Did you know that our visual perceptual skills can be strengthened? We can improve them, making them more efficient and accurate.
Vision therapy is a doctor-supervised program. What’s perhaps most exciting is that it works for children too.
Children can experience a number of issues with their sight, many of which can be successfully treated through vision therapy. For parents, the possibility of improving and strengthening a child’s vision is promising news indeed.
Often, visual and perceptual problems can be missed by a simple eye exam. Many are surprised to learn that even if a child has 20/20 vision, they can still have underlying vision problems.
Some of these are functional vision problems. It could be the eyes themselves, how they move individually and together, as well as the ability to focus.
Children who are having difficulty often suffer physical symptoms. They may experience headaches or eye fatigue, or have short attention spans. Tasks like reading and writing are extremely difficult for them, if not exhausting, which can lead to frustration and behavioural problems.
Functional vision problems can affect a child’s success in school, sports and daily life. We all need our eyes to be able to team, track and focus well and to have good hand-eye co-ordination. Therapy can help improve non-refractive vision problems such as eye tracking, eye alignment and lazy eye through the use of individualized programs.
Dr. Marianne Hopkins, OD, PhD, recently joined Dr. Robertson-Woods & Associates in Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines as the new practice owner. She has a special interest in vision therapy for children and is a certified Vision Therapy Optometrist.
The therapy is a non-invasive and non-surgical treatment that is also very effective; it’s based on our ability to learn and adapt. Because the human brain can change its structure and function to accommodate new information and abilities, it allows us to learn new skills quickly and easily. This concept – neuroplasticity – is the basis of vision therapy’s success.
While eyeglasses and contact lenses can treat refractive errors, corrective lenses can’t fix other vision conditions. The vision therapy program consists of several special eye exercises that are aimed at correcting specific vision issues and eye disorders. Basically, it trains the visual system to correct itself. The program of progressive eye exercises is individualized for each patient.
Vision therapy can be used to treat conditions like strabismus (eye turns) and amblyopia (lazy eye), as well as eye movement, focus and co-ordination problems. Typically, sessions take place in the optometrist’s office weekly and use tools such as therapeutic lenses or prisms.
Often the child will be asked to practise certain exercises or activities at home as well, in order to reinforce the skills that are being developed. The program usually lasts six to nine months and patient timelines are crafted as part of a personalized program.
Vision therapy is approved by the Canadian Association of Optometrists and has been scientifically proven to improve functional vision skills.
To find out if your child is a good candidate for vision therapy, contact the eye care professionals at Dr. Hopkins, Dr. Robertson-Woods & Associates St. Catharines office.