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Vision Therapy

10% of Children Have Undetected Vision Problems

teacher helping a child with Undetected Vision ProblemsAlmost every classroom has children who struggle more than their peers, whether academically, socially or [behaviorally].

What many parents and teachers don’t realize is that these kids may have a visual skill deficit that’s triggering their struggles.

Experts estimate that 1 in 10 children will go through early childhood with an undiagnosed visual problem that can lead to learning and behavioral problems.

That’s why it’s crucial to have a struggling child evaluated by a developmental optometrist to rule out, identify and treat any visual dysfunction with vision therapy.

At Excel Eyecare OD PA, we believe that educating parents and teachers about the warning signs of visual dysfunction is the first step toward ensuring that every child with a visual deficit is given the treatment they need to thrive.

Why Are Vision Problems So Commonly Overlooked?

Children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, often lack the verbal skills necessary to communicate a visual problem.

And even if they’re able to communicate, most kids may simply assume that their vision is fine, and that they see the world the way everybody else does.

School vision screenings also play a role here.

These basic screenings really only test a child’s eyesight, or visual acuity — how clearly they see distant objects. What the screenings fail to test are the rest of the 16 visual skills necessary for healthy development and learning. Some examples are eye tracking, focusing, convergence and eye teaming.

In other words, a child can pass the school’s vision screening with flying colors and still have a visual skills deficit that can negatively affect learning and behavior.

Telltale Signs of Visual Dysfunction In Children

So, how do you know if your child or student has a visual problem?

While the only way to know for sure is through a functional visual evaluation, there are some signs and symptoms to watch for that may warrant a call to Excel Eyecare OD PA.

A child with visual skills deficits may experience any of the following medical symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Eyestrain
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness
  • Poor hand-eye coordination or clumsiness
Behavioral/academic problems that can arise due to vision problems include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Inattentiveness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Refusal or hesitation to do homework
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Skips lines or words when reading
  • Frequent eye rubbing and head tilting

If a child displays any of the above symptoms, call ​​Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte to schedule a functional visual evaluation.

How Does Vision Therapy Work

If a visual deficit is detected, we may recommend vision therapy as the best treatment option.

Vision therapy is a customized treatment program that trains the eyes and brain to communicate seamlessly. When the eyes don’t send a unified message to the brain, or the brain has difficulty processing incoming visual information, vision therapy works by correcting those pathways at the source.

During a vision therapy session, your child will be shown and instructed to do several eye exercises to strengthen the visual system. Vision therapy sessions are done in-office, but certain eye exercises should be [practiced] at home, in-between visits.

Vision therapy has been clinically shown to effectively treat eye misalignment disorders, lazy eye (amblyopia), focusing problems, convergence insufficiencies and ocular motor dysfunctions.

Our skilled and friendly optometric team has lots of experience working with children of all ages and helping them feel safe and comfortable during the entire process.

Make sure that your child isn’t part of the 10% of kids with undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, visual skills deficits. To schedule your child’s functional visual evaluation, contact Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte today!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: How can visual dysfunction affect learning and development?

  • A: An estimated 80% of classroom learning is dependent on vision. Subpar visual skills can impede learning by making it unnecessarily difficult for a child to see the board from their seat, read, write, play sports and interact confidently with their peers. Ultimately, this can lead to reduced self-esteem. Making sure your child’s vision is healthy will set them up for academic, social and overall success.

Q: How long does vision therapy take?

  • A: The length depends on each patient’s individual condition and needs. A vision therapy program can last anywhere from several weeks to a few months. Speak with your eye doctor about how long your vision therapy program is expected to take.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 980-319-1870

Does Your Child Have 20/20 Vision Yet Still Struggles In School?

teacher with kids needing vision therapyYour child aced their school’s vision screening test with 20/20 eyesight. That means perfect vision, right?

Actually, no. 20/20 simply means that your child can clearly see things that are 20 feet away. While that’s good news, clear eyesight doesn’t mean a student has strong visual skills.

There are 17 crucial visual skills that can impact your child’s success in school and on the sports field. Fortunately, most children are able to improve their visual skills with vision therapy.

What Are Visual Skills?

