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Can Do-it-Yourself Eye Exercises Improve Your Visual Skills?

Everyone knows the importance that exercise plays in maintaining good health, and our eyes are no exception.

Simple home eye exercises may slightly relax your tired eyes and reduce eye strain in the short term, but they don’t address underdeveloped visual skills.

Only a program of vision therapy can improve the visual skills children and adults need in order to excel at school, work and while playing sports. .

If you have trouble focusing on a line of text while you read, have subpar hand-eye-body coordination or poor peripheral vision, you likely need to develop your visual skills.

Vision Therapy Can Help

A vision therapy program trains the eyes and brain to work together more efficiently and quickly. It corrects certain eye alignment and other binocular vision problems.

Vision therapy includes specific eye exercises paired with special lenses, prisms or eye patches to help improve poor visual skills and binocular vision problems. The program is designed and supervised by your eye doctor.

To improve your visual skills, schedule an eye evaluation with EYEcenter Optometric in Citrus Heights, Gold River, Rocklin, Folsom, Sacramento, and learn more about how vision therapy can help.

At EYEcenter Optometric, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 916-727-6518 or book an appointment online to see one of our Citrus Heights eye doctors.

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Should My Child See An Occupational Therapist Or A Vision Therapist?

vision therapy 640Parents of a child struggling to keep up at school will do almost anything to get their child the help they need. But parents don’t always know what kind of help the child needs, and from whom.

School administrators often recommend that parents bring their children to an occupational therapist (OT) to help cope with behavioral or learning problems, not realizing that the problems may stem from underdeveloped visual skills, which can be improved with a program of vision therapy (VT).

Below, we’ll explain how OT and VT differ, and offer some guidance for parents and educators. For more information or to schedule an appointment for your child, contact Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric today.

What’s the Difference Between OT and VT?

The truth is that OT and VT have a notable amount of overlap, but there are a few key differences.

Occupational therapists help people of all ages to gain/regain the ability to perform various daily tasks through the use of sensory-motor exercises and interventions. OT aims to improve gross and fine motor coordination, balance, tactile awareness, bilateral awareness, and hand-eye coordination.

Vision therapists help children and adults with poor visual skills to improve the functioning of the visual system and strengthen the eye-brain connection. Doing so can alleviate many symptoms like headaches, eye strain, dizziness, and even anxiety.

Examples of visual skills are eye teaming, tracking, focusing, depth perception, visual processing, and visual-motor skills.

How does a visual deficit look in a real world situation?

A child (even with 20/20 eyesight) may need to read a sentence several times in order to understand its meaning, or tilt their head to read the whiteboard, or may try to avoid doing any visually demanding activities. Poor performance in school and on the playing field can often be attributed to visual skill deficits.

Which Therapy Is Right For Your Child?

If a child’s visual system is the underlying cause of behavioral or learning problems, then a personalized vision therapy program may be all they need to get back on track.

So, when should you consider vision therapy for your child? The answer is simple.

If your child is struggling in school or while playing sports, have them evaluated by a vision therapist first. If they have any trouble performing visually demanding tasks like homework, reading, spelling, sports, or complain of headaches — bring them to a vision therapist for an evaluation.

The bottom line is this: no other practitioner can offer the same quality and expertise as a doctor of optometry when it comes to healing the visual system.

OT’s sometimes perform visual exercises with children, but only an eye doctor experienced in vision therapy can prescribe therapeutic lenses, prisms, and filters that greatly enhance the healing process.

It’s also important to note that not every optometrist is trained in vision therapy. You’ll want to choose an eye doctor with experience in diagnosing and treating people of all ages with all types of visual dysfunction.

Additionally, even if your child passes the school’s vision screening, they may still have a problem with visual processing and other skills. School vision screenings only test for visual acuity (eyesight) and neglect the other very important visual skills that enable a child to succeed.

Since the visual system is highly integrated with other systems, an interdisciplinary approach is often the most effective. OT and VT don’t always have to be undertaken simultaneously, but some children benefit from this type of holistic approach.

