Pediatrics & Vision Therapy
We follow the American Optometric philosophy that children should be examined by an eye care professional at their first and third birthdays. Our doctors and staff immensely enjoy working with young children. The Ophthalmic examination is designed or based largely on the patient’s age and chief complaint. We combine state-of-the art equipment with vast experience that allows objective analysis, even when the child is less than enthused about getting his or her eyes examined. A pediatric examination can take anywhere from thirty to sixty minutes at our office. Much of vision is developmental in nature. In many instances, environmental factors significantly impact a child’s development of vision, eyesight and his or her ability to learn and thrive in the learning environment.It is estimated that as much as 80% of all learning during a child's first 12 years is achieved through their visual system.
We readily and regularly communicate with school officials, pediatricians and other health professionals associated with each child patient. For those children requiring eyeglasses, our eyewear collections for children are extensive with a great selection of both inexpensive and pediatric designer eyewear.
Our Vision Therapy sessions, including Orthoptics (Vision Rehabilitation) and visual perceptual development, are scheduled weekly through most of the school year. Our therapists include staff trained as teachers, who are experienced in education and analysis of vision and perceptual problems.As behavioral optometrists we feel that, in many instances, we are able to make a major impact in the course of a child’s development. The tools we use include lenses, prisms, home, office and computer therapy, when indicated. It is our passion for influencing the relationship between learning and vision that fuels our commitment to all of our pediatric patients.
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision therapy is a doctor-supervised, non-surgical and customized program of visual activities designed to correct certain vision problems and/or improve visual skills.
Unlike eyeglasses and contact lenses, which simply compensate for vision problems, or eye surgery that alters the anatomy of the eye or surrounding muscles, vision therapy aims to "teach" the visual system to correct itself. Vision therapy is like physical therapy for the visual system, including the eyes and the parts of the brain that control vision.
Vision therapy can include the use of lenses, prisms, filters and computer-assisted visual activities. Other devices, such as balance boards, metronomes and non-computerized visual instruments also can play an important role in a customized vision therapy program.
It is important to note that vision therapy is not defined by a simple list of tools and techniques. Successful vision therapy outcomes are achieved through a therapeutic process that depends on the active engagement of the prescribing doctor, the vision therapist, the patient and (in the case of children) the child's parents.
Overall, the goal of vision therapy is to treat vision problems that cannot be treated successfully with eyeglasses, contact lenses and/or surgery alone, and help people achieve clear, comfortable binocular vision.
Who is Vision Therapy for?
Vision therapy is safe, drug-free, and effective for both children and adults! While visual acuity (the "20/20" part of vision) requires glasses to improve, visual skills such as tracking together along a line of text must be learned during development, these skills can also be improved later in life at any age. Vision Therapy can benefit many patients with the following:
- Amblyopia. Also called "lazy eye," amblyopia is a vision development problem where an eye fails to attain normal visual acuity, usually due to strabismus or other problems of eye teaming.
- Strabismus. The success of vision therapy for strabismus depends on the direction, magnitude and frequency of the eye turn. VT has been proven effective for treating an intermittent form of strabismus called convergence insufficiency, which is an inability to keep the eyes properly aligned when reading despite good eye alignment when looking at distant objects.
- Other binocular vision problems. Subtle eye alignment problems called phorias that may not produce a visible eye turn but still can cause eye strain and eye fatigue when reading also can be minimized or corrected with vision therapy.
- Eye movement disorders. Studies have shown vision therapy can improve the accuracy of eye movements used during reading and other close-up work.
- Accommodative (focusing) disorders. Other research shows near-far focusing skills can be improved with vision training.
- Other problems. Other vision problems for which vision therapy may be effective include visual-perceptual disorders, vision problems associated with developmental disabilities and vision problems associated with acquired brain injury (such as from a stroke).
What are the first steps?
If you think your child has a vision problem that may be affecting his or her performance in school or sports, the first step is to schedule a routine eye exam to rule out nearsightedness, farsightedness, and of astigmatism. If the basic eye exam suggests that no glasses are needed (or there is no change in your child's current eyeglasses prescription) and each eye has 20/20 visual acuity, be aware that a vision problem still may exist. The eye chart used in routine eye exams tests only a person's distance vision and does not test all critical aspects of visual performance.
For a thorough analysis of your child's vision, including tests that evaluate vision skills needed for efficient reading, consider scheduling a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist who specializes in binocular vision, vision therapy and/or vision development.
Examinations used to diagnose non-refractive vision problems differ from routine eye exams provided by most optometrists and ophthalmologists. Usually they are longer and include a number of tests of eye teaming, depth perception, focusing, eye movements and visual-motor and/or visual-perceptual skills.
At the end of the exam, the doctor should give you a detailed assessment of your child's vision and visual skills. If vision problems are identified and a program of vision therapy is recommended, be sure to get information about the likely duration of the therapy and success rates for the specific type of vision therapy being recommended. Also, ask what criteria are used to define "successful" treatment.
Finally, request details about the expected cost of the therapy program, and whether any of the costs will be covered by your health insurance or vision insurance policy. In many cases, vision therapy is not a covered benefit in insurance programs.