WISE EYES
Visual Skills Vital for Learning


Vision and sight are not the same thing.  Unfortunately, many parents will unknowingly assume that their child has perfect vision if they’ve been told he has 20/20 eyesight.   In fact, a shocking number of children in the U.S.  have never had an eye exam because their Kindergarten screening told them they were “20/20”.  The term 20/20 refers to acuity..specifically, the clarity at which you can see a letter on a chart from 20 feet away.  While this is important, it is in fact just one small component of vision – the ability not only to see, but to use the brain to make sense of what the eyes see.  Children who may not have fully developed some of their visual skills will inevitably struggle in the academic environment that places so many demands on their visual system.  75-90% of classroom learning occurs through the visual system.  The good news is that because vision is a learned skill, it’s never too late to learn!

8 VISUAL SKILLS VITAL TO ACADEMIC SUCCESS:
  • Visual Acuity – the ability to see clearly up close and at a distance
  • Peripheral Vision – the ability to see objects around you while fixating straight ahead
  •  Color Perception
  • Accommodation – the ability to quickly and accurately change focus from near to far and back.
  • Ocular Motility– the ability to keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another or following a moving object. (“tracking”)
  • Eye Teaming – the ability to coordinate and use both eyes together (“binocular coordination”)
  • Eye-Hand Coordination  - the ability to use visual information to monitor and direct the hands
  • Visual Perception – the ability to organize images and understand and remember what is seen
 

Learn to Read the Signs
(Vision Problems that Affect Learning)


Does My Child Need Vision Therapy?
 
Take this quick assessment to find out if vision therapy could help your child in school

http://www.eyecanlearn.com/eyeslearn/symptoms/

Any of these signs could be an indicator of a visual deficit.  Be sure your child has a comprehensive eye exam from a developmental optometrist.

  1. Has an eye that occasionally turns in or out
  2. Tilts the head to one side on a frequent basis, or has one shoulder that is noticeably higher
  3. Squints, blinks, and/or closes one eye repeatedly
  4. Holds the book close while reading
  5. Has poor hand-eye coordination
  6. Displays signs of emotional or developmental immaturity
  7. Has a low frustration level, and often doesn’t get along well with others
  8. Experiences blurry vision
  9. Complains of nausea or dizziness and motion sickness
  10. Experiences double vision (you may have to ask – “do you see two of these objects?”)
  11. Confuses left and right directions on an ongoing basis
  12. Loses his or her place when reading or copying from the board or paper
  13. Has difficulty remembering what was read
  14. Has difficulty remembering, identifying, and reproducing geometric shapes
  15. Reverses words
  16. Uses finger to read
  17. Rubs eyes during or after short periods of reading
  18. Skips words or lines and/or has to re-read on a regular basis
  19. Omits small words
  20. Struggles with handwriting
  21. Moves head back and forth (instead of moving eyes)
  22. Appears clumsy, or frequently bumps into or drops things
  23. Experiences problems catching a ball
  24. Favors the use of one eye when reading or viewing an object
  25. Experiences burning, reddened, or itching eyes
  26. Has frequent headaches in forehead or temples
  27. Exhibits posture problems
  28. Has a short attention span and is easily distracted
  29. Becomes nervous, irritable, or quickly fatigued while reading, or doing  other close work


ACCOMMODATION
Just as a camera must “refocus” to take clear pictures at different distances, a child must also accurately adjust his eyes to see clearly at different distances.  The ability to change the shape of the lens of the eye to focus at different distances is called accommodation.  Routine eye screenings generally do not include a thorough evaluation of accommodation.  Even a child with 20/20 acuity may have an accommodation problem, either with power, flexibility, or maintenance of accommodation.

Power of accommodation:  the closer to his eyes that a child can clearly see the more powerful his accommodation.
Flexibility of accommodation:  the quicker a child can see clearly when shifting attention from one distance to another, the more flexible his accommodation.
Maintenance of accommodation:  the longer a child can look at the same distance and continue to see clearly without momentary blurring, the better is his ability to maintain accommodation.

