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Information for parents:
Patient information: We are consultants devoted to increasing the number of optometrists who provide vision therapy to their patients. We do this work because each of us had visual limitations that limited our lives--until we found out about vision therapy. Here is some information about vision problems and how they interfere with learning, living and work. Plus, some links to organizations and doctors who have received advanced, post doctoral training in how to examine for, identify and treat these problems.
Does your child have a vision problem? Most vision problems that concern parents are those that make reading and learning hard to do. A child who takes hours to do 20 minutes of homework, a child who is bright, but when it comes to anything that requires spending prolonged periods doing up close work (especially reading or verbal math problems), they just don't perform very well.
A recent medical study found that at least half of all children labeled with ADD and ADHD have a very common problem called "Convergence Insufficiency." For an adult or child who has this problem, getting the eyes to look inward as a team to scan, decode and take meaning from written material is an ordeal. Instruments show that when this happens, the levels of visual stress rise dramatically. Everyone has experienced visual stress, either from staring too long into a computer screen to getting headaches from bright or flourescent light. Visual stress isn't just a psychological upset that you can urge a child to power through, it's a real, physical stress response that can stop reading and learning in its tracks. How do you do when you try to study when you're stressed from a horrible day at work?
If you'd like a copy of a checklist that scores you or your child's likelihood of having a problem, please download our 30 Question Predictive Checklist (pdf). This checklist was recently "normed" in a clinical study. It is highly predictive of learning-related vision problems.
People respond to this visual stress in one of three ways:
1) They try hard to do the work, but with greatly reduced performance and understanding: This is the child who takes forever to do their homework, who reads and re-reads but can't tell you what they just read, who is bright but gets grades that are lower than expected despite all their work.
2) They do everything in their power to avoid anything that requires reading or prolonged close work: Many ADD children fall in this category--but if they can concentrate on video games, dinosaur books or other interests, contact one of the organizations or doctors below and have their vision checked BEFORE you put them on medications. Another common behavior signal is a child who becomes class clown, misbehaves or becomes sullen or aggressive. In numerous studies of convicted juvenile offenders about 90 percent had this kind of vision problem. When the vision problem was fixed, the rearrest rate plummeted.
3) Nearsightedness, astigmatism, differences between the two eyes: This is the child who you see with their faces just a few inches from their books or computer monitors, who sit right next to the television screen. They often have to squint a bit to clear their eyesight when they look up from their visual work. Astigmatism means that no matter how hard the child tries, they can't really clear their vision. Differences between the two eyes often means one eye does the close up seeing and the second eye either handles distances or becomes astigmatic. All are serious conditions with profound consequences later in life. These are physical changes that are usually permanent once they progress beyond a certain point. Many studies show that if a certain, easily measured, tendency to over-converge (cross the eyes inward such as while reading) is discovered early, the deterioration can be curtailed or even stopped by an aggressive visual intervention.
Sound familiar? If you'd like to know more about vision and learning, please use the following links to connect with organizations that focus on what are called behavioral or developmental vision problems.
The good news is that visual testing by a doctor who has done the post doctoral training to be competent in examining for and treating this kind of problem costs between 5 and 10 percent of the medical testing you'll be asked to do if you start with a physician. (I can tell you from first hand experience with my family and grandchildren as well as by working with these wonderful doctors, that they are ultra conservative and ethical.) If they find a problem and recommend lenses, vision therapy or some other course of treatment, it's because the problem is there.
Eye Turns and Lazy Eye: If your child has an eye that turns, especially when they're tired, don't wait. Click on one of the links, call and talk with the doctor or their chief therapist about the problem immediately. The longer these problems go untreated, the harder they become to fix. An initial evaluation is relatively inexpensive. Finally, the success rate for restoring full binocular vision (both eyes working together for maximum input and full-brain processing power) for vision therapy is about 70 percent. The rate for eye muscle surgery alone is about 17 percent, although some surgeons score higher by having the patient do vision therapy before surgery.
Who to contact:
oep.org This organization provides post doctoral training in behavioral / developmental optomety
covd.org This organization provides certification and education in the field.
pave.org This organization consists of parents whose children succeeded because of vision therapy.
http://www.visiontherapystories.org/ Stories from parents whose children received vision therapy
Or you can reach us at the following email address. We'll be delighted to help
you understand the problem and find someone to help you resolve it.
CONTACT US: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Lecoq Practice Development
Apple Valley, CA 92307
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