Eyeglasses May Not Be the Answer
to Your Child's Vision Problem
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Training the Eyes (and Brain) to See

When we think of correcting vision problems, we often think of
eyeglasses or contact lenses. But they can't be used to treat
some vision disorders. Sometimes a program of eye exercises
called vision therapy is needed to provide clear, comfortable,
and efficient vision.
Eye Power: An Updated
Report on Vision Therapy
Eyeglasses or contact lenses are usually prescribed to compensate
for blurred vision caused by eyesight problems like
nearsightedness
, farsightedness, or astigmatism. If your child is
having difficulty seeing the chalkboard in school, or has difficulty
focusing on close-work, eyeglasses may be the answer.

But vision therapy, also called visual training, does more than just
compensate for an eyesight problem. It can actually change how
the eyes work. Vision therapy trains the eyes to focus, move, and
work together and enhances how the brain uses information it gets
from the eyes.

Vision Therapy Changes How a Child Sees

Vision therapy helps a child obtain vital vision skills by practicing
them repeatedly in a supervised learning situation. This multi-step
process involves relearning how to see. It is sometimes necessary
for a child to unlearn incorrect or inefficient seeing habits and gain
improved ones.

Vision therapy uses many different visual activities, which are
practiced under controlled viewing conditions. Lenses, prisms,
filters and occluders are used to alter normal seeing patterns, and
allow a child to learn and relearn specific visual abilities. Specialized
training equipment and devices, including computer based
programs, may be used. The training activities provide feedback,
which allows a child to monitor his or her own performance and
respond appropriately.

Some activities may seem more like games than therapy. They can
involve tasks like following a swinging ball with the eyes while
balancing on a walking rail, or tracing pictures while wearing special
red-green glasses that allow each eye to only see parts of the total
picture. Other training activities use more complex equipment like
electronic display boards with randomly flashing lights,
stereoscopic viewers that present different images to each eye and
computer-based programs that involve 3-D tasks.

The length of time required to complete a vision therapy program
varies. It depends upon the type of vision problem being treated,
how long the condition has existed, and the level of participation by
the child. From three to six months is typical.

Could Vision Therapy Help My Child?

The only way to know if vision therapy can help your child is to
have his/her vision examined. A comprehensive vision examination
should evaluate eye focusing, eye teaming, eye tracking and visual
perceptual abilities to determine if a program of vision therapy is
needed and can be beneficial.

When scheduling a vision exam, keep in mind that not all eye
doctors offer vision therapy services. This area of specialized vision
care requires additional training and equipment. If your eye doctor
does not provide vision therapy services, ask for a referral to a
doctor who does.
This book is an easy to read,
informative guide to the use and
benefits of vision therapy.
TM
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