8 Signs of an accommodation problem:
  1. Reading comprehension is good when your child first begins reading but then rapidly reduces the longer reading is continued.  Your child begins reading well, but all too rapidly begins to squirm and want to get away.
  2. Your child avoids reading. Pages are counted before reading commences and only shorter tasks are attempted.
  3. Your child complains of discomfort or headaches when reading.  Younger children, rather than complaining, may rub their eyes or merely avoid reading.
  4. Your child blinks excessively when reading or looking at street signs or the chalkboard as if trying to “clear things up”.
  5. Your child complains that things are blurry even though a vision screening has demonstrated 20/20 acuity.
  6. Your child holds books too close to his eyes or moves the book or his head closer and further away as if to clear things.
  7. Your child makes seemingly careless errors when reading or copying from the board.  Long words like rhinoceros are recognized while little words such as of, as, and is, or small beginnings and ending of words are misread or confused.
  8. Your child’s reading comprehension is not as good as his intelligence would predict.  Math, with the exception of story problems, is better than subjects such as English, Social Studies, or Science, which require reading.  The more reading there is to do, the worse the problem becomes.
Any one of these symptoms could signal that your child is having difficulty with accommodation.

EYE TEAMING
Imagine how difficult it would be to perfectly coordinate your arms so that when one moved up, down, right, or left, the other arm moved exactly the same distance and direction at the exact same time.  Every time one arm trailed, even a centimeter behind the other, you’d see double.  This is the precision required by the eyes to function together to avoid double vision… not just a few minutes at a time, but all day long!  The ability to maintain both eyes pointed at precisely the same object is called eye teaming.

7 signs of deficient eye teaming:
  1. Your child covers or closes one eye while reading.
  2. Your child tends to rest her head on the palm of her hand while reading.  This hand “just happens” to cover one eye.
  3. Your child holds the book to one side or turns his head to one side when reading so that both eyes cannot see the print at the same time.
  4. Your child adds or removes parts of the words when reading.
  5. When copying materials from the chalkboard, your child repeats letters within words.
  6. When performing math problems, your child fails to align the columns of numbers correctly because the numbers are seen to run together.
  7. Your child demonstrates any of the signs of accommodation problems.

Accommodation and Eye Teaming skills are crucial for young children learning to read.

Ask your child:
  1. When you’re reading, do words ever blur or look fuzzy for a second?  Do the words ever get hard to see?
  2. When you are reading and first look up to the board, are the words ever blurry or fuzzy for a second or two?
Listen to your child, and don’t stop listening no matter what any professional tells you.

EYE MOVEMENTS (TRACKING:  SACCADES AND PURSUITS)
Eye movement ability includes moving the eyes from one point to another, as required for reading, or following a moving object with the eyes, as required for catching a ball.  We have only a tiny area of clear central vision; the object that we are looking directly at.  Our peripheral vision is indistinct, so it is important to have good eye movement ability in order to view words on a page accurately.  If eye movements are slow, schoolwork will be slow.  If eye movements are inaccurate, your child will make seemingly “careless” errors.

5 signs of deficient eye movement abilities
  1. Your child moves her head rather than her eyes when reading.
  2. Your child too frequently loses his place or skips lines when reading.
  3. Your child makes seemingly careless errors when reading.  Beginnings or endings of words are altered or missing.  “Small” words are skipped.
  4. Past the age of 7, your child needs a finger to keep her place when reading.
  5. Your child is labeled as having a problem with “attention”.

VISUAL PERCEPTION
In the English language, when we say “I see”, we mean “I understand”.  Visual perception is the ability to understand and recognize the likes and differences in what is seen.  This lack of understanding is why some children appear to see things “backwards”, such as confusing “b’s” with “d’s”.



6 signs of a visual perception problem
  1. Your child is not learning how to read on schedule.  He is having difficulty learning to recognize words.
  2. Your child is having difficulty in kindergarten.
  3. Your child is still having problems recognizing letters or numbers past the end of kindergarten.
  4. Your child is still reversing “b’s” and “d’s” past the end of first grade.  It is normal for kindergarteners to reverse letters.  However, by the end of first grade only about 2 out of 10 children are still reversing.
  5. Your child frequently confuses similar beginnings or endings of words.
  6. Your child recognizes the sounds of individual letters, but cannot break words down into syllables to “sound them out”.


EYE-HAND COORDINATION

The ability of the eyes to guide the hands is important whenever your child has to “get things down on paper”.  In other words, if the hands are not as quick as the mind, difficulty in this area can cause extreme frustration in subjects in which writing is required.  Often teachers and parents will assume the child’s sloppy penmanship means a lack of effort, or a behavior or attention problem.

