision problem is with a comprehensive vision exam by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

For functional exam and vision therapy in Olney, Maryland or Silver Spring, schedule an appointment with Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.

behavior problems in children

Can Vision Therapy Improve Your Child’s Behavior Problems?

Does your child have behavior problems, and you just can’t seem to figure out why? What many parents and educators don’t know is that sometimes behavior problems in children are caused by undetected vision problems that can be successfully treated with vision therapy.

Even if a child has 20/20 eyesight, vision deficiencies can interfere significantly with learning. And when a child struggles to learn and complete tasks that are easy for classmates, they grow frustrated, distracted, and may act out or display coping behaviors that appear to be common childhood behavior problems.

To learn more how vision can affect learning and behavior, download our free guide here and watch our pre-recorded webinar here.

You may get frequent calls from your child’s teacher, and perhaps you’ve even met with counselors about their behavior. But despite disciplinary actions or positive reinforcement, the disruptive behavior continues, seemingly undeterred.

Issues that contribute to a child’s behavioral problems can be as varied as hereditary factors, malnutrition, allergies, physical illnesses, or instability at home. Behavior problems in children have many possible root causes–environmental concerns, abuse, cries for help, emotional problems, developmental delays, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD),  obsessive compulsive disorder, and much more.

Parents and educators rarely suspect a vision deficiency  because there’s simply little awareness about how vision problems affect learning and behavior in children.

Signs or symptoms often attributed to behavior problems that may be caused by a vision disorder include:

  • Antsiness or fidgeting
  • Getting up from seat at inappropriate times
  • Talking during instruction or distracting classmates
  • Inability to stay on task or complete work
  • Defiantly refusing to do assignments or to take a turn reading in front of the class
  • Disruptive behavior or “acting out”
  • Deflecting blame or making excuses
  • Social awkwardness, missing social cues about politeness and personal space, and trouble getting along with peers

Children with vision deficiencies often don’t know they have a problem, or they are not able to articulate it. They think everyone else sees and processes information the way they do, and they don’t know why things are difficult for them. Their eyes get tired, they get headaches, and they are constantly straining to do even the simplest tasks, such as read a line of text or copy from the board.

Vision exams by your family eye doctor typically only test for vision clarity. As long as a child can clearly see and identify the letters on an eye chart, he can pass the exam with 20/20 vision or get prescribed corrective lenses. The exam usually doesn’t test for eye movement, eye coordination, or visual processing problems.

The only way to determine if your child’s behavior problems are caused by a vision problem is to schedule a comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

The good news is, learning-related vision problems that affect behavior can be treated successfully with vision therapy. Many parents notice significant lasting behavioral improvement within a few short months of intensive vision therapy.

If you’re located in Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD and you suspect that your child may have a learning-related vision problem that affects behavior, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment today.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.

vision therapy exercises to do at home

3 Vision Therapy Exercises to Improve Common Reading Problems

 

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

Common reading problems in children can be traced to a number of possible causes, including learning disabilities, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorder. However, one cause that is often overlooked is vision. An undetected functional vision problem could be the reason a child is struggling to read.

Click here for instant access to a webinar on how undetected vision deficiencies could be the reason behind common reading problems in children.

The good news is, unlike other diagnoses, learning-related vision problems can be treated and improved significantly in a short period of time with Vision Therapy. Vision Therapy is a treatment program that includes procedures and exercises designed to enhance a child’s ability to control eye movement and visual processing.

At the Visual Learning Center, which offers vision therapy in Olney, MD, a developmental optometrist and team of trained vision therapists provide individualized intensive treatment programs designed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies in children.

Visual processing skills and eye movement can be developed and reinforced by practicing a prescribed set of exercises and activities that a child will do under the guidance of a trained vision therapist.

Patients at the Visual Learning Center are encouraged to supplement in-office treatment with additional practice at home, which we’ve found to enhance our vision therapy success stories.

To be clear, vision therapy will not help your child with reading difficulties if your child does not have a vision problem The only way to determine if your child’s common reading problem is caused by a vision deficiency is to undergo a comprehensive vision screening by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care. If your child is diagnosed with a vision problem, your doctor will prescribe an individualized intensive treatment program.   

The following activities are vision therapy exercises are intended to supplement in-office care to improve common reading problems and learning-related vision deficiencies:

Discrimination Orientation Arrows (DOA) is a vision therapy activity that develops visual discrimination, which is a skill essential in determining correct letter orientation and preventing letter reversals among students with learning-related vision problems.

This activity seeks to mimic the process of selecting a direction for each letter while writing.  “Should d point right or left? Should b point left or right? Which direction should I write q? Which direction should I write p?”

