Building confidence in children is critical to their success. However, children with poorly developed visual skills tend to lack confidence in their abilities. They may struggle to keep up in school, finding it difficult to concentrate in the classroom, or be unable to catch a ball when playing on the sports field.
Fortunately, vision therapy can help children (and adults) develop the specific visual skills they lack, offering them the best opportunities to enhance their comprehension, increase their reading level and attention span, and improve their sports performance.
This, in turn, directly impacts their confidence levels.
How Does Vision Therapy Work?
The primary goal of vision therapy is to improve the child’s visual skills. A child can have 20/20 vision and yet have underdeveloped visual skills. Poor visual skills impede the ability of the eyes, brain, and body to work as a team. Vision therapy develops and enhances this communication, allowing people with visual dysfunction to process and react to visual information faster and more efficiently.
Vision Therapy Process
A vision therapy program consists of visual exercises specifically tailored to the patient’s individual visual needs. Depending on the type and level of visual dysfunction, the eye doctor will prescribe a personalized program of exercises to develop the communication between the brain and the visual system. Eye doctors also use tools such as specialized optical lenses, eye patches, prisms, balance boards, and digital simulations to train the brain-eye connection.
There are several visual skills that vision therapy helps to improve. These include:
- Saccades - the eyes’ ability to move quickly or “jump” between two or more focus points. This skill is crucial for reading, as children need to be able to move their eyes along a straight line without straying to other lines.
- Pursuits or Tracking - the eyes’ ability to smoothly track a moving target. This skill allows a child’s eyes to glide along with a page and also to catch, hit, or kick a moving ball.
- Convergence - the eyes’ ability to work together as a team in order to focus on a nearby object like a book or computer screen..
- Accommodation Flexibility - the eyes’ ability to continuously change focus between near and distant objects. This is the skill required when a child looks at the blackboard and then copies the writing into a notebook.
- Accommodation - The eyes’ ability to maintain focus on close-up activities. This skill is needed for homework and for using a computer for many hours.
- Visual Memory - The ability to remember words and information. Good visual memory is essential for spelling.
- Color Perception - The ability to distinguish between various colors. This skill is essential for the accurate interpretation of color-coded materials, such as graphs and charts.
- Fine Visual-Motor - The ability to engage in close-up activities with accuracy and comfort. This skill is needed for reading, writing, cutting with scissors, and assembling a puzzle.
- Visual Integration - The ability to combine your vision with your other senses to perform complex tasks. This skill is required to process various forms of visual information accurately and quickly. Visual integration is crucial for a student copying from the board and analyzing the information.
Confidence And Success Building
Developing visual skills can help children meet the demands of school, improve their grades, and allow them to gain confidence in the classroom. Vision therapy can also lead to improved hand-eye coordination and allow them to have more fun on the sports field. In fact, vision therapy can be a key component in preparing children for higher education. As they master new skills, they feel more confident in their abilities.
Keep in mind that school eye screenings and most regular eye exams evaluate eyesight, but do not assess the essential visual skills required for sports, reading, and learning. Only a comprehensive vision exam can determine whether a child has poor visual skills. Contact The St. Catharines Vision Therapy Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry to book a vision exam to assess your child’s visual skills. We can create a tailor-made vision therapy program to help your child succeed and reach their full potential.