5 signs of an eye-hand coordination problem
  1. Your child has difficulty with spacing his words and keeping them on the line when writing.
  2. Your child has poor handwriting.
  3. You child does not seem to use her eyes to guide her hands to stay inside the lines when coloring.  She avoids coloring, drawing, or maze-tracing activities.
  4. When working with written math problems, your child has difficulty keeping the columns lined up.
  5. Your child easily understands and can discuss what he has heard but has difficulty getting his thoughts down on paper.


VISUAL MEMORY
Visual imagery is the ability to “see the pictures” in your mind, either through visual memory - to remember a picture of what has been seen in the past, or through visualization - to create new pictures to view in your mind.  A child with poor visual imagery has to struggle that much harder to spell and read.

5 signs of difficulty with visual imagery ability
  1. Your child has persistent difficulty learning to spell.
  2. Your child fails to recognize the same word in the next line when reading.
  3. Your child fails to “picture in his mind” what is read.
  4. Your child has difficulty recalling what she did during the day at school.
  5. When your child loses his place during reading or boardwork he has difficulty remembering where he was so that he can find his place.

When Your Child Struggles, the Myths of 20/20 Vision, Dr. David Cook

Solutions


Vision Therapy

   
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision Therapy is an in-office treatment program prescribed by an optometrist and designed to correct visual deficiencies with eye alignment and teaming, eye movements (tracking), eye focusing abilities (accommodation), and visual processing skills – problems that cannot be corrected with glasses.  The therapy consists of an individualized plan of treatment using lenses, prisms, instrumentation, visual exercises, and occlusion.  A trained therapist under the direction of the doctor works with the patient once or twice a week for a period from 3-12 months, depending on the nature and severity of the patient's condition. Usually home therapy is also prescribed to reinforce the new skills the patient is learning at the doctor's office. Though the science of vision therapy has been around since the 1930’s, historically the majority of eye doctors have primarily attended to looking for and correcting acuity issues, leaving most people unaware of the existence of any other visual deficits. 

Who can benefit from VT?
We’ve learned that there is so much more to vision than just acuity.  In order to use the brain and eyes together, good vision requires the development of other skills, such as accommodation (changing focus from near to far and back), teaming, tracking, visual perception, and eye-hand coordination.  As with any other ability or skill set, we can think of our visual skills as existing on a bell curve of sorts.  Although nobody is right at the top of the curve with “perfect” visual ability, we all fall somewhere along the curve, ideally closer to the top. Given that, anyone can benefit from vision therapy, but the further down the curve your visual skill set is, the more beneficial or even necessary vision therapy becomes. 

With the advent of computers in the work environment, there are more and more adults with eye strain-related vision problems which can be improved through vision therapy. Also, there are special needs patients with brain trauma or head injury problems which vision therapy can uniquely help. Children diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum can benefit from vision therapy. It is becoming increasingly common for athletes to improve their skills through vision therapy.  Children diagnosed with strabismus or amblyopia benefit from vision therapy.  Still, the majority of VT patients are children with learning or reading problems who have been through all kinds of interventions. These children have been told that their eyes are healthy and that glasses aren't necessary, and are often labeled ADD/ADHD, learning disabled, but they continue to struggle with visual processing. Their visual processing problems or developmental vision problems can't be detected unless the eye doctor specifically tests for them.  - Dr. Leonard J. Press, FCOVD, FAAO   www.visiontherapy.org

VISION THERAPY AND LEARNING PROBLEMS
It is important for children with learning problems, especially those with IEPs, to undergo a comprehensive vision exam.  Though studies have shown that children with IEPs experience vision-related problems more often than the general population, sadly, only two states require vision exams for students with learning difficulties.  In fact, only 3 states currently require incoming kindergarteners to have a vision exam and only 4 require vision exams for children who failed a vision screening.   Sixteen states do not even require vision screenings.  JBO - Volume 23 - Issue 4

“According to law in many states, if a child is classified as having a specific learning disability, the school is required to either provide the necessary therapy, or to pay for the parents to obtain the necessary help not provided by the school. This puts educators in a tight spot. Funds are limited, so schools understandably try to minimize expenditures. Regarding perceptual impairment or visual processing disorders, educators are sometimes faced with two basic choices:
  1. Have someone already on staff provide the therapy necessary or
  2. Deny that the therapy has anything to do with the child's learning problems.
Some school systems try to adopt the latter approach, which leaves more money in the pot for services which are provided within the school system.

