Do all Eye Doctors offer Vision Therapy?
Vision Therapy is part of a core curriculum at all schools and colleges of optometry, so all eye doctors have some exposure to it. Some doctors choose to further their studies in VT through internships, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), and continuing education. Because of the time and resources that Office Based Vision Therapy requires, many doctors do not offer Vision Therapy in their office but choose to refer to other doctors who do.
My child is struggling in school. Could this be a vision-related issue?
Yes. The American Public Health Association (APHA) estimates that around 25% of children in grades K-6 have a vision-related problem that is serious enough to impede learning. Often, these children have excellent verbal skills but struggle with reading and learning in the classroom. Because of this, many are labeled as ADD/ADHD, lazy, or even learning disabled when, in fact, they simply have an undiagnosed vision problem.
My child has always passed eye tests at school and at our family eye doctor. How could it be a vision problem?
Vision is much more than each eye being able to read a 20/20 sized row of letters. The coordination needed to keep both eyes aligned, focused, and moving smoothly and efficiently across a page while reading is not something that is detectable in routine vision screenings at school or something that every optometrist screens for. A comprehensive binocular vision evaluation by a Doctor of Optometry who specializes in pediatric eye care is needed to detect these issues.
My child doesn’t have an eye turn, so doesn’t that mean his/her eyes are aligned?
No. The most common form of eye misalignment is called convergence insufficiency (CI) and only occurs when a child spends excessive time looking at a near object, such as a computer or when reading. The child cannot keep their eyes aligned and either will briefly see double, see the words “move” on the page, lose their place, or simply give up. Children with CI do not have a problem aligning their eyes when looking far away, so small, intermittent eye misalignment is rarely noticed by parents or teachers.
Another, less common, condition is a constant, small angle strabismus. This means that the child’s eyes are misaligned at all times, regardless of where they look or how long they look at it. The eye turn, however, is so small that it is difficult for a parent or teacher to detect. These small angle eye turns are uncovered during a comprehensive binocular evaluation.
What are the common symptoms of a learning-related vision problem?
Symptoms typically occur in the afternoon, after school, or after the child has been looking up close (ie computer, homework, or tablet/smart phone) for a period of time.
The most common symptoms are: headaches around the forehead or eyes, tired eyes, losing place when reading, skips or rereads lines, words appear to “move” on page, double vision, disinterest in homework or reading, poor reading comprehension, does poorly on written tests but excellent on verbal tests, letter reversals, adlibs when reading aloud, homework takes longer than it should (short attention span), and trouble with left and right directionality.
Will glasses or contact lenses correct my child’s vision condition?
Glasses most commonly correct a refractive error, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness. Some glasses may be prescribed to wear for near only in order to do some of the focusing for the eyes to keep them relaxed when reading. A pair of glasses for near may be prescribed for your child prior to VT to help the patient early in therapy. However, virtually all conditions treated with VT do not respond to glasses alone.
Will Surgery Help to Align My Child’s Turned Eye?
While strabismus surgery may be appropriate in a few select circumstances, it is typically used as a last resort. Strabismus surgery involves shortening the muscles that control the eye to make the eye appear aligned. Unfortunately, surgery rarely, if ever, aligns eyes well enough to allow the child to have depth perception, use both eyes together, or improve their school work. It is considered for cosmetic purposes only. Since we aren’t addressing the underlying issue that caused the eye to turn in the first place, the eye usually will turn again after the initial surgery and require subsequent surgeries.
How Long Until We See Results? Do Results Last Forever?
Improvement is often noted beyond the halfway mark of VT. Because VT is programmed to be progressively more difficult, the first several weeks are designed to introduce concepts rather than focus on results. Improvements made in VT last a lifetime. VT simply makes the child more aware of their visual system and how they can control it. Ultimately, they have complete control over their visual system once we teach them how.
Is VT covered by my medical insurance?
It has been our experience that there is no consistent answer to this question, as it varies between insurances, states, and even for different eye conditions. We do not contract with medical insurances for Vision Therapy but do provide you with all the necessary documentation needed to file an out-of-network claim, should you choose to do so.