Watch the video  below to see a demonstration of the Discrimination Orientation Arrows activity in progress. Download your own activity board here.

 

With practice, the outcome children enjoy from the discrimination arrows activity is that they begin to catch mistakes faster and more easily, reduce the frequency of errors, and dramatically boost their self-esteem.

The Stickman Activity aims to improve eye movement skills and visual processing skills.

Doing this activity can improve laterality and directionality, which are required for reading, writing and recognizing direction and orientation of words and letters. This activity can also improve figure-ground perception, which is necessary to distinguish an image or text relative to its context or background. Additionally, the activity can enhance visual concentration, which is a skill that allows the eyes to fixate attention for a long enough period of time to read and comprehend.

Watch the video below for a demonstration. Download your Stickman Activity packet here.

 

Letter Tracking Activities are designed to improve eye movement skills and visual processing skills, such as discrimination.

Visual discrimination is a perceptual process that involves the ability to correctly identify basic features of a visual stimulus, such as text. Discrimination enables a child to see and identify shape, size, orientation, and color.

Poor visual discrimination skills cause a child to skip letters or words when reading and have problems with laterality and directionality.

Watch the video below for a demonstration. Download a Letter Tracking Activity packet here.

 

The letter tracking activity is useful to reduce writing and common reading problems caused by poor visual discrimination.

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

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.

Oculomotor Dysfunction: Does your child skip words or lines while reading?

Have you noticed that your child often skips words, sentences, or even several lines of text when reading? Parents often assume this happens because the child isn’t interested or trying hard enough–that they are distracted, lazy, or rushing through their work. When a child struggles to read, you might suspect skipping words is a sign of impatience or frustration with challenging and unfamiliar words.

However, in some cases, if a child is skipping words or losing his place when trying to read, this could point to oculomotor dysfunction–specifically, poor eye tracking skills–which can be treated with vision therapy.

Learn more about how vision affects learning by watching this pre-recorded webinar for parents.

A child with an eye tracking problem strains to efficiently and accurately control eye movements. Oculomotor dysfunction causes the eyes to jump or skip erratically, rather than move along a line of text smoothly. You may not notice the irregular eye movement upon observation, but even subtle eye movement deviations can make it difficult to read and write without strained effort.

Eye tracking is a very complex process and involves many different areas of the brain. Even with a normal healthy visual system, when we read,  eye tracking movements are not smooth scans of the text from left to right. Properly functioning oculomotor movements occur as a series of “jumps” and “fixations” on certain points across the text.

With each pause and fixation, we take in either a whole word or part of a word during the brief moment our eyes are stationary. We then decode and send the word through our visual processing system. Then our eyes fixate on the next word, briefly, to decode and process it.

If we have normal oculomotor abilities, we’re able to control the eye tracking process without concentrated effort, moving our eyes mostly in a left to right manner across the page, jumping from word to word, sentence to sentence, and around the text as needed. We rarely skip words or lose our place.

But if your child is struggling with oculomotor dysfunction, he or she need to use a finger, ruler, or pencil to avoid losing his place. Reading becomes challenging and tiring, because it requires strained effort to simply follow along the text.

An eye tracking problem tends to become more pronounced as reading requirements progress and paragraphs get longer, usually in third or fourth grade. If a child is continuing to skip words or sentences, he may have to read and then re-read a paragraph repeatedly before absorbing it in its entirety; so reading comprehension performance slows.

Additional signs of oculomotor dysfunction or poor tracking skills include:

  • Transposing words or letters when reading and writing
  • Using a finger or guiding device to avoid losing place
  • Complaining that text moves or jumps on the page
  • Difficulty accurately catching, throwing, or hitting a ball when playing sports
  • Becoming disoriented when eyes move from the end of one line of text to the beginning of the next line of text
  • Excessively moving the head or paper to follow the text while reading

To learn more about signs and symptoms of functional vision problems, download our free guide 10 Things You Need to Know About Vision here.

If you suspect that your child may be struggling to read due to oculomotor dysfunction, also known as poor eye tracking skills, get a comprehensive functional vision exam by a developmental optometrist.

The good news is, eye tracking skills can improve significantly in a relatively short period of time with vision therapy.

Click here to read vision therapy success stories.

For vision therapy in Silver Spring or Olney, Maryland, click here to schedule a functional vision exam with developmental optometrist, Dr. Philip Nicholson.

A Vision Disorder Could Be to Blame for Your Child’s Frequent Headaches Even With 20/20 Eyesight

Does you child often complain of headaches? Headaches in children can stem from a wide range of causes; so if your child does get frequent headaches, you should consult your pediatrician to rule out serious conditions.

