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Vision Therapy

How to Know If Your Child Has a Functional Vision Problem

Functional Vision ProblemMany parents mistakenly assume that if their children have excellent eyesight, their visual system is functioning normally. Yet even if children have 20/20 vision, they may experience problems with their functional vision — how the eyes and brain work together to perform many everyday tasks.

Being aware of your child’s functional vision problems and addressing them is vital because well developed visual function means the eye and brain are communicating effectively. This is key to learning in class and throughout life. Functional vision problems can leave children feeling frustrated, cause difficulties with maintaining concentration and hinder their ability to reach their potential.

Symptoms of Functional Vision Problems

Children who have a visual function problem may:

  • Frequently rub their eyes
  • Experience persistent headaches
  • See double images
  • Seem overly fatigued
  • Cover one eye in the classroom, especially while reading, and doing homework
  • Tilt their head to see

While reading, they may:

  • Read slower than their classmates
  • Have reduced reading comprehension
  • Lose their place on the page
  • Hold written material or a digital screen too close to their faces
  • Avoid reading altogether

Problems with functional vision may force children to compensate by covering one eye or tilting their head to avoid the symptoms and make a task easier.

Such struggles cause fatigue of the eyes and body, along with headaches.

Possible Causes of Functional Vision Problems and How to Address Them

Your children’s functional vision requires the following visual skills. During a comprehensive visual function examination we will check for:

Convergence. Both eyes looking at and focusing on a nearby object, such as a book or computer screen

Tracking. Both eyes moving together as a task demands, such as following the words across a page or the arc of a basketball shot

Accommodation. Both eyes maintaining focus on an object as it moves closer or farther away

Alignment. Both eyes properly lining up so that they see the same object and send the same image to the brain

Fortunately, we can get your child back to enjoying school, reading and other activities. Bring your child in for an eye exam with Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes, who also will conduct a comprehensive examination for functional vision. This test is different from the standard vision screening your child likely receives in school, and is more extensive than a regular eye exam.

If we detect the shortfalls mentioned above, we’ll recommend vision therapy and then prescribe a customized program. Vision therapy is a month-long program made up of in-office and at-home exercises. These exercises, when done regularly and diligently, will significantly improve your child’s convergence, tracking, accommodation, and alignment, and get their visual functioning where it needs to be to enjoy daily activities and succeed in school.

When that happens, expect your child to request many more trips to the library!

Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric provides vision therapy for children with functional vision challenges from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Sacramento, and throughout California .

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Can At-Home Learning Cause Vision Problems in Children?

Home LearningMillions of schoolchildren are studying at home in coronavirus-dictated on-line classes. While squinting at the blackboard is less common for now, remote learning presents students with other vision challenges. The most common problem is digital eye strain — also called computer vision syndrome. Spending many hours indoors has also been linked to the rapid progression of myopia, the elongation of the eye that causes nearsightedness.

These problems are especially worrying because children are spending an estimated 50% more time on-line compared to the days before the coronavirus.

Digital eye strain results from the prolonged use of digital screens. The eye strain then causes headaches, blurriness, dry eyes, difficulties with concentration, and neck and shoulder pain. The effects of digital eye strain are also worsened by any existing eye conditions — such as astigmatism, uncorrected anisometropia, and uncorrected eye movement problems.im

It’s important that your children undergo a thorough eye exam, and to correct or treat eye conditions that can interfere with their learning, both in the classroom and online.

How Parents Can Help

Conditions that contribute to a child experiencing digital eye strain also include insufficient contrast between characters appearing on the screen and the screen’s background, the amount of glare emitted by the computer or tablet screen, being too close to or too far from the screen, and poor posture.

By monitoring your children’s learning environment and recognizing the signs of digital eye strain, you can prevent or at least minimize the effects of eye strain on your child. The American Optometric Association recommends:

  • Adjusting the device so that the center of the screen is approximately 5 inches below the eyes and 20–28 inches away
  • Tilting the screen to eliminate glare
  • Employing proper posture, with feet planted firmly on the floor, back straight, and wrists off the keyboard
  • Blinking frequently to keep the eyes moist
  • Taking frequent breaks away from the device (at least every 20 minutes)
  • Shutting devices at least one hour before going to sleep

Research has shown that children who spend significant time playing in the sunshine experience slower myopia progression than children who stay indoors. So make sure your children get plenty of sunshine, weather permitting.