A healthy visual system relies not only on healthy vision, but on the eyes’ ability to move correctly, send the correct information to the brain, and the brain’s ability to interpret this information. If any one of these visual skills is sub-par, it can impact a child’s reading, writing and learning. This, in turn, can harm their motivation and self-confidence.

The visual skills needed to succeed in school (and life) include:

  • Eye movement – the ability to accurately control the eye’s movements
  • Eye teaming – the ability of both eyes to work together
  • Focusing – the ability to maintain clear vision at all distances
  • Peripheral vision – seeing objects at the sides of our vision
  • Saccades – the ability for vision to jump between focal points

When 20/20 Vision Doesn’t Measure Up

When a child scores 20/20 on a simple vision test, problems with visual skills often go unnoticed because basic screenings rarely assess beyond eyesight. It’s no wonder that 1 out of 4 schoolchildren has an undiagnosed vision problem! That’s a lot of children struggling unnecessarily, and well into adulthood.

Only a functional eye exam performed by an eye doctor can detect subpar visual skills.

Signs Your Child Has a Visual Problem

Schedule a functional eye exam if your child:

  • Has learning difficulties
  • Reads below grade level
  • Exhibits behavioral problems
  • Has difficulty paying attention
  • Frequently rubs their eyes or blinks frequently
  • Squints or covers one eye when reading
  • Has poor hand-eye coordination

How Do You Improve Visual Skills in Children?

If your child is diagnosed with any visual skills deficits, their eye doctor may recommend vision therapy. This form of therapy involves the use of specialized eye exercises, prisms, therapeutic lenses and even fun computer-based games that recalibrate how the brain and eyes work together. Vision therapy involves a customized program to meet the individual needs of each child. The therapy is performed in-office and at home between office sessions.

Vision therapy is ideal for kids because their brains are still developing and have greater neuroplasticity (meaning, their brains are more adaptable to change through the strengthening of neural connections).

While the vision therapy program can range from a few weeks to several months, the results last a lifetime.

If your child is struggling to keep up in school or when playing sports, don’t delay and schedule an appointment with Dr. Angela Bergin at Excel Eyecare OD PA.

Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: What is the success rate of vision therapy?

  • A: Vision therapy is a proven method to boost deficient visual skills and treat the visual system. In a multi-center National Eye Institute-funded study, 75% of patients with convergence insufficiency (problems with eye teaming), experienced normal vision or significantly improved symptoms following office-based vision therapy.

Q: Can vision therapy treat strabismus?

  • A: Yes. Vision therapy is the most effective and non-invasive treatment for strabismus— when the eyes don’t fixate or focus on the same place or visual target simultaneously. Eye exercises that train the brain and the eyes to work together can correct the eye turn and may even result in vision improvements, such as 3D vision and binocular depth perception.

References

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 980-319-1870

Should My Child Have Vision Therapy?

Should My Child Have Vision Therapy 640×350Children may fail to recognize that they’re having difficulty reading, or that their eyes are struggling to focus, so it’s up to parents and teachers to be aware of the many visual problems that are common in children of all ages.

About one in four school-aged children has a visual problem, but school vision screenings aren’t equipped to diagnose the majority of visual deficits.

This is concerning, given that visual dysfunction is strongly linked to behavioral problems and poor academic performance. Only a comprehensive eye exam can examine your child’s eyesight, determine whether they have visual deficits and assess whether they can be treated with vision therapy.

What Is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is an evidence-based treatment program developed over decades that has undergone extensive research and clinical trials to prove its effectiveness.

Vision therapy works by strengthening the communication between the visual system and the brain through a customized program of eye [exercises] prescribed by an eye doctor. Just as physical therapy trains your muscles to function normally, vision therapy applies the same principle to strengthen eye-brain communication. Even children with 20/20 vision can have visual problems, such as eye-tracking, focusing, and eye teaming.

Can Children Undergo Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is ideal for children as it can correct problems early on, while their brains are still developing. Furthermore, vision therapy doesn’t involve invasive procedures or medications, so it’s an appropriate treatment method—even for young children. It’s also engaging for children, as many of the activities and exercises use objects such as prisms, special lenses and computerized exercises.