If your child is struggling with learning or behavioral problems, their vision could be an underlying cause or contributing factor. To schedule your child’s functional visual evaluation, contact Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric today.

Frequently Asked Questions with Our Vision Therapist

Q: My child is struggling in school. Should I have his/her eyes examined?

  • A: A comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist can often determine if there are visual issues interfering with a child’s ability to perform in school. Many visual symptoms, some obvious, others less so, can contribute to a child’s poor academic achievement. Some of these issues can be alleviated with a good pair of eyeglasses while others may require vision therapy. All the doctors at Eye Vision Associates are trained in the diagnosis of vision related learning problems.

Q: What are some of the learning difficulties a child may encounter if they have vision issues?

  • A: Children may have difficulty reading if their near vision is blurry or the words jump around the page. Older children may have difficulty copying from the board at the front of the class or may struggle with math homework that has multiple questions on the page.

We encourage you to contact Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric today for a vision therapy evaluation to assess if their vision is what has held them back in their studies.

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


 

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A Letter to Parents: What to Expect at your Child’s Eye Exam

If you’ve never had your child’s eyes examined or it’s been a while, EYEcenter’s own Dr. Meagan Herring wrote a letter to let you know what you can expect at your child’s next (or first) eye exam…

Dear Parent,

I know you are curious about your child’s first eye exam. Here is what will take place:

I will introduce myself as Dr. Herring, then welcome you and your child into my exam room. I’ll ask if you have any concerns regarding their eyes or vision that you’d like addressed today and we’ll chat about it for a few minutes.

I will ask about their eye and overall health history, including any medications, allergies. family medical and eye histories, so bring any old pairs of glasses they’ve worn in the past.

Then, we will discuss their developmental and educational milestones, as well as any daily habits including digital device use and amount of time spent doing near work.

I will also ask you whether they get enough water, sleep and outdoor play time, in addition to their nutritional patterns. It is my job as a primary care provider to inquire and discuss these aspects of your child’s health as they can each affect their visual system and overall eye health.

I will then begin with my assessment of their visual system by checking both near and far acuities and perform a few preliminary tests. These “games” include assessment of their eye movements, tracking patterns and natural postures, ability to focus, peripheral vision, pupillary assessment, color vision and depth perception.

I may then perform what’s called an ‘objective refraction’ behind the phoropter depending on their age. You know the piece of equipment I’m referring to – the bulky, outer space-like contraption? The phoropter will be placed in front of your child’s face to determine whether a refractive error exists.

I will do this by shining a light from a black, rod-like instrument called a retinoscope in their eyes while turning dials on the phoropter, all the while encouraging your child to sit still and stare at a large letter on a screen across the room.

Your child can sit still, right?

That’s when the fun begins. Depending on how active your child is, my time is limited or I will lose their attention and focus. I also get to decode what your child’s responses mean as I present lens options to them, while encouraging them further down the eye chart to the 20/20 line, (which, by the way, refers to what an average person sees at 20 feet as being the same size object that your child can see at 20 feet.)

By then, I will have a pretty good idea of whether or not your child may need glasses.

Up next, I will assess their binocular vision status, (how well their eyes work together), through the phoropter. Did you know that some children’s difficulties in school can be attributed to poor vision or eye teaming skills?

I will then move on to the health evaluation part of the exam and look at their eyes under a giant microscope called a slit lamp. I can tell identify any ocular allergies, blepharitis or dry eyes. I may need your help holding their head firmly in place and can even show you their eyes through the slit lamp if you are interested.

Dilation of their pupils comes next, and I will do this by gently instilling drops into their eyes. Don’t worry, I have a few tricks up my sleeve, including ‘magic drops’ and the ‘closed eye’ method. They don’t hurt but will make their eyes feel numb for a few minutes and blurry for a few hours after the exam.

Oh, and please don’t ask if this is necessary because they have soccer practice right after the exam or you will probably have to bring them back to finish their exam. Although I am a fan of the retinal photos you had taken at the beginning of the exam, they do not substitute the dilation, in your child’s case. This is because I perform a stronger dilation (aka cycloplegic dilation) necessary for me to fully assess their visual system and finalize their prescription.