In the case of the former, the school might assign the child to a staff Occupational Therapist. OTs are highly skilled in helping children with developmental, gross motor, and fine motor activities particularly handwriting, but they are not trained or licensed in vision therapy. Specifically, occupational therapists cannot administer important vision therapy procedures which involve lenses, prisms, and devices which insure that both eyes work together as a synchronous team.

Fortunately, we are seeing an increase in schools which recommend that parents of children with visual problems seek evaluation and treatment with a licensed optometric vision therapist.”
- Dr. Leonard J. Press, FCOVD, FAAO

If your child is experiencing learning problems or has an IEP, be proactive and have him examined by a developmental optometrist.  Use the following table as a guideline to identify possible visual deficits,  The sooner visual deficiencies are detected and treated, the sooner your child can get to the business of learning!
 

Signs and symptoms

Myopia/Hyperopia/

Astigmatism (Refractive Error)

Eye Focusing Problems

(Accomodation)

Poor Eye

Tracking (Ocular Motility)

Inadequate

Eye Teaming

(Stereopsis)

Faulty

Visual

Perception

Complains of blurred vision

X

X

Holds print close to face when reading

X

X

X

Rubs eyes frequently

X

X

X

Reports seeing double sometimes

X

Squints

X

Eyes hurt/Headaches after reading

X

X

Able to read for only a short time

X

X

X

Loses place/omits words or lines when reading

X

Uses finger to keep place when reading

X

Short attention span

X

X

X

Reverses letters or words

X

X

X

Poor at catching or hitting a ball

X

Difficulty recognizing letters, words, shapes

X

Sloppy handwriting

X

Poor speller

X

Trouble with math

X

Poor reading comprehension

X

X

Covers an eye or tilts/turns head when reading

X


Vision Therapy and ADHD

Over the last decades, more and more children have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorders (ADHD).  Because there is no objective clinical test to confirm ADHD, the diagnosis is based on a set of subjective symptoms.  If a child exhibits any six of nine characteristics in either category, he is labeled ADHD.  In an effort to help children who are struggling in school, many parents start their child on medication. While stimulant medications like Ritalin or Adderall help the child's ability to "focus," these drugs can have negative side effects related to appetite, sleep, and growth.  And unfortunately, they are treating the symptoms and not the cause.

While many factors can contribute to learning problems, some children experience difficulty in school because they are not 'visually ready' to learn. If their visual abilities are not thoroughly evaluated, they may mistakenly be labeled as learning disabled or as having ADHD, when in fact the underlying problem for many of these children may be an undetected and untreated vision problem.  Studies show that approximately 20% of school-aged children suffer from problems with tracking, eye teaming, and focusing, which can make it very difficult, or nearly impossible for some children to remain on task and concentrate on learning.

According to the COVD, undetected and untreated vision problems can elicit some of the very same signs and symptoms that are commonly attributed to ADHD, such as behaviors of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and distractibility. Due to these similarities, some children with vision problems are mislabeled as having ADHD.

A recent study at the University of California in San Diego Ratner Children's Eye Center uncovered a relationship between convergence insufficiency, a common vision disorder, and ADHD. The study showed that children with convergence insufficiency are three times as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children without the disorder. Dr. David B. Granet, director of the Ratner Children's Eye Center and a nationally known pediatric ophthalmologist, explains that because this kind of eye teaming problem causes children to have difficulty keeping both eyes focused on a close target, it becomes more difficult for them to concentrate on reading, one of the ways doctors diagnose ADHD.  As a result of his research, Dr. Granet recommends that no child be diagnosed with ADHD until their visual system has been checked because the chance of a misdiagnosis is just too great.  (Strabismus, Volume 13, Number 4 / December 2005, Pages: 163 - 168)

“For example, children with convergence insufficiency or convergence excess often have difficulty using their two eyes together at the close-up distances required for reading and writing.  After a short period of time, they can no longer control their eye movements, and the print on the page begins to jump and move as they struggle to aim their eyes at the same point on the page.  The result is a great deal of eyestrain as they fight to coordinate their eyes.  Soon these children are forced to exercise their only relief--avoidance of the close-up tasks which are making them uncomfortable. These children are often looking around the room, getting a drink, going to the bathroom, staring out the window, or talking to their neighbors.  They're taking "vision breaks," although they don't realize that's what they're doing. Children with eye teaming problems have always seen this way, and most are not aware that their close-up vision is not normal.  Few report eye strain or blurred or double print; all they know is that they cannot continue with their seat work one more moment.  As the day progresses, they become increasingly fatigued and frustrated.  (For a more detailed description of learning-related vision problems, see Vision and Reading)”

Any child who is suspected of having ADHD should have a comprehensive eye exam by a developmental optometrist to determine if poor visual processing is a factor in the child's behavior.  Unlike ADHD which is diagnosed by a subjective checklist, objective clinical measures and tests can be run to determine for certain if the child has a learning-related vision problem.

