The Silent Symptoms of a Vision Problem
Have you or a teacher ever described your child in any of these ways?
“Reading is very difficult for her” or “she hates reading.”
“He can’t seem to comprehend or remember what he reads.”
“No matter how much tutoring she gets, she just can’t seem to succeed in school.”
“She has trouble focusing and tires quickly.”
“Homework is a nightmare!”
Or perhaps in these ways:
“He’s so bright, but just can’t seem to pay attention in school.”
“She just can’t or won’t follow directions!”
“It’s impossible for him to keep his chair on the floor. He’s either rocking, tipping, or falling off of it!”
Initially, what problems seem to be presenting here? A lack of interest or effort in learning to read or do well in school? An inability to focus or concentrate; perhaps ADD or ADHD? A low IQ? Behavior problems or lack of self-control? No doubt, these issues could all indeed play a factor, and should not be neglected. But there might be another very real challenge that could be affecting your child right now, that has gone undetected. This problem, more common than you might think, impacts 1 in 4 learners today, causing school to be extremely laborious, straining and defeating. This silent culprit affects one of the most basic and foundational systems of your child’s very being and their ability to function in their world: their vision.
But, you may reason, I’ve already taken my child to the optometrist and they told me my child either has 20/20 vision, or my child has glasses that correct their vision to 20/20. So, their vision problem has been corrected, right? Not necessarily. A standard eye exam checks for eye health and clarity of focus – can you read the eye chart? But it does nothing to check the visual skills so necessary for success in the classroom. So whether your child does or doesn’t wear glasses, there could be a silent visual dysfunction impeding their ability to function efficiently.
So, what are we even really talking about here? Over 100 years of research and clinical experience have shown that excellent vision is much more than having 20/20 vision! Think of your eyes as the tool that your brain uses to see and make sense of the world visually. Just as a person could have the best carpentry tools in the world, without the skills to use them, the tools cannot achieve great results.
If reading and comprehension is where your child struggles, it could be that they have an eye-movement control problem. Even when they try their hardest, their eyes may jump over words or even entire lines, regularly taking them to the wrong place. Can you imagine trying to make sense of a story when this happens? Or perhaps they have an eye-teaming problem. Since we have two eyes, they must point at exactly the same spot in space in order for us to see one clear image, rather than two images, or a blurred image. If the eyes are the slightest bit out of alignment, your child could be experiencing double vision, blurring even when wearing glasses, or missing words while the eyes work to realign. For some children words can even appear to float or swim on the page. This makes comprehension a massive challenge, if not impossible. When the brain is too busy making the eyes work, there is no room left for comprehension.
Many parents believe that if their child had a vision challenge, they would say so. But because there is no way to really know how others see the world, kids often think that everyone sees things the way they do. Plus, if this is how they’ve always seen the world, they may not think to tell you. It might seem normal to them!
If your child exhibits behavior issues, it would be worth finding out if they have trouble changing focus from near to far and back again. Even if a child’s vision is 20/20, he or she can still have up to a 10 second delay in this change of focus (for example looking back and forth from their desk up to the board while copying assignments or notes). In this case, their ability to complete work is greatly slowed down, and the effort required can cause fatigue and even headaches. This can result in avoidance behaviors such as “goofing off”, attention seeking, or daydreaming.
All too often kids are accused of being lazy, unfocused, or not trying hard enough when they are actually working harder than everyone else. Children respond to their visual struggles in different ways. Some will just work harder and harder. But, there are also those kids who give up on themselves entirely, because they know they can’t do what others can, no matter how hard they try.
There are over 30 visual skills that make up the visual system. Vision Therapy helps to develop these skills, and to help them function efficiently. Through weekly in-office visits one-on-one with a trained therapist, under the oversight and direction of Dr. Christy Curtis, O.D., EyeOptics works with patients to teach and coach them through increasingly challenging visual exercises. The newly learned skills are reinforced at home, so together therapist and patient work up the ladder of visual skills until the visual skills are solid and efficient. Patients not only gain a much more efficient visual system that will last them the rest of their lives, but also a new-found confidence they never thought possible!
Finding out if your child might have a vision problem starts with a simple screening. This is a very useful tool that takes just 15 minutes in our office. It is included with our standard eye exam or, if you’ve already had your annual eye exam this year, it is available by itself for $25. We are happy to work with your current optometrist.
Vision Therapy has proven to be life changing to countless children and adults.
Schedule your screening today!