You may choose to wait in the waiting area, or try on frames while your child’s eyes dilate. I will call him or her back in 15-20 minutes.

After your child’s eyes are blurry and the pupils are the size of dimes, it’s time for part 2 of the exam, where I will repeat the “better 1, or 2?” test.

I will then have the data I need to recommend or not to recommend glasses, patching or vision therapy.

Onto the final health assessment, where I will take one last look through the giant microscope at the back of their eyes with a small lens. I am not expecting to find anything, but am trained to look for congenital abnormalities, retinal holes or tears and cancerous tumors. I finalize this part with a larger lens and a science-y looking contraption on my head. Very fancy.

And that will conclude your child’s total eye check. I will go over any treatment recommendations and we will discuss any questions you have before making their personalized eye care plan.

Of course, we save the best for last as your child will receive a pair of ever-fashionable, disposable dark-out shades as you leave. And maybe a sticker 😉

Thank you for entrusting me in the care of your child’s eye health.

Sincerely,

Dr. Meagan

Reproduced with permission originally published in https://www.mindfuloptometrist.com/post/a-letter-to-parents-what-to-expect-at-your-child-s-eye-exam

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Herring

Q: Can you request lenses made from glass? Is glass still used for lenses?

  • A: Yes. Opticians still sometimes use glass for lenses. However, glass is not used very often because they aren’t as safe. If these glass lenses breaks, they can shatters into many pieces and can injure the eye. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, so they can make your eyeglasses less comfortable to wear.

Q: Can a coating be added to eyeglasses to protect them from further scratches?

  • A: A protective coating can’t be added to a lens after it’s scratched. The coating is applied when the lens is manufactured and can’t be put on later.

Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Sacramento, California. Visit EYEcenter optometric for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

How Vision Therapy Impacts Confidence & Success

Mom Daughter Child Eye HealthBuilding confidence in children is critical to their success. However, children with poorly developed visual skills tend to lack confidence in their abilities. They may struggle to keep up in school, finding it difficult to concentrate in the classroom, or be unable to catch a ball when playing on the sports field.

Fortunately, vision therapy can help children (and adults) develop the specific visual skills they lack, offering them the best opportunities to enhance their comprehension, increase their reading level and attention span, and improve their sports performance.

This, in turn, directly impacts their confidence levels.

How Does Vision Therapy Work?

The primary goal of vision therapy is to improve the child’s visual skills. A child can have 20/20 vision and yet have underdeveloped visual skills. Poor visual skills impede the ability of the eyes, brain, and body to work as a team. Vision therapy develops and enhances this communication, allowing people with visual dysfunction to process and react to visual information faster and more efficiently.

Vision Therapy Process

A vision therapy program consists of visual exercises specifically tailored to the patient’s individual visual needs. Depending on the type and level of visual dysfunction, the eye doctor will prescribe a personalized program of exercises to develop the communication between the brain and the visual system. Eye doctors also use tools such as specialized optical lenses, eye patches, prisms, balance boards, and digital simulations to train the brain-eye connection.

Visual Skills

There are several visual skills that vision therapy helps to improve. These include:

  • Saccades – the eyes’ ability to move quickly or “jump” between two or more focus points. This skill is crucial for reading, as children need to be able to move their eyes along a straight line without straying to other lines.
  • Pursuits or Tracking – the eyes’ ability to smoothly track a moving target. This skill allows a child’s eyes to glide along with a page and also to catch, hit, or kick a moving ball.
  • Convergence – the eyes’ ability to work together as a team in order to focus on a nearby object like a book or computer screen..
  • Accommodation Flexibility – the eyes’ ability to continuously change focus between near and distant objects. This is the skill required when a child looks at the blackboard and then copies the writing into a notebook.
  • Accommodation – The eyes’ ability to maintain focus on close-up activities. This skill is needed for homework and for using a computer for many hours.
  • Visual Memory – The ability to remember words and information. Good visual memory is essential for spelling.
  • Color Perception – The ability to distinguish between various colors. This skill is essential for the accurate interpretation of color-coded materials, such as graphs and charts.
  • Fine Visual-Motor – The ability to engage in close-up activities with accuracy and comfort. This skill is needed for reading, writing, cutting with scissors, and assembling a puzzle.
  • Visual Integration – The ability to combine your vision with your other senses to perform complex tasks. This skill is required to process various forms of visual information accurately and quickly. Visual integration is crucial for a student copying from the board and analyzing the information.