Vision Therapy and Autism

Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the US.  Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a group of disabilities characterized by significant impairments in social interaction and communication, and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. People with autism have difficulty processing and responding to information from their senses.

Our eyes simply collect the visual images that are sent to our brain to understand the world around us.  Just as a stone thrown in the water ripples the water outward, a visual problem can impact motor and learning development, which can in turn impact social and communication development. One small pebble can create quite an impact!  Many parents of autistic children believe that if they had known about their child’s visual problems when they were much younger, many of their motor and social deficits might not have been as significant.

Visual problems are common with those that have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum.  Yet, many of these students are visual learners and benefit from utilizing visual strategies to support better communication and learning.  “Many of the behavioral characteristics of those falling within the autism spectrum involve the visual system. Poor eye contact, staring at lights or spinning objects, looking askance, side viewing and general difficulties attending are often symptoms of visual dysfunction. Thus, any individual with a diagnosis of autism, PDD, learning disability, speech-language delay, sensory integration dysfunction, Asperger syndrome, non-verbal learning disability or with psychological problems should most certainly undergo a thorough examination by a developmental optometrist.” Randy Schulman, MS, OD, FCOVD

Yoked prisms are special lenses that bend light: up, down, left or right. These lenses can have dramatic results by allowing the person to change how their world is perceived. In the visual evaluation, an activity such as throwing and catching a ball, walking up and down stairs or using scissors to cut along a line may be done. While wearing different powers of yoked lenses, the same activity is repeated and evaluated. The doctor may prescribe tinted lenses or yoked prisms for special activities or for full time wear. The lenses may be used as an integral part of vision therapy.

If your child has a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, be sure he has a visual evaluation with a developmental optometrist.   Having a visual evaluation by a developmental optometrist may lead to treatment that can have a positive ripple effect on sensory development and integration and can help a child with ASD become more successful in communication, school, sports and life.


Vision Therapy and Brain Injury or Stroke – coming soon


Vision Therapy and Sports

Baseball, golf, football, tennis, lacrosse, hockey…no matter what your game, Vision Therapy can help you take it to the next level.

The pros have already been integrating it into their training for a while now; MLB teams like the Kansas City Royals, Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Cleveland Indians, and the Milwaukee Brewers. NFL’s St. Louis Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers, and even the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and the Brooklyn Nets use vision training techniques.  Players like NFL wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Packers receiver Greg Jennings, former NHL Goalie Dwayne Roloson, Washington Nationals Outfielder Bryce Harper, Red Sox outfielder Corey Brown, and Baltimore Orioles 2nd baseman Steve Lombardozzi swear by it.  The University of Tennessee, Southern Miss, and Vanderbilt incorporate sports visual training. The United States Olympic bobsled and luge teams use vision therapy, as do many PGA golfers and Nascar racers.  It’s no surprise that it’s becoming all the rage for any athlete who wants to enhance their athletic performance to seek the benefits of Vision Therapy.
Beyond visual acuity, critical visual skills in sports include:
  • Ocular Motility Skills - the two types of eye movements are pursuits, in which we follow a moving object, and saccades, in which we make quick, directed movements from one object to another, such as an infielder snagging a grounder then looking to first base to throw out the runner, or a golfer quickly shifting focus from the ball at their feet toward the green in the distance.
  • Sharpening these skills helps you "keep your eyes on the ball."
  • Visual/Motor Reaction Time - when the pitch is coming toward you, do you swing early, late, or right on time?
  • Peripheral Awareness - the ability to maintain awareness of what is going on around you while trying to accomplish a specific task in front of you. Running full speed, a soccer player tracks both the ball flying through the air and the defenders on her heels.
  • Eye/hand, eye/body, eye/foot coordination -  the ability to direct the hands, feet, or body the way you need to in order to accomplish a task
  • Depth Perception -  the ability to judge the distance between you and an object
  • Contrast Sensitivity - the ability to distinguish detail of an object or scene when the contrast is reduced; for example, tracking a golf ball on a dark, overcast day, or fielding a fly ball in the bright  stadium lights.
Vision training techniques, a form of perceptual learning, do not improve “eyesight”; they improve the ability to process what is seen. Vision, like other sensory systems, can be improved with practice.   “A study of the University of Cincinnati baseball team found marked improvement in the batting averages of players following six weeks of various kinds of vision training. The team batting average went up 34 points from the previous season, exceeding improvements of other N.C.A.A. teams. Errors decreased by 15 percent, while fielding assists increased 8 percent. One author of the study was Johnny Bench, the Hall of Fame catcher.” (Kate Murphy, The New York Times,  May 26, 2014)

So, are YOU ready to step up your game?