 

 

If your children haven’t yet undergone their annual comprehensive start-of-school eye exam, schedule an appointment with Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes. We’ll advise you and your children on how to keep their vision clear and comfortable and their eyes healthy during this extended period of at-home learning. Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric helps parents and children from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Elk Grove, and throughout California .

References:

 

Will Wearing Glasses Weaken My Eyes?

young child reading a book 640×350Some people mistakenly believe that wearing glasses weakens our eyesight. While glasses correct vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, they cause our eyesight to deteriorate.

The misunderstanding may be due to mixing up cause and effect. Getting new glasses will help you see more clearly, but you may need a stronger prescriptiona year or two later. If you think your glasses weakened your vision, let us tell you that it is simply not the case. It is perfectly natural for children and adults to experience vision changes as they get older.

If anything, in certain cases it can be damaging not to wear glasses. For children with crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia), glasses help straighten their eyes or improve vision, according to the Mayo Clinic Health System. Not wearing them may lead to an eye turn or lazy eye becoming permanent. In addition, an eye doctor may prescribe special glasses to children during vision therapy, or until a child’s eyes mature. These glasses will strengthen, not weaken the eyes. In many cases, the child won’t need glasses after vision therapy concludes.

Wearing glasses can make all the difference between enjoying a book, comfortably working at a computer or driving with confidence, and experiencing headaches, eye strain, and frustration.

 

Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric makes sure that patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Elk Grove, and throughout California wear the right eyeglasses for their needs.

References:

The 5 Most Common Vision Problems In Children

child taking photographAs children grow, their vision becomes increasingly relevant to their academic and social success. For example, children who have difficulty reading due to a visual problem may shy away from reading aloud in class, fearing ridicule from their classmates. Given that 80% of classroom learning is vision-based, it’s no surprise that even slight visual difficulties can dramatically affect scholastic achievement. For this reason it’s important for parents and teachers to be aware of the most prevalent visual problems that can affect children.

Fortunately, many of these conditions are treatable. At Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric, we treat children with various visual impairments and help them regain the visual ability and confidence they need to succeed.

Here’s our list of the five most common pediatric visual problems that we treat on a daily basis:

1- Refractive Errors

Refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism are the most common visual problems in children today. Myopia and hyperopia impair visual acuity, which is the ability to clearly see objects that are close up or far away. Children with refractive errors may squint, sit too close to the whiteboard or TV screen, or complain that their vision is fuzzy. Prescription lenses are the most effective way to correct refractive errors.

2- Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Binocular vision is the ability to see one image with both eyes working together. When the eyes are aligned perfectly, they send two images to the brain, and the brain creates one clear image. In binocular vision dysfunction (BVD) the eyes have difficulty working together. BVD can produce symptoms similar to a learning disorder and can impact academic success, making it crucial for a child that’s been diagnosed with a learning disorder to undergo a functional eye exam to rule out visual dysfunction as the primary cause of symptoms.

3- Amblyopia

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” occurs when vision in one eye is reduced due to a communication error between the brain and the affected eye. Amblyopia usually involves one eye but in rare cases can affect both. It usually develops in infancy and affects 2-5% of preschool-aged children. It’s time to suspect amblyopia if a child or baby becomes visibly bothered when one eye is covered, has poor depth perception, or is excessively clumsy. It’s recommended that babies have their first eye exam around 6 months of age to confirm that their vision is healthy.

4- Strabismus

Otherwise known as “eye-turn” or “crossed-eyes,” strabismus is an ocular condition where one or both eyes do not focus on the same object at the same time and have trouble maintaining their correct position. Eye misalignment in early childhood can lead to amblyopia, as the brain suppresses the image from the affected eye. Some symptoms of strabismus may include wandering eye (the eyes drift outward) and covering one eye when looking at a near object. Strabismus can result in the child tilting the head to look at an object, and frequently bumping into things. In some children with strabismus, their eyes may appear straight but have difficulty working as a team. This makes it difficult for the eyes to send correct images to the brain.

5- Convergence Insufficiency

Convergence insufficiency (CI) means the eyes have a problem focusing on near or moving objects. Eyes with normal convergence abilities point inwards when focusing on a very nearby object. For example, the closer something moves towards the nose, the more inwards the eyes will point to focus on that object. In cases of CI, the child suffers with fatigue when trying to point inwards, resulting in tiredness, to the point where the child’s reading ability and comprehension are affected. Children with CI will likely have difficulty reading and focusing, and may experience eyestrain or blurred vision.

 

 

How Can Your Optometrist Help?

Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric provides many services and treatments to young patients with visual problems. We offer a wide variety of prescription lenses to correct refractive errors.

We also provide vision therapy to treat conditions such as amblyopia, strabismus, convergence insufficiency, and binocular vision dysfunction. Vision therapy (VT) is a personalized program of in-office treatments and at-home exercises that train the eyes and brain to work in unison.

If you are concerned about your child’s academic or sports performance or think that their visual skills may need strengthening, bring them in for a functional visual evaluation. Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes will assess your child’s visual skills and general ocular health using standardized diagnostic tools for the most accurate examination.

For more information and to schedule an appointment, call Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric today — we look forward to hearing from you!

Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Elk Grove, and throughout California .

 

Is Your Child or Young Adult a Struggling Student?

female student suffering from headache in library 3808057Students of all ages can struggle with focusing and learning problems that can impede their academic success. What many don’t know is that an estimated 80% of students with learning difficulties actually have an undiagnosed visual problem that could be contributing to their academic challenges. Additionally, 80% of a child’s learning in school is vision-based, so a problem with visual skills could negatively affect academic performance. A personalized vision therapy program with Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric can help your child gain the visual skills they need to succeed.

How Can I Tell If My Child Has a Vision Problem?

Your child may display any number of the following symptoms or behaviors due to a vision problem:

  • Frequent head tilting
  • Headaches, dizziness, or eye strain
  • Poor depth perception
  • Tendency to close one eye
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Avoidance of visually demanding tasks
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Easily loses place or skips lines while reading
  • Difficulty judging an object’s size or shape
  • Difficulty focusing for extended periods of time
  • Behavioral issues

It’s important to note that the only way to accurately determine whether your child has a visual problem is to bring them in for a functional visual evaluation where Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes will assess your child’s eye health and various visual skills. If a visual problem is detected, vision therapy may be recommended to treat the issue and restore healthy vision.

How Can Vision Therapy Improve Learning?

Vision therapy is a personalized series of in-house, weekly sessions that are meant to strengthen the eye-brain connection and ensure that both eyes work in unison to create a unified and clear image of their surroundings. Vision therapy has little to do with eye “strength” or visual acuity (distance vision). Rather, it focuses on building and refining other visual skills, such as eye teaming and tracking — skills necessary for efficient reading and learning.

The vision therapist will use various tools to aid in the therapeutic process, such as prisms, filters, balance boards, therapeutic lenses, and more. At the end of each session, the patient will be instructed to perform eye exercises daily until the next session as an at-home component to the program. Progress will be closely monitored to ensure there is an improvement.

By strengthening the eye-brain connection, scholastic tasks like reading and focusing will likely become easier for your child since less effort is needed to perform them. Increased ease in these areas will also boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem. Vision therapy has the potential to transform a struggling student into a thriving one.

Is Your Child or Young Adult a Struggling Student? from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Jump Start Your Child’s Academic Year

The summer months are the optimal time to begin vision therapy sessions to prepare for the upcoming school year. Especially in Covid-19 times, when most of a child’s learning may be on a computer, it’s the perfect time to determine if your child’s struggles are classroom-based or vision-based. Call Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric today to book your child’s consultation with Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes and start them on the path to success.

Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric provides vision therapy and other services to patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Elk Grove, and throughout California .

 

Why Vision Therapy Provides Lasting Correction For Strabismus – Eye-Turn

cat strabismusStrabismus, more commonly referred to as “cross-eye” or “eye turn,” is a condition where the eyes don’t point in the same direction. While many people choose to correct the condition with surgery, the problem often persists, leaving many patients with little to no improvement. A better, more holistic approach is a personalized vision therapy program like the one offered at Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric. If you or a loved one is experiencing even a slight eye-turn, speak with Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes to determine if vision therapy can help you.

What Is Strabismus?

The terms “eye-turn” and “lazy-eye” are often confused, but they are two different conditions. Strabismus refers to an eye-turn, a condition that can be constant or occur only sporadically. The eyes don’t move in unison, so when the brain receives a different image from each eye, it can’t form a unified image. To cope with the conflicting messages, the brain may suppress, or “turn off,” one of the images. As a result, the suppressed eye will not develop the same coordination with the brain as the stronger eye, which can lead to permanent visual loss or even blindness in the weaker eye, and several other serious visual problems.

Strabismus can manifest in different ways and with varying degrees of magnitude. Each case is unique, and your optometrist can provide clarity on your particular condition at your next eye exam.

