August is National Children’s Vision and Learning Month, just in time for back to school. Many of us recall as children the simple school eye screening where we stood behind a line and read the eye chart. If you didn’t need glasses then you didn’t have a vision problem, or so that was what was thought. While checking a child’s eye sight for correct 20/20 vision and the need for glasses is important, there is a second eye exam few parents ever hear about. Most parents and teachers think if a child has 20/20 vision, there is no other reason to look into visual issues as part of learning disorders or behavioral issues. In reality, how well the eyes work together cannot be spotted on the standard eye exam. This requires a visual test of how well the eye and brain work as a team.
Specialized optometrist trained to spot visual issues report there are many issues that hold children back. Children think everyone sees like they do so double vision when trying to see a moving object or wavy letters dancing on a page are not something they will report to parents or teachers. Children work to compensate for poor vision unless someone realizes there might be a visual issue. Sometime a child will call themselves slow or dumb when they see they cannot keep up with other students.
Some of the issues a vision therapist will check for are:
- Convergence insufficiency
- Lack or depth perception
- Double vision
- Eye tracking issues
- Any brain damage which may be known due to a stroke or other head injury, or unknown such as a head injury from a fall that you did not know had caused an issue.
- Strabismus or crossed eyes
- Lazy eye
Some of the reasons to suspect vision issues are:
- Despite being bright verbally, a child is unable to perform academically.
- Behavioral issues such as ADD or ADHD
- Exhaust easy while doing school work.
- Appearing slow or lazy where school work is concerned.
- Poor hand eye coordination.
- Dyslexia or other learning and writing issues.
Once an issue has been found, the optometrist will work to correct vision issues with vision therapy. Unlike eye exercises you do at home, these are eye training exercises done in the therapy center that help to coordinate the brain with the eyes. Think of this as physical therapy for the eyes. Each program is custom to the child’s or adult’s needs and each session last usually 30 minutes twice a week with at home or reinforcement exercises between sessions.
If you suspect you child may have a hidden vision problem, a visit to a vision specialist might be the key to answering some of your concerns. To find a vision therapy center in your state use ask your child’s regular doctor or ask a school special education teacher. Either should be able to help you find a local center.
For more information on vision training visit the following website. http://www.childrensvision.com/therapy.htm