The NFL’s Most Exciting Receiver, The Wall Street Journal, 1/16/09

Vision Training Results in Better Baseball Batters - teamsnap.com



ChromaGen Lenses
NEW OPTICAL TREATMENT FOR READING PROBLEMS AND DYSLEXIA

"Reading problems are the single most detrimental condition that has a negative impact on the learning process. ChromaGen Lenses can provide a benefit for the majority of students that struggle with reading.”

 
ChromaGen lenses are glasses or contacts that reduce symptoms of visual reading disorders. They are helping children of all ages who have difficulties (even conditions such as dyslexia) read more easily, quickly and accurately.  
 
Some visual reading disorders occur because light enters the eyes at different speeds, preventing the eyes from working properly. ChromaGen technology features filtered lenses that change the wavelength of light going into each eye, allowing the speed of the information traveling along the brain’s pathways to become balanced. This means that when a child is wearing ChromaGen glasses or contacts, words that once wiggled, blurred or moved now remain still, and the headaches, nausea, and fatigue the child may have experienced goes away.   For over 90% of people who see words moving on a page, ChromaGen is their solution!
 
ChromaGen lenses are only available through a specially certified eye doctor. The testing process is simple.  An eye doctor asks the child a series of questions about his or her reading challenges.  If the child’s responses to these questions indicate that ChromaGen may work for him or her, the doctor conducts a short examination to find the best combination of lenses.  The lenses work instantly, so you’ll   know right away if ChromaGen can help.  
 
ChromaGen technology is not a cure for visual reading disorders, but is a life-changing aid in reducing many of the symptoms that make reading a significant challenge for a lot of kids. The lenses also can help the 1 in 10 boys and 1 in 200 girls with color blindness to see colors as the rest of the world does.  
                                                                                                                             

The key is to identify those students that see words that move on the page or struggle with headaches, nausea, and fatigue.

ChromaGen Addresses Two Symptom Groups
ChromaGen Lenses have proven to be a Life-Changing Aid for people who struggle with reading problems. The two key symptom groups that ChromaGen Lenses address are

  1. Words that appear to be moving on the page when reading and
  2. The nagging symptoms of headaches, nausea, and fatigue.

These individualized, special tinted lenses are a new invention which is cleared by the FDA and is now available in the United States. ChromaGen products come with a 90-day unconditional, no questions asked, money back guarantee.

Contact us today for a 3-minute pre-qualifying survey to find out if ChromaGen is your solution!

Success Stories

It doesn’t usually start with a noticeable eye problem.  It usually begins when a bright child inexplicably struggles in school.  

When his preschool teacher recommended that he wait a year before starting Kindergarten - that he just didn’t seem ready – Joey’s mom followed the advice and postponed Kindergarten for a year.   Like most kids, Joey passed the standard school vision screening in Kindergarten.  His mom, Sharyl, hadn’t noticed any symptoms and Joey had never complained about his vision, so they wouldn’t have suspected that Joey had a vision problem.   It was Joey’s 2nd grade teacher who noticed that his comprehension was fine when books were read aloud to him, but he struggled with comprehension when reading independently.  When a child strains with reading fluency, losing their place on the page and re-reading sentences, they will usually have poor reading comprehension.  Joey was a bright boy and could easily answer questions verbally, but he had difficulty when it came to answering the questions in writing.  Spelling homework took a long time and was a difficult, frustrating task.  His words had no spaces between them, and lacked capitalization and punctuation.  After a few meetings, the school staff determined that Joey might benefit from working with the reading resource teacher, and accommodations were made to help Joey in the classroom, such as the use of a reading ruler and blue overlays.   