What Are Common Symptoms of Strabismus?

When the eyes aren’t aligned, certain symptoms can arise. Aside from the eyes being visibly misaligned, someone with strabismus may squint or tilt their head in order to avoid seeing double. An eye-turn also negatively affects depth perception, making driving or playing sports challenging.

Children with strabismus may close or cover one eye when trying to read the board in the classroom, or while focusing on distant objects. They may have poor grades and be reluctant to participate in team sports due to a lack of visual skills. Often, children with visual difficulties are mistakenly diagnosed with a learning or social disorder when their vision is the problem.

Why Is Vision Therapy a Better Treatment Than Surgery?

The primary reason that surgery isn’t the ideal strabismus treatment is that it ignores the source of the problem: the connection between the brain and the affected eye. Surgeons will try and move the point of the muscle’s attachment to the eye in the hope that this will straighten the affected eye. While this method can at times be effective, many patients are left needing a second or even third surgery because the first hasn’t produced the necessary improvement. Additionally, surgery is invasive and poses risks of infection and other surgical complications.

In the event that surgery is the best option, optometrists often recommend a program of vision therapy either before or after the surgery. This program provides the best opportunity for the misaligned eye to develop connectivity to the brain and stay in the correct position.

In contrast to surgery, optometric vision therapy trains the brain and eye to work together to achieve long-lasting results. By developing this eye-brain connectivity, the long term goal is for eyes to work in unison and ultimately achieve 3D vision.

If you or your child have been diagnosed with strabismus, call Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric to schedule an eye exam with Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes and start your journey to healthy vision.

Why Does Vision Therapy Help with Strabismus from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric provides vision therapy and other services to patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Elk Grove, and throughout California .

 

Is Your Child Struggling With Reading?
We Can Help!

For your child to succeed in school, reading and writing skills are necessary. Proper vision development and visual processing skills are critical. It is aFather (wearing eyeglasses) and Daughter, reading a book well-established fact that poor vision can affect learning in a number of ways. Vision issues will make it hard for your child to focus on school work; poor vision can mean poor hand-eye coordination; reading comprehension and vision go hand in hand; and poor vision can affect your child’s confidence.

Is your child struggling with reading? If so, it can be due to a vision problem. It’s important for you to address this to help your child and set him/her on the path to succeed at school and in life.

What Does The Screening Result Say?

It is believed that at least 1 in every 10 school children has vision problems that can undermine their academic performance. In most schools, the solution to assess vision is to provide vision screenings. However, these screenings often miss critical visual skills that cause parents and teachers to overlook the underlying cause of the problem.

The traditional “20/20” vision screening administered to children at school and pediatrician’s offices only assesses how well your child sees at a distance. More than 50% of the serious vision problems that affect children are not diagnosed by a standard vision screening. Even if your child has 20/20 vision, he/she may still have difficulty reading due to other visual issues that are not detected through a vision screening.

Reading Requires Several Visual Skills

Reading is a complex task that requires 7 of the 17 vital visual skills. Here is a highlight of what we do when we are reading:

  • When we aim two eyes at the same point simultaneously and accurately, we use: Skill #1 Eye Movement Control, Skill #8 Simultaneous Alignment at Near and Skill #9 Sustaining Alignment at Near.
  • When we focus both eyes to make the reading material clear, we use: Skill #4 Simultaneous Focus at Near and Skill #10 Central Vision (Visual Acuity).
  • When we continue to sustain clear focus, we use: Skill #5 Sustaining Focus at Near.
  • When we move two eyes continually as a coordinated team across the line of print, we use: Skill #1 Eye Movement Control, Skill #9 Sustaining Alignment at Near and Skill #15 Fine Visual-Motor.

As you can see, even if a vision screening shows that your child has 20/20 vision, there are so many other reasons he or she may have difficulty reading. Any problem that interferes with any of the vision skills mentioned above can make it difficult for your child to read.

Have Your Child's Vision Evaluated, Today!

Vision-related learning problems can cause your child tremendous difficulty at school. This will in turn affect the child’s ability to develop important Little girl having eye examfoundational skills. The earlier a visual processing issue is detected, the easier it is to treat and the sooner your child will have the skills needed to continue on a path of success.

Schedule a developmental eye exam for your child today at EYEcenter Optometric. Our developmental eye exam remains the most viable way to detect any problem that can affect reading and ensure that your child’s vision will enable him or her to succeed.