Confidence And Success Building

Developing visual skills can help children meet the demands of school, improve their grades, and allow them to gain confidence in the classroom. Vision therapy can also lead to improved hand-eye coordination and allow them to have more fun on the sports field. In fact, vision therapy can be a key component in preparing children for higher education. As they master new skills, they feel more confident in their abilities.

Keep in mind that school eye screenings and most regular eye exams evaluate eyesight, but do not assess the essential visual skills required for sports, reading, and learning. Only a comprehensive vision exam can determine whether a child has poor visual skills. Contact Vision Therapy Center at EYEcenter Optometric to book a vision exam to assess your child’s visual skills. We can create a tailor-made vision therapy program to help your child succeed and reach their full potential.

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Why We Use RightEye for Vision Therapy at EYEcenter Optometric

See how RightEye can improve the way you live your life!

Our EYEcenter Optometric team is excited to join forces with RightEye to better evaluate, diagnose, and define visual processing problems in our patients of all ages. RightEye is a breakthrough technology that uses computer-based eye tracking software and equipment to identify muscle imbalances and assess eye movement.

Why is this information important? Because even if you think you see perfectly, you could still suffer from various eye health and visual performance issues that could benefit from vision therapy; your involuntary eye movements can be a strong indicator of these issues.

“Vision is more than 20/20 eyesight,” says Palmer N. Lee, O.D.. “Without vision, our balance, hand-eye coordination, reading comprehension, ability to drive, catch a ball—it’s all compromised. RightEye is an opportunity for patients to transform how they lead their lives and doctors to transform how they run their practices. And all it takes is minutes.”

Within mere minutes, RightEye can give our optometrists a wide, objective, and quantitative view of your overall visual health. Using this cutting-edge diagnostic tool, we will custom-design the most helpful vision therapy sessions possible to treat your vision condition.

Introducing RightEye

Our EYEcenter Optometric eye doctors can’t wait to introduce you to this state-of-the-art device!

“RightEye is computer-based eye-tracking software and equipment,” explains Palmer N. Lee, O.D.. “At EYEcenter Optometric, we use it to detect muscle imbalances and diagnose how the eyes are tracking.”

The RightEye system is an all-inclusive solution for testing visual function by tracking eye movements and relating them to various health issues. It captures pictures of eye movements 30-250 times per second! It is a compact unit, about the size of a laptop, and it can be operated with ease by all members of our optometry team.

RightEye records your eye movements and compares them simultaneously with a large cross-section of society to detect or rule out any problematic eye conditions. It can indicate visual problems related to brain health, reading, or sports performance. The non-invasive test takes only five minutes and provides immediate results.

How RightEye vision tests can be used

Eye tracking tests by RightEye can provide significant information to identify issues with functional vision. For example, it can:

  • Provide baseline concussion tests
  • Monitor eye movements to identify health and vision conditions
  • Improve athletic performance by pinpointing vision strengths and weaknesses
  • Track the effects of vision treatment and recovery
  • Identify the early signs of Parkinson’s disease and autism
  • Detect binocular vision problems that interfere with reading and learning

RightEye = A proven tool for optimizing vision & your life

As the first commercialized eye-tracking solution for your overall well-being, RightEye has demonstrated success when applied for optometry, medicine, and sports. At EYEcenter Optometric, our highly qualified optometrists and vision therapy professionals use RightEye to uncover troublesome issues with functional vision and brain health. Armed with this information, we will design the best customized treatment to transform your vision and radically upgrade how you live your life!