Both Joey’s teacher and mom knew he was too smart to be struggling like he was.  Fortunately, Joey’s teacher knew about Vision Therapy and gave Sharyl a packet of information to read.   They came to see Dr. Galper, who gave Joey a comprehensive vision exam and recommended a formal Vision Therapy evaluation.  Joey was diagnosed with oculomotor disfunction; a tracking problem.   Sharyl wasn’t sure what to expect from Vision Therapy, but she was determined for a solution for her son and believed that the cost of VT was a worthy investment in Joey’s academic future.   

Joey began weekly Vision Therapy sessions with Bruce.   Sharyl liked how Bruce really engages the kids and makes them feel comfortable.  She felt very involved in the homework/feedback cycle and was mindful of making sure that Joey did his homework consistently. It was while working on a metronome homework activity that Sharyl was able to see and understand her son’s struggle with tracking.  As they continued to practice together at home, they saw improvements in speed and accuracy.  Joey was re-evaluated by Dr. Galper every six weeks and each time feedback was provided regarding his progress.  Bruce was very encouraging and suggested accommodations that the teacher/school could make to further Joey’s success.  Joey’s teacher reported improvements within the first 6 weeks!  Joey’s spelling and handwriting improved.  Classroom accommodations like the reading ruler and blue overlays were no longer necessary, and Joey no longer needed resource services after the 3rd grade.  Joey, now in the 10th grade, continues to perform above grade level in reading and writing.   Sharyl is perhaps most delighted with the marked growth in Joey’s confidence.  According to his teachers he now chooses to sit up front and is highly engaged and participates in classroom activities.  Every mom loves to hear that!  Both Joey and his mom appreciate the changes since experiencing Vision Therapy at GEC.  Sharyl realizes what a struggle school would have been for Joey if this vision problem had never been detected and treated!   

Sharyl’s advice for parents who may be going through a similar experience:  “Know what to look for… and read the signs.  Try not to think of it like it means there’s something wrong with your child.  Take your child in for a comprehensive eye exam, even if you don’t recognize a problem, rather than relying on the school screenings.  They don’t test for the other issues like tracking; it’s really a shame that it’s so overlooked.   If your child is struggling in school, Vision Therapy is definitely worth the investment.  I have known people who’ve started therapy but didn’t follow through to see the results.  Be diligent about doing the home exercises – be patient and you will see results!”


Thank you, Sharyl and Joey, for sharing your story.  When a child is struggling in school, often teachers and parents will assume or hope that they will outgrow it and catch up later.  If the struggle continues, they’ll sometimes chalk it up to laziness or lack of effort, not understanding why this bright child is not achieving.  Usually parents don’t think their child could have a vision problem because they passed the school eyesight test or the pediatrician’s vision screening.  Learn about your child’s vision and what signs to look for…the earlier it’s detected and treated, the easier it is to catch up.  Too many children fight a senseless battle with vision problems that affect reading and learning.  


If you know anyone who is struggling, help spread the word about Vision Therapy – there IS a solution!


Signs and Symptoms of Ocular Motility Dysfunction
  • Moving head excessively when reading
  • Skipping lines when reading
  • Omitting and/or transposing words when reading
  • Losing place when reading
  • Requiring finger or marker to keep place when reading
  • Experiencing confusion during the return sweep phase of reading
  • Experiencing illusory text movement
  • Having deficient ball-playing skills

WOULD YOU SETTLE FOR LESS THAN YOUR CHILD’S FULL POTENTIAL?


It’s usually not obvious.  For Paige Miller’s family it wasn’t.  Just because some of us love to read, it doesn’t mean it’s for everyone, right?  Not being a big reader herself, Paige wasn’t surprised when all three of her kids didn’t like to read either, and though they lagged a bit in reading, they were still doing all right in school.  Troy, Madison, and Aidan had all passed their standard school vision screening, so it didn’t seem necessary to see an eye doctor if there wasn’t a problem.  Then in grade school Madison got a skin lesion near her eye and Paige had to take her to a pediatric ophthalmologist to have it looked at.  It was there that the doctor recognized that Madison was Esophoric; that her eyes occasionally turned inward while trying to focus.  In fact, it turned out that Paige, Troy, and Aidan were also Esophoric, as visual issues are often hereditary.  But it wasn’t considered to be a serious problem, and they were prescribed low power reading glasses, which didn’t seem to make much of a difference.  The signs can be very subtle, and often they are mistaken for learning or developmental delays, maturity or attention issues, or simple lack of interest or motivation.  Parents tend to think that’s just what comes with the territory when their child’s homework seems to take forever, or their child fatigues easily when reading, especially if they have one of those kids who ‘just doesn’t like to read’, and because Paige experienced similar symptoms, it just seemed normal to her.  