Our qualified and experienced optometrists are available to speak with you and discuss your options. We use state-of-the-art equipment and assessments to examine your child’s vision and eyes and if an issue is detected, we will recommend the best possible treatment available. We serve patients all over Sacramento.

Don’t delay in getting your child the help they need! Schedule your developmental eye exam today!

 

Is My Toddler Too Young For A VT Evaluation?

little girl with blue eyes, cuddling with rabbitA child’s vision changes rapidly as their bodies grow and develop. This is especially evident during the school years when reading, writing, homework, and after-school activities become a part of their normal daily routine.

It’s essential for both parents and teachers to pay close attention to children’s’ vision needs. Certain vision problems can interfere with a child’s learning in school. Refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism are the most common examples of this.

Myopia causes difficulty focusing on objects at a distance, while objects or images that are up close remain normal. Hyperopia is the opposite when close objects appear blurry and things at a distance are clear. Astigmatism is a condition caused by an irregularly-shaped cornea, which results in blurry or distorted vision

When a child’s vision difficulties negatively impact their learning or social interactions, it may be time to try vision therapy.

What Is Vision Therapy?

Pre-school child with blue eyesVision therapy is a personalized plan of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions. Each patient has unique needs and different degrees of visual health, which is why Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes and the team at Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric create a customized vision therapy program to get the best results for your child.

Vision therapy is compared to physical therapy, only for the eyes instead of the entire body. The techniques and exercises can teach the eyes to improve specific areas of vision, such as focus, eye teaming, hand-eye coordination, and visual tracking, among other skills. The doctor may include prisms or special eyeglasses to boost the therapy program.

Is Vision Therapy For All Children?

Kids can develop problems with visual perception and clarity that aren’t always detected with a standard vision exam or school screening. In fact, even a child with 20/20 vision can have trouble with visual tasks.

Vision therapy is often done for toddlers and kids between the ages of 3-5, during their early preschool years. Some doctors prefer to wait until the child is around 6-7 years old and in elementary school. Of course, every child is different, and the best way to know if they’re ready for vision therapy is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes.

Vision problems such as difficulty tracking, eye coordination, lazy eye, or cross eyes can be diagnosed even in babies.

Fun Home-Based Activities to Strengthen Your Child’s Vision

crayons coloringAlthough 20/20 clarity is important, it’s not enough. You see, the visual system is made up of the eyes and the brain — and it’s how these two parts work together that makes all the difference. When your eyes and brain don’t communicate with each other properly, you may experience decreased reading comprehension, disorientation, lack of focus, and decreased cognitive abilities.

Strong visual skills are essential for learning and performing well in school and in sports. These include:

  • Fixation: The ability to fixate or hold your gaze on a target for an extended period.
  • Pursuit: The ability to follow a moving target as you would follow a tennis ball.
  • Saccade: The ability to rapidly shift focus between targets, such as moving from word to word while reading.
  • Accommodation: The ability to shift focus between distant to near objects (and vice versa), such as looking at the board and then writing notes in your notebook.
  • Binocularity: Using both eyes simultaneously.

If any of the above vision skills are deficient, your child may have difficulty paying attention, experience fatigue, exhibit behavioral problems, rub their eyes while reading, or use their finger to follow each word in a text. Furthermore, your child may appear to be performing well below their potential, and their writing may be messy despite having good fine motor skills. If your child has been diagnosed with reduced visual skills, why not continue to develop these skills at home? There are several activities that parents and caretakers can do during this time to help kids improve their vision.

At-Home Vision Exercises

Below are some ways you can help kids develop healthy vision from the comfort of their home.

Reading, Mazes, Puzzles and Writing — tracking

Visual tracking is made up of two skills: moving your eyes between targets (also called “saccades”), and following moving targets (called “pursuits”). We all make use of these basic skills every time we read, write, draw, drive, or do sports. Problems with tracking are manifested when we frequently lose our place while reading, or skim over words without processing them. Increasing the amount of time your child assembles puzzles, draws, and reads will improve their visual tracking.

Focusing on Static Targets — focus and depth perception

Focusing problems refer to the inability to sustain focus on a single point, or to easily switch between two targets (near and far, for example). One exercise is to hold a crayon or pen in front of your child and have them focus on it. Slowly move the pen closer to their eyes, and then away again. This develops focus and depth perception.

Alphabet Ball — fixation, binocularity, pursuits

With a permanent marker, draw letters, animals or colors on a ball or balloon. As you roll or toss the ball/balloon, ask your child to call out the last thing they noticed before catching it.