But one often-overlooked cause of headaches in children is treatable. Children with undiagnosed functional vision problems commonly get headaches, and functional vision problems can be corrected with vision therapy.

You might be thinking your child is in the clear if he or she has 20/20 eyesight or wears corrective lenses. Most parents are aware that nearsightedness (myopia) and farsightedness (hyperopia) can cause headaches in children, but typical eye exams and school vision screenings do not test for many common vision problems that often cause headaches.

In children, many tension headaches are caused by eyestrain or eye fatigue that is exacerbated by underlying vision problems.

Convergence insufficiency is a medical condition in which the brain has trouble accurately, efficiently, and comfortably coordinating the eye muscles to see properly for a prolonged period of time at reading distance. People with Convergence Insufficiency find it difficult to keep their eyes working together smoothly as a team, and their eyes tend to drift outwardly when attempting to focus on text or other items at a near distance. Children with a healthy visual system are able to aim their eyes naturally and easily. If a child has convergence insufficiency, he will struggle to aim his eyes, and the extra effort causes fatigue and headaches.

 

Straining to read when the text looks like this can lead to frequent headaches in children with vision problems.

Accommodative (focusing) dysfunction is when a child has trouble using the eye muscles efficiently to bring an object into focus clearly and to maintain focus for a sustained period of time. The muscles that focus the lenses in our eyes have to adjust quickly and often to see various points of visual interest clearly, or sustain that clear focus without vision becoming fuzzy or blurred. If a child is getting frequent headaches, it may be due to the constant strain of trying to focus his eyes–something that comes naturally and automatically to his classmates.

Amblyopia (lazy eye) is a condition that causes reduced vision in one eye. During development, something prevented normal and healthy connections between the child’s eyes and brain; and the deficiency causes the brain to suppress images from the affected eye and favor the other eye. As you can imagine, the unaffected eye becomes overused and strained, which can lead to frequent tension headaches.

Poor visual processing skills can also cause headaches in children. Visual processing is comprised of a complex system of neurological activity. Many children lack good visual processing skills due to a delay in development or a vision disorder. These children have trouble computing visual input, leading to problems with visual-motor integration and speed, visualization, visual memory, and more. The extra effort they need to put forth to learn and complete tasks can cause stress and tension headaches.

For a child with a vision problem, use of technology can contribute to eyestrain and headaches. Many children spend little time resting their eyes; because in addition to school work, they watch television, play video games, and use computers, tablets, and smartphones. This can cause eye fatigue for any child, but those with undiagnosed and untreated vision disorders are more susceptible to experiencing recurring headaches from too much screen time.

Click here to read 9 signs that your child could have a learning-related vision problem that may cause headaches.

Click here to watch a webinar to learn more about vision problems in children.

The good news is, vision therapy addresses and treats many common vision problems that cause headaches in children. But the first step is always to determine the cause of the headaches.

If you suspect your child’s frequent headaches might be caused by a vision problem, schedule a comprehensive vision exam by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care.

If your family is in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, click here to make an appointment with Dr. Philip Nicholson at the Visual Learning Center.

 

 

 

 

boy with glasses

What Vision Therapy Can and Cannot Treat

Vision therapy helps children with vision problems develop or improve visual skills, abilities, and efficiencies. If your child is diagnosed with a functional vision problem or visual processing disorder, an individualized vision therapy treatment program, under the supervision of an optometrist trained in developmental and functional vision care, can significantly improve or correct the visual deficiency.

Some visual conditions cannot be treated adequately with just glasses, contact lenses, patching, or surgery. When appropriate, these conditions are best resolved through a program of vision therapy.

Effective vision therapy is an individualized treatment program designed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies. Sessions include procedures designed to enhance the brain’s ability to control eye focusing, eye teaming, eye tracking, or visual processing.

Click here for 9 Signs Your Child May Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem

Here are are just a few examples of conditions that affect vision and interfere with learning, which can be treated successfully with vision therapy:

Accommodative (focusing) dysfunction

A child with an accommodative disorder has trouble using his eye muscles appropriately to bring an object into focus clearly or to maintaining focus for a sustained period of time. The muscles that focus the lenses in our eyes have to adjust quickly (and often) to see various points of visual interest clearly, or sustain that clear focus over a period of time, without vision becoming fuzzy or blurred. Vision therapy can treat accommodative disorders successfully.

