Amy E. Carlyle, OD
Virginia Vision Therapy Center
Has your child struggled with reading or writing? Do you find that a little homework takes hours of time? Do you receive reports from school that your child – although brilliant in conversation – is suffering in grades, fails to sit still, and causes disruptions? Your child’s ability to see plays a role in all aspects of life, including learning in school. If you suspect there may be problems with your child’s eye development, vision therapy may be an option.
There are many eye disorders which can impair your child’s ability to learn. One of them is a binocular disorder. Many times a child has 20/20 vision in each eye, yet when using both eyes together they have difficulty keeping print clear, single, and comfortable at near. These children often resist near work completely which can be interpreted as behavior, attention, or even learning disabilities, when instead there is a vision problem interfering with their ability to use their eyes together and process information. When you consider that up to 80 percent of learning in the classroom takes place through vision, clearly this has huge significance in the education of children.
The most common binocular disorder which leads to difficulties reading and focusing on items close to the eyes is convergence insufficiency. When looking at something at close range, the eyes normally turn inward to converge on the item being looked at. In someone with convergence insufficiency, the eyes are unable to turn in efficiently and this leads to difficulty seeing the item.
When a child has such a vision disorder, glasses alone are not going to get to the source of the problem. Vision therapy uses exercises and activities to address the underlying neurological coordination of the eyes and the processing of information from the eyes to the brain, which is where we truly “see”.
If you are baffled because your child is passing 20/20 vision tests, but still complains about reading the chalkboard or worksheets, has headaches or blurred vision, or is just plain struggling in academics, an exam by a developmental optometrist may provide your answer.