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In the News
NAACP Passes Resolution on
Optometric Vision Therapy
AURORA, Ohio, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A routine visit
to the eye doctor resulted in a national resolution that was passed by the
NAACP at its 100th Anniversary Convention held in New York City,
endorsing optometric vision therapy as a way to help some prisoners
become productive members of society.

When Charles Brittingham, President of the Wilmington, DE Branch of
the NAACP, went for his yearly eye exam, he was amazed to learn how
vision problems can impact academic performance, contribute to high
school dropout rates, juvenile delinquency and prison recidivism. Once
he learned how these vision problems can be treated, and read what
parents and children had to say about how their lives were changed
academically, behaviorally and even emotionally by receiving
optometric vision therapy, he knew he had to do something.

Working together with his optometrist and life NAACP member, Dr.
Alton A. Williams, Brittingham wrote a resolution that was passed
unanimously by the NAACP Delaware branch. The resolution
acknowledged the role that vision therapy can play in reducing the high
rate of recidivism and encouraged members to "take aggressive action
to have Vision Therapy included in all re-entry programs for formerly
incarcerated persons." But that wasn't enough for Brittingham, he
wanted to make sure that this issue received national attention.

Christine Waters, Education Committee Chairperson, NAACP Freeport
Roosevelt, Long Island, NY, spoke in support of this resolution,
"...current research indicates that approximately 1 in 4 children has
vision disorders that interfere with their ability to learn. The problems
can exist and yet teachers and parents are not aware of them. The
symptoms mimic attention deficit disorder, and so I move that... we
adopt this resolution." In addition, Waters proposed amendments that
focused on prevention, which were also passed unanimously.

Waters, a teacher at Barnum Woods in East Meadow, NY with 30 years
of experience in elementary education, knows firsthand the impact that
vision problems can have on a child's education. Nine years ago vision
therapy changed her son's life. He used to complain about headaches,
and struggle with completing class work and homework. She had no idea
that he was seeing double images when he tried to read. Like most
children, he had no idea that wasn't normal vision. Once his vision
problem was corrected through vision therapy he became more
confident and was able to complete required tests, class work and
homework. This past May he graduated from the University of Hartford
with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts and Music Education. Without
vision therapy this would not have been possible.

The NAACP resolution calls for its members and units to educate the
community, elected officials and correctional facilities about the merits
of optometric vision therapy in helping to reduce the recidivism rate in
some prisoners thereby increasing opportunities for persons reentering
society.

According to the American Optometric Association, over 60% of children
who have difficulty with learning have undiagnosed vision problems
which are not detectable by routine vision screenings. Dr. Carol Scott, a
developmental optometrist from Springfield Missouri and President of
the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), shares,
"Considering that 85 percent of all juvenile delinquents nationwide have
reading difficulties, it is vital that everyone support the NAACP and
ensure that not only are juvenile delinquents and prisoners screened for
learning related vision problems, but all children who have any difficulty
with learning; even the bright underachievers."

"I applaud the NAACP for acknowledging vision therapy as a valid
treatment for the outcomes it is able to achieve," said ophthalmologist
and NAACP member from Delaware, Dr. Bruce Sumlin, "Optometric
vision therapy makes sense. It is very similar to other kinds of
treatment and therapies we provide in the medical disciplines which
help to develop neural connections in the brain."

John B. Ferguson III, MD, a Delaware ophthalmologist who has been in
practice for over 34 years, was not always a strong believer in vision
therapy. When asked what made him change his mind, Dr. Ferguson
shared, "Among ophthalmologists, vision therapy has been thought to be
reserved for certain eye muscle disorders. I was unaware, and I believe
many other ophthalmologists are also unaware, of the significant effects
that these eye muscle disorders have on the attitude and behavior of
some children. I thought that at the most these children, if left
untreated, might experience headaches or read less efficiently.
However, I had the opportunity to speak with children and the parents
of children who went through vision therapy and I was very impressed
by the dramatic and positive academic and behavioral changes they
experienced."
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Vision Topics
SOURCE: College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD)
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