VT Works Wonders for the Following Vision Conditions:

Vision Therapy for Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)

Strabismus, also known as crossed eye or eye turn, is a condition where the eyes are turned in different directions from each other. One eye might be looking straight while the other is turned in or out. The eye turn might be constant or intermittent.

Vision Therapy for Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia is more commonly known as lazy eye and occurs when one eye doesn’t develop the same level of visual acuity as the other eye. Lazy eye results when the brain develops a stronger connection with the clearer eye and fails to process the images sent from the weaker eye. This can eventually lead to permanent vision loss in the weaker eye. Vision therapy works by strengthening the weaker eye to “balance” vision.

Vision Therapy for Accommodative (Focusing) Disorders

Many children struggle to maintain focus for hours on end, impacting their school performance. These eye disorders affect a child’s ability to maintain focus or switch focus between various objects or distances, causing blurred vision and attention difficulties.

Vision Therapy for Eye Movement Disorders

Vision therapy can treat many eye movement disorders, such as eye-tracking problems and more complex eye movement problems characterized by involuntary eye movements, such as nystagmus. Eye movement problems can hamper reading fluency and cause double or blurred vision.

Vision therapy is commonly used to treat a form of eye movement disorder called convergence insufficiency, characterized by the inability to maintain focus on close objects or while reading. This can result in eye strain and reduced concentration, significantly affecting a child’s reading grades and even sports performance.

How Can I Tell Whether My Child Has Vision Problems?

To determine whether your child has a vision problem and can benefit from vision therapy, our Charlotte eye doctor will carry out a comprehensive eye exam, including an assessment of their functional visual skills, lazy eye and more. This test, known as a functional eye exam, goes beyond the standard “20/20” sight test and is performed by eye doctors with experience and years of training in vision therapy.

Once your optometrist determines that vision therapy is the suitable treatment, he or she will create a personalized plan of exercises and eye activities based on the patient’s condition, age and other factors. The therapy typically includes any of the following:

  • Prisms
  • Lenses
  • Filters
  • Balance boards
  • Metronomes
  • Computer-based activities

Sessions last between 45 to 60 minutes and take place once or twice a week, or for less serious conditions, every two weeks. Vision therapy typically lasts a few months.

To find out whether your child has any vision problems or to learn more about vision therapy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Angela Bergin at Excel Eyecare OD PA today!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: Does vision therapy mean my child will no longer need glasses or contact lenses?

  • A: No. Vision therapy performed under the guidance of an optometrist should not be confused with [unauthorized] programs that promise patients they will no longer need glasses or contacts. Vision therapy doesn’t treat refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism that eyewear is often prescribed to correct.

Q: How long will it take before my child sees results from vision therapy?

  • A: Some children experience results from vision therapy in the first week, but it typically takes about six to eight weeks to notice a dramatic change. This, of course, hinges on how consistent the child is with performing exercises during the week.

Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

References

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 980-319-1870

Toys and Games to Help Your Child Succeed in School

Adult and Child Playing Games

If your child is showing signs of a learning difficulty, it is important to rule out an underlying vision problem that may be hindering their ability to successfully complete the tasks required for academic achievement.

Early detection of a vision problem is crucial for preventing years of learning difficulties and feelings of frustration and reduced self-esteem. Contact Excel Eyecare OD PA to book a comprehensive eye exam and assess whether any underperforming visual skills may be interfering with your child’s academic achievement.

Below are a few ideas of toys and games that promote children’s visual skills.

Building Toys

Building toys fuels the imagination develops spatial awareness and spatial organization skills. These skills are useful in understanding maps, geography and geometry, and solving math problems. Spatial awareness is also essential for sports and dancing.

When children build with toys, they also develop hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills and visualization skills.

Popular building toys include Legos, Lincoln Logs, Duplos, Mega Bloks, Magnatiles and Clics.

Games for Visual Processing

Children develop visual processing and reasoning by playing checkers, chess, dominoes and Rush Hour.

Memory games require players to identify pairs from memorized pictures, develop cognitive and visual skills. Puzzles and games strengthen visual skills [utilized] in geometry, math problems and reading comprehension.