Near-Far Tasks — accommodation

Children are often required to alternate between near and far objects, such as when looking at their notebook and then at the blackboard, and back again. Have your child sit at a table and draw the shapes you have sketched on a piece of paper and hung on a nearby wall. The motion of looking from a near point to far point will help improve accommodation skills.

Pencil Movement — fixation

Ask your child to find a colored crayon they plan to use for drawing. But before they begin drawing, slowly move it in figure 8’s — horizontal, vertical, and circular motions in front of them — while having them follow it with their eyes. Doing this 5 minutes a day is an excellent way to improve fixation.

From all of us at Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric, we wish you and your family a safe and healthy few months ahead.

Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Elk Grove, and throughout California .

Treating Your Non-Reader With Vision Therapy

toddler reading book 1257105 (1)The following scenario may sound familiar. It’s a school night and your child has a reading assignment which he or she refuses to complete. You plead with your child, offering to read it together or incentivizing with a reward. No matter what you do, your child just wants to watch TV or play yet another video game.

Perhaps you’ve already consulted with your child’s teacher, school counselor, and pediatrician about the reading difficulties, just to be told that all seems normal — yet you remain concerned. At Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric, we understand the challenges for parents and children that accompany reading difficulties, and we’re here to help.

A functional visual evaluation with Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes will determine whether the child’s visual system may actually be at the root of your child’s reading and learning struggles. If a visual problem is hindering your child from reaching their potential, the vision therapy program offered at Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric can help turn your child into a proficient reader.



Visual Skills Necessary For Reading

There are many visual skills that contribute to academic success. One of the least important skills is termed visual acuity (clarity, sharpness), also known as 20/20 vision, this only assesses how well a child sees at twenty feet away and is part of basic vision screenings in schools and most regular eye exams. However, how well a child sees at a distance of twenty feet has little to do with how well their visual system performs at the reading and learning distance — approximately 11 to 16 inches from the face.

More relevant visual skills required for reading include eye-tracking, eye-teaming, convergence, accommodation, and visual fixation. These skills are assessed during a functional visual evaluation. In simpler terms — both eyes need to work together, move at the same pace, and provide a single and clear image for the brain to interpret. Imagine trying to read when the words are blurry or even doubled? Vision therapy is a customized program to improve these visual skills by training the brain to improve these visual skills —thereby significantly improving the child’s reading, learning, and performance at school.

Early Signs of a Struggling Reader

Although detecting a child’s visual problem can be difficult — either because he or she may not complain about their vision or simply lack the communication skills needed to describe their struggles — several signs may indicate an underlying vision problem. If your child exhibits any of the following behaviors, it may be time to get a functional vision evaluation with Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes.

  • Reading below grade level
  • Low attention span or excessive fidgeting
  • Behavioral issues caused by frustration
  • Resistance to attend school or do homework
  • Shying away from reading out loud or avoiding reading altogether
  • Struggling to summarize or remember what was just read
  • Teachers may notice the child takes frequent bathroom breaks during activities involving reading
  • Covering one eye, head-tilting, or frequently blinking when looking at far-away objects, such as a blackboard
  • Headaches after reading

How Does Vision Therapy Work?

Vision therapy focuses on improving the child’s visual skills. These visual skills, just like walking and talking, are learned skills that can be trained and improved. The brain’s neuroplasticity allows for new learning pathways to be created, making it possible for a child to gain visual skills that weren’t present beforehand. Because around 75% to 90% of a child’s learning occurs through the visual system, any issues with the various visual skills could hinder a child from achieving their potential. On the flipside, enhancing visual abilities can make learning and reading easier and more accessible.

If a vision-related reading issue is the underlying cause of your child’s reading and learning struggles, the vision therapy program at Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric will target and treat your child’s particular issues in a customized program.

Each vision therapy session takes place in-office on a weekly basis under the supervision of Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes. In between sessions, your child will also be expected to perform at-home visual exercises. The length of treatment will depend on the type and degree of the vision-related reading issues. The vision therapist will use various aids and tools, such as prisms, filters, eye patches, balance beams, and digital simulations in the therapeutic process.

Give your child the tools for proficient reading and academic success with vision therapy. If you suspect that a vision problem may be preventing your child from succeeding, contact Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric today to schedule a functional vision evaluation.

Dr. Randy Fuerst & Dr. Hannah Mikes provides vision therapy and other services to patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Elk Grove, and throughout California .



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