It was recommended by her teacher that Madison repeat the first grade, and she did, but it wasn’t until the 3rd grade for each of Paige’s kids that the difficulties became more noticeable and they all worked with the reading specialist from third through eighth grade.    Learning-related visual deficits often go unrecognized until 2nd or 3rd grade when students are shifting from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”.   Concerned that he was not progressing enough in reading, Paige had Troy tested at U of M, but they didn’t find his deficits to be severe enough to pursue an intervention plan.  Paige then went to the Dyslexia Center and Troy was diagnosed with both Dyslexia and ADHD and prescribed medication.    Knowing how similar her three children were, Paige also had Aidan and Madison tested and though both showed red flags for Dyslexia and ADHD, neither were considered  acute enough for a formal diagnosis. Unfortunately, unless a child is scoring far below what is regarded ‘normal’, they’re generally not considered for intervention.  Kids with more severe vision related learning problems stand a better chance of being detected.  A lot of kids with milder visual deficits fall through the cracks this way, achieving at a level considered to be normal, when actually their potential could be so much more.

 When she asked what could be done, Paige’s ophthalmologist mentioned Vision Therapy.  Like most parents, Paige had not heard of VT, so she did some research and found Galper Eye Center in Novi, a behavioral optometry office that specializes in Vision Therapy services.  Paige, willing to help her kids be the best they could be whatever the cost, decided to give Vision Therapy a try.  After meeting their deductible, BCBS medical covered the services in full.

Troy began weekly vision therapy sessions with Bruce.  Eventually, Madison and Aidan, and even Paige all went through the VT program at GEC.   (Ideally, the earlier visual deficits are identified and treated the better, but VT has been shown to improve visual skills and performance in people of all ages.)  Paige loved the program with Bruce, appreciating how he explained everything that he was working on, and how accommodating he was of their family’s busy schedule.  She was fascinated by how the therapy exercises teach you how to use your eyes and bring a new awareness of how you see.  “Once you know the facts, the flag goes up.  Until they’re pointed out to you you’re unaware.  Then suddenly you realize what you’ve been missing all along”, she said, when she’d realized why she’d always felt strangely uncomfortable making eye contact during conversations, and would compensate by turning her head to look from a sideways glance. Why she and her 3 children preferred to do activities other than reading.   Paige thinks the most significant benefit she saw was the increase in her children’s self-esteem  (a common side-effect of VT, which also results in less stress and anxiety!)

When Madison was struggling with the timed reading section of the ACT test, Paige sought advice once again from Dr. Galper, who suggested a simple screening test to see if Madison might benefit from a new technology - ChromaGen lenses; specially tinted lenses that can provide instant relief from Dyslexia-type symptoms.  The screening and evaluation are quick and easy and you can instantly see if they’ll work for you.  It turned out that they were a solution not only for Madison, but for Aidan and Paige, too!  Madison wears her ChromaGen lenses for reading, homework, and tests, with a 23% increase in reading speed and accuracy, increased clarity and comprehension, and less eye fatigue.  Her ACT reading score increased by 10 points (overall ACT score increase of 3 points)!  Aidan enjoys a 13% increase in reading speed and accuracy and both he and Madison appreciate some relief from red, watery eyes.    As with vision therapy, the ChromaGen results are very individualized.  For Paige it was remarkable -  a 40% improvement  in reading speed and accuracy along with significant relief from eye-strain and fatigue, increasing her endurance for close-up tasks.

Paige’s advice for parents who may be having similar concerns:  Be willing to try whatever might help your child.  The answer isn’t the same for everyone, so keep looking.  Paige wishes that everyone was aware of the benefits that Vision Therapy and ChromaGen lenses can provide; that educators were more knowledgeable and trained to identify vision-related learning problems to take a more preventive approach.   Those ‘gray zone’ kids shouldn’t be overlooked when there are solutions.  

Signs of Esophoria (Convergence Excess):
The signs and symptoms associated with convergence excess are often related to prolonged, visually-demanding, near- centered tasks like reading. They may include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Asthenopia (eye strain)
  • Headache
  • Avoidance of or inability to sustain near visual task
  • Diplopia (double vision)
  • Transient blurred vision
  • Abnormal postural adaptation/abnormal working distance
  • Pain in or around the eye
  • Abnormal fatigue
  • Dizziness