Visual processing skills are essential not only in school but in life. They help us navigate using written directions, detect visual patterns, gather clues from the world around us and notice essential details.

Spatial Awareness Games

Spatial awareness is the process by which people become aware of themselves and other objects in the space around them. This is important for developing peripheral vision and a range of visual skills. Playing “ball” sports such as baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball and ping pong develops space perception and hand-eye coordination. These games require a fast reaction and an exact perception of the location of any object around you and how far or close the object is.

In addition to sports, marbles and pick-up sticks also encourage three-dimensional depth perception, which can also improve visual skills such as eye-tracking, eye muscle coordination and focusing.

A Child’s Vision Is Vital for Fun and Learning

Vision involves more than just seeing clearly. It gives children the confidence to join in games and participate in school. Often what appears to be a lack of interest in studies or behavior difficulties can be caused by underdeveloped visual skills.

School vision screenings are rudimentary and aren’t designed to assess a child’s visual skills. Even a child with 20/20 vision can have visual skills deficits.

If you suspect your child is struggling in school, bring them to Excel Eyecare OD PA for a functional vision evaluation.

If an issue with visual functioning is detected, your eye doctor can map out a personalized therapeutic program to suit your child’s needs. Research supports vision therapy as an effective treatment for a wide range of functional vision problems. Vision therapy is like a gym that trains the brain and the eyes to work together and improve eye-brain-body coordination.

For more information or to schedule a functional vision evaluation, call Excel Eyecare OD PA today.

Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: How common are vision problems in children?

  • A: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2 out of every 1,000 people under the age of 25 have a vision impairment and 5.6% of children with learning disabilities have poor visual skills.

Q: What eye conditions can vision therapy treat?

  • A: Vision therapy is a non-surgical, personalized program that corrects vision problems in children and adults. The following conditions are commonly treated using vision therapy:
    – Amblyopia or lazy eye
    – Strabismus or irregular eye alignment
    – Binocular vision problems
    – Focusing problems

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 980-319-1870

Screen Time Can Lead To Eye Strain And Convergence Insufficiency In Children

Computer Screen Which Can Lead to Eyestrain

Now that a couple of years have passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have gotten a clearer picture of the impact that online schooling has had on children’s eyes.

Not only have myopia cases increased, but more children are experiencing symptoms of eye strain and convergence insufficiency due to extended screen time.

Below, we explore what eye strain and convergence insufficiency are, and how vision therapy can help counteract the negative effects of online learning.

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

Prolonged use of digital devices like computers or smartphones can cause a condition called computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain. This condition affects around 50% of adults and children.

Symptoms of digital eye strain include:

  • Sore eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Headaches

Children who complain of any of these symptoms should have their eyes evaluated by a developmental optometrist to ensure that vision problems aren’t exacerbating their symptoms.

What is Convergence Insufficiency?

Normally, when your eyes focus on a very near object, like a pencil near your nose, they must point slightly inwards to see a unified and clear image.

With convergence insufficiency, the eyes aren’t able to work in unison to point inward. Instead, one eye may point outward when trying to focus on a near object, leading to blurred or double vision.

Children with convergence insufficiency may struggle to perform visually demanding near tasks like reading and homework. In fact, many children who have vision-related learning problems are often misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities.

How Does Screen Time Lead to Eye Strain and Convergence Insufficiency?

Experts at Wills Eye Hospital recently studied the correlation between prolonged screen time and its effects on children’s eyes. They surveyed 110 students aged 10-17 who attended classes online. Prior to the beginning of online sessions, the students all had healthy vision.

The researchers discovered that the number of hours spent in front of a screen directly correlated to the likelihood of developing digital eye strain and convergence insufficiency. More than half of the students experienced symptoms of both visual conditions, with 17% of cases being severe convergence insufficiency.

These important and timely findings should alert parents to the risks that come with online learning, and encourage them to find solutions and take preventative measures to keep their kids’ eyes healthy. Fortunately, that’s where vision therapy comes in.

How Can Vision Therapy Help?

Vision therapy trains the eyes and brain to work together efficiently to resolve a wide range of visual dysfunctions.

Restoring healthy binocular vision is the goal for children with convergence insufficiency, and vision therapy is a primary treatment for accomplishing that.