Amblyopia (lazy eye)

A child with amblyopia has reduced vision in one eye because normal and healthy connections between the child’s eyes and brain did not form correctly during developmental stages. The deficiency causes the brain to favor one eye over the other and suppresses images from the affected eye. Vision therapy can treat amblyopia successfully.

Strabismus

Strabismus is a condition in which the eye is either constantly or intermittently turned – usually inward or outward (often the cause of amblyopia). In a child with strabismus or other similar alignment problems the eye that points straighter becomes dominant. In severe cases, surgery may be required, but vision therapy can treat strabismus successfully.

Convergence insufficiency

Convergence is the ability to aim one’s eyes at a near distance, and children with a healthy visual system are able to aim their eyes naturally and easily.Convergence insufficiency is a medical condition in which the brain has trouble accurately, efficiently, and comfortably coordinating the eye muscles to see properly for a prolonged period of time at reading distance. Vision therapy can treat convergence insufficiency successfully.

Visual Processing Deficiencies

Normal visual processing requires a complex system of neurological activity to be developed and functioning properly. Many children lack good visual processing skills. Because of a delay in development or disorder, their vision system has trouble computing visual input, leading to problems with visual-motor integration and speed, visualization, visual memory, and more. Vision therapy can treat visual processing problems successfully.

Unfortunately, a lot of children continue to struggle unnecessarily due to undetected vision problems that can be treated successfully with vision therapy. However, one reason so many vision problems go undiagnosed is that they often resemble similar problems that cannot be treated with vision therapy. As parents discover the remarkable results achieved in vision therapy programs, it’s important to understand that vision therapy is not a miracle cure for untreatable conditions.

Some examples of conditions that vision therapy does not treat include:

Myopia, Hyperopia, Astigmatism

Vision therapy does not treat nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism. Children with these common condition, which blur vision, are prescribed eyeglasses or contact lenses to optically correct the problem, by altering the way in which light enters the eyes. Myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism are all caused by an irregularity in the length of the eyeball itself or curvature of the cornea, and therefore cannot be corrected by vision therapy. (Note: Vision therapy is sometimes confused with the Bates Method or the See Clearly Method which do not have the same scientific basis or reputation as vision therapy.)

Dyslexia

Vision therapy does not cure dyslexia. the signs and symptoms of dyslexia and learning-related vision problems practically mimic each other, with subtle differences. Even a professional trained to recognize dyslexia may not suspect a vision deficiency without proper awareness. Dyslexia cannot be cured, though many learn to cope with it well and succeed; however, learning-related vision deficiencies that have symptoms similar to dyslexia can be treated and even eliminated by vision therapy. Click here to learn more.

Unrelated Learning Disabilities or Developmental Delays

Vision therapy does not eliminate developmental delays or learning disabilities unrelated to vision. A child with an undetected vision disorder may be misdiagnosed with a learning disability; but a learning disability such as an auditory or language processing disorder, cannot be treated with vision therapy. Many children diagnosed with learning disabilities and developmental delays also struggle with vision problems. If your child has been diagnosed with developmental delays, and he or she is not making expected progress from working with an occupational therapist or in another type of early learning developmental therapy, it could be due to an undetected vision problem that can be treated with vision therapy.

Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Vision therapy is not an antidote for ADD/ADHD, as it does not directly treat impulsivity, hyperactivity, or inattentiveness. However, some children are misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder when the symptoms they display are actually related to a vision disorder. Teachers might describe your child as distracted or antsy, report that your child daydreams in class, stares out the window, or looks around the room when he should be focusing on his paper or the board. You may have noticed that your child has a short attention span, difficulty staying on task, or following instructions. If the child has a vision problem, he may be diverting his eyes to avoid strain, “acting out” due to frustration, or coping by avoiding tasks; but if the problem is unrelated to vision, vision therapy will not help.

Test Performance in Children with Healthy Vision

In the competitive environment of an educational system that relies heavily on standardized testing, some parents look for creative methods to give their child an edge. You may have learned that vision therapy has helped a friend’s child improve test scores or grades and wonder if your child’s performance in school could be boosted by vision therapy too. Vision therapy does not improve performance in school or tests for children who do not have vision disorders. However, many children could benefit from following these tips to ease eye strain.

When your child is having trouble in school or difficulty learning, it can be confusing and troubling for you as a parent.

Learn more about how vision affects learning by watching this webinar for parents.

Fortunately, vision therapy addresses and treats learning-related vision problems that might be holding your child back. But the first step is always to determine if your child does indeed have a vision problem.

So check for these 9 signs; and if you suspect a problem, schedule a comprehensive vision exam by an optometrist who specializes in functional and developmental vision care right away.

If you are located in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, contact us for an appointment.