Eyeglasses May Not Be the Answer
to Your Child's Vision Problem
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.
I Read...I Succeed Kit
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.
Learn how vision therapy
activities can help your child to
read "at or above grade level" in
just 10 minutes a day!
Vision Topics