According to the National Eye Institute, most children with convergence insufficiency experience significant improvement after just 12 weeks of vision therapy.

Vision therapy can also be effective for treating symptoms of digital eye strain in children. According to the Optometrists Network, a free and extensive online library for eye care, vision therapy can relieve symptoms of digital eye strain by strengthening the visual system.

To learn more about the benefits of vision therapy or to schedule your child’s functional visual evaluation, contact Excel Eyecare OD PA today!

Excel Eyecare OD PA offers vision therapy to patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: What is a functional vision evaluation?

  • A: A functional visual evaluation assesses a multitude of visual skills that normally aren’t tested in standard eye exams or vision screenings. Some examples of those visual skills include convergence, eye tracking and teaming, visual processing, eye movement, focusing, eye alignment and accommodation flexibility.

Q: Who is a candidate for vision therapy?

  • A: Children and adults who have varying degrees of visual dysfunction are ideal candidates for vision therapy. Many patients may not be aware of problems with their visual systems but suffer from symptoms like headaches or dizziness, which may be rooted in their vision. Children with learning problems or any visual symptoms may benefit from a customized vision therapy program.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 980-319-1870

Children’s Vision and Learning Awareness

Children’s Vision and Learning Awareness 640×350Brain scans show that up to 80% of the sensory input that the brain receives comes through vision. In fact, no other sense takes up as much brainpower or contributes to learning as much as vision does.

So, if a child is having learning difficulties, it may be time to take a closer look at how well their visual system is functioning.

How are Vision and Learning Linked?

Experts agree that the majority of classroom learning is based on a child’s vision and the functioning of their visual system. Optimal visual skills allow a child to read easily, process visual information efficiently and concentrate for extended periods of time.

Children with visual problems may experience difficulties with writing, reading, math, sports and even social skills. Poor vision can also cause a child to withdraw in the classroom and shy away from raising their hand to answer questions.

What Can Parents Do for Their Children’s Vision?

Know the Warnings Signs to Watch For

Bring your child to your family’s optometrist if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Reading or learning difficulties
  • Poor attention or concentration
  • Frequent eye rubbing
  • Disinterest or refusal to engage in visually demanding activities
  • Squinting or closing one eye while reading
  • Frequent head tilting
  • Headaches or eye strain
  • Short attention span, especially when reading
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Poor hand-eye coordination

Schedule Regular Eye Exams

A child’s vision can change rapidly. The only way to detect changes in your child’s visual system is through regular comprehensive eye exams with an optometrist. Even the most motivated child may not be aware that something is wrong with their vision and believe that they see the way everyone else does.

Parents, please take note: School vision screenings are not enough, as they only check for a handful of vision problems and don’t take into account the important visual skills needed for efficient learning. Moreover, school vision screenings fail to identify up to 75% of children with visual problems.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to your child, it’s recommended that they get their vision evaluated with an optometrist annually, or as often as their eye doctor recommends.

Consider Vision Therapy

If your child is diagnosed with a vision problem, there is hope!

Your optometrist may recommend a custom-made vision therapy program to target the root cause of the issue and correct the problem. Children who complete vision therapy often do better in school, start to enjoy reading and have more confidence.

If your child is struggling with any aspect of classroom learning or homework or is exhibiting behavioral problems, bring them in for a functional vision assessment to rule out visual dysfunction as an underlying cause or contributor.

To schedule your child’s appointment and learn more about what we offer, call Excel Eyecare OD PA today!

Excel Eyecare OD PA serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: What is vision therapy?

  • A: Vision therapy is an in-office series of visual exercises that help enhance and strengthen the communication between the brain and eyes. This specialized form of vision care helps treat adults and children with conditions like crossed-eyes and eye-turn, as well as problems with eye tracking, eye teaming, convergence insufficiency and hand-eye coordination, among others.

Q: How long does a vision therapy program last?

  • A: There is no set length of time since each case varies depending on the type and severity of the visual condition. Patients can see results within a few sessions but may continue treatment for several months. Generally speaking, once a child completes a vision therapy program, he or she experiences lasting results.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 980-319-1870