At EYEcenter Optometric, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 916-727-6518 or book an appointment online to see one of our Citrus Heights eye doctors.

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Mental Health and Your Vision

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the USA; in Canada, Mental Health week is May 6th to 12th. Since 1949, it has been observed throughout the United States as a way of drawing attention to the importance of proper mental health. This year’s theme is #4Mind4Body. The idea is that using elements around us, such as the people in our lives, faith, nature, and even pets, can strengthen wellness and overall mental health.

Did you know that your vision can affect your mental health? While things like stress, trauma, and family history are factors that impact mental health, vision can also impact it.

How Does Vision Affect Mental Health?

Certain types of eye diseases and visual impairments can lead to emotional problemslike anxiety and depression. This is particularly common in cases of severe vision loss. Patients with glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy, for example, can experience mild to acute vision loss. This can make everyday activities like driving, running errands, watching TV, using a computer, or cooking, a difficult and painful experience. When this happens, it can cause a loss of independence, potentially leaving the person mentally and emotionally devastated.

Like most surgical procedures, LASIK corrective surgery is permanent and irreversible. Although it has very high success rates, LASIK has been considered the cause of depression and mental health issues in a few instances.

Kids’ Vision and Mental Health

Increased screen time among school-age children and teens has been shown to reduce emotional stability and cause repeated distractions and difficulty completing tasks, while also increasing the likelihood of developing nearsightedness.

Kids with visual problems often experience difficulty in school. If they can’t see the board clearly or constantly struggle with homework due to poor vision, they may act out their frustration or have trouble getting along with their peers.

Coping with Vision Problems

One of the most important ways to cope with visual problems is awareness. Simply paying attention to the signs and symptoms — whether the patient is an adult or a child — is a crucial first step.

Family members, close friends, colleagues, parents, and teachers can all play an important role in detecting emotional suffering in those with visual difficulties. Pay attention to signs of changes in behavior, such as a loss of appetite, persistent exhaustion, or decreased interest in favorite activities.

Thankfully, many common vision problems are treatable. Things like double vision, hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), amblyopia (lazy eye), and post-concussion vision difficulties can be managed. Vision correction devices, therapeutic lenses, visual exercises, or special prism glasses may help provide the visual clarity you need. Your primary eye doctor can help and a vision therapist or low vision expert may make a significant impact on your quality of life.

How You Can Help

There are some things you can do on your own to raise awareness about good mental health:

Speak Up

Often, just talking about mental health struggles can be incredibly empowering. Ask for help from family and friends or find a local support group. Be open and honest about what you’re going through and talk with others who are going through the same thing. Remember: you’re not alone.

If you experience any type of sudden changes to your vision — even if it’s temporary — talk to your eye doctor. A delay in treatment may have more serious consequences, so speak up and don’t wait.

Get Social

Developing healthy personal relationships improves mental health. People with strong social connections are less likely to experience severe depression and may even live longer. Go out with friends, join a club, or consider volunteering.

Have an Animal

Having a pet has been shown to boost mental health and help combat feelings of loneliness. Guide dogs can be especially beneficial for people suffering from vision loss.

Use Visual Aids

If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health issues caused by vision loss, visual aids can help. Devices like magnifiers or telescopic lenses can enlarge text, images, and objects, so you can see them more clearly and in greater detail.

Kids can benefit from vision correction like glasses, contacts, or specialized lenses for more severe cases of refractive errors. Vision therapy may be an option, too. It is a customized program of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions.

Always talk to your eye doctor about any concerns, questions, or struggles.

Thanks to programs like Mental Health Awareness Month, there is less of a stigma around mental health than just a few decades ago. Advancements in medical technologies and scientific research have led to innovative solutions for better vision care.

During this Mental Health Awareness Month, share your share your struggles, stories, and successes with others. Use the hashtag #Mind4Body and give your loved ones hope for a healthy and high quality of life.

 

At EYEcenter Optometric, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 916-727-6518 or book an appointment online to see one of our Citrus Heights eye doctors.

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