A wide array of vision issues, some often undiagnosed, can negatively impact children’s ability to read and learn. In such cases, vision therapy can be life-changing. Often referred to as physical therapy for the eyes, vision therapy can help children with amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), and other eye movement disorders that are not readily apparent without an exam from a vision therapy specialist. This unique diagnostic screening differs from the standard vision exam in which you read letters on a chart.
Vision therapy does more than just correct vision problems with glasses; it helps the brain process what the eyes see more efficiently to help improve your child’s ability to learn and focus.
What is vision therapy?
Known by many names, including visual therapy, vision training, and visual training, vision therapy is a customized program designed to improve a child’s visual skills as they relate to learning. The strategy includes training both the eyes and the brain.
Vision therapy sessions are conducted in combination with glasses or other optical devices because this strategy treats issues beyond just vision impairments like nearsightedness or astigmatism. After your child’s visual function has been improved, vision therapy seeks to help them develop the cognitive ability to convert what their eyes see into information that the brain can process.
Is vision therapy right for my child?
If you suspect your child might benefit from vision therapy, contact McDonald Eye Care Associates to schedule an evaluation. Doctors Anthony or Molly McDonald are behavioral optometrists who specialize in diagnosing vision-related learning issues.
During your child’s evaluation, Dr. McDonald conducts a comprehensive eye exam that includes testing your child’s visual activity, optics, ability to focus, and visual motor skills to determine if a customized vision therapy program may address your child’s vision and learning issues.
In addition to his own evaluation, Dr. McDonald also takes into account the observations and thoughts of the child’s parents and teachers.
Indications that you might want to consider vision therapy for your child include:
- Persistent eye strain
- Difficulty concentrating, especially while reading
- Decreased comprehension with reading
- Poor distance vision after concentrated near/computer work
- Skipping lines/flipping letters
- Words floating/moving in a page
Many parents and children don’t immediately connect frequent headaches and trouble concentrating with vision issues, but Dr. McDonald can provide a thorough evaluation to determine whether eye problems are indeed to blame.
How long does vision therapy take?
Visual therapy is not a quick-fix solution, and the length of the program depends on the extent and type of your child’s visual problems.
Both child and parent must work together with the doctor to correct the vision issue and address any associated learning problems by regularly attending therapy sessions. These sessions are typically held one time per week for 20-25 weeks. It’s also important to diligently do any at-home exercises prescribed by the doctor.
If you complete your vision therapy program as directed for the prescribed amount of time, it can help correct reading issues and reduce eye strain, headaches, and other problems that can interfere with effective learning. Your child will also be able to process visual information more efficiently and effectively.
For more information on how vision therapy can help your child, call McDonald Eye Care Associates in Lakeville, Minnesota, or book an appointment online.