Vision for Learning

We want to thank everyone who came out to support us at the Funville Parenting Fair at White Flint Mall last Saturday. We really feel like it was a great success, and had a blast playing bean bag toss with all the kids. It was a good opportunity to educate parents about the importance of healthy vision for success in school.

Most of the parents we spoke with mentioned that their children had undergone a vision screening at school, and that “everything was fine’. What most parents don’t realize is that in the majority of school screenings will NOT catch binocular vision problems, or other visual problems that affect reading and deskwork.I have seen many many children who have passed school or pediatrician vision screenings yet continue to needlessly struggle with undiagnosed vision problems.

It is important for children to have an annual eye and vision examination with a licensed eye doctor who specializes in children’s vision, particularly as it relates to learning. Developmental Optometrists specialize in children’s vision, and evaluate the multiple visual skills one needs for school and work success. To find a Developmental Optometrist near you, go to COVD.org.

Symptoms you should not ignore:

  • Tiring easily while reading
  • Avoiding near tasks such as reading
  • Squinting, closing, or covering one eye
  • Difficulty tracking moving objects (such as a ball)
  • Shortened attention span
  • Making errors copying
  • Crooked or poorly spaced writing
  • Confusing right and left
  • Reversing numbers, letters, or words
  • Print “runs together” or “words jump”
  • Print seems to move, or comes in and out of focus when reading
  • Text seems to double when reading, driving, or looking at signs
  • Unusual posture or head tilt while reading or writing
  • Skipping lines or losing place while reading or copying
  • Rereading or skipping words
  • Difficulty using binoculars
  • Difficulty judging distance
  • Seeing more clearly with one eye with best eyeglass prescription

If you experience any of these difficulties, or would like to learn more, visit us at www.VCDCwashington.com.

Our Winter Mini-Symposium was a Success!

Last night, February 24, 2011, we hosted a mini-symposium at the new and improved Vision & Conceptual Development Center. We had fifteen people in attendance representing a variety of professional backgrounds.
Our first speaker was Joseph Manley, MD, discussing the American Academy of Pediatrics position statement on Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and Vision. Dr. Manley’s premise is that the AAP is ignoring peer-reviewed research and evidence-based medicine in their assertion that vision therapy is not an appropriate treatment for children with learning disabilities and dyslexia. Dr. Manley presented numerous sources who found a higher incidence of vision problems in children with dyslexia and learning disabilities.

I was the second speaker, with a talk titled Vision, Behavior, and Academics, in which I explored the documented binocular vision problems in students with inappropriate classroom behavior, and how that impacts the learning of all students.

Finally, our keynote speaker was Jean Thomas, MD. Dr. Thomas is the President of Child & Family Integrated Therapies, LLC, which is a part of Integrated Therapeutic Services for Families and Children, Inc, in Kensington, MD. Formerly on staff at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, Dr. Thomas is recognized nationally and internationally for her contributions to an interdisciplinary effort to develop age-specific mental health diagnostic criteria for children aged birth through three years old. In her talk last night on Early Disruptive Disorders, Dr. Thomas emphasized the importance of the family interactions and dynamics to develop the best outcome for the troubled child.

All in all, the evening was a success, and we look forward to many future educational events for professionals, parents, and patients. To sign up for our mailing list, please click here.

Are you mad as hell?

There is a lot of opinion on the internet, some good, some bad, and a lot that is completely confounding. I recently came across a post on mothering.com in which the original poster describes her daughter’s success in vision therapy and the significant positive changes that have occurred in her life as a result. Great! We have patients in our office every day who tell of the improvements they see in school, work, hobbies, and many other areas of daily life. I always love hearing more.

But in this case, another mom replied that VT has only been proven effective for strabismus and convergence insufficiency.

Where does this idea come from? There is an abundance of data showing otherwise, that in fact vision therapy is an effective treatment modality for numerous other visual dysfunctions. For an incomplete yet impressive listing, see the COVD website. It is frustrating to me and the rest of the community of developmental optometrists, educators, and others who care for children that the science gets swept aside and replaced with opinion. The opinions are repeated again and again until they seem to be true.

Just last week a mother brought her son in to see me. He had numerous symptoms consistent with a binocular vision problem. Sure enough, testing showed he had convergence insufficiency. The mother was relieved to find out the reason for her son’s symptoms, but worried that her mother and others in the family would ridicule her for seeking treatment in the form of vision therapy. So opinion not based in fact may stand in the way of this boy’s academic, sports, and life success.

Dr. Len Press posted this morning about a patient with double vision from convergence insufficiency whose ophthalmologist told her that vision therapy was bogus. Yet the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial was published in the Archives of Ophthalmology. Not the archives of Optometry. Biases (opinions) get in the way, even when it’s published in ophthalmology’s own literature. And these biases prevent children from getting the care they need, and result in children suffering needlessly. Which is something that should make us all mad as hell.