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Vision Therapy for Learning and Behaviour

Does your child have reading problems? Vision therapy at our Edmonton optometrist may help

Many children who have vision problems are misdiagnosed as having ADHD or learning disabilities. However, these problems may really be rooted in vision dysfunctions – even if your child passed a vision screening test done in school! That’s because the vision test performed for a student only detects eye problems that involve visual acuity (seeing 20/20). Altogether, those types of visual disorders only account for about 5% of all eye problems!

20/20 vision doesn’t mean there’s no vision problem

Even if your child can see 20/20, it doesn’t mean that both eyes are working together in the right way. Binocular visual skills such as eye tracking, eye coordination, and eye focusing may still not be functioning as needed to see and learn properly. Your child may have convergence insufficiency, meaning that the eyes do not team together for near vision – which is necessary for doing close work; for example, eyes may drift outward when reading or writing.

When convergence insufficiency and other dysfunctions are left untreated, eyestrain, headaches, and a variety of learning problems can result. It’s no wonder why a student with these visual problems typically hates reading!

When our Edmonton eye doctor performs an eye exam for your child, a full assessment of binocular vision will be done. We will check for convergence insufficiency and any focusing problems, as well as a history of serious head injury, which can often be treated effectively with vision therapy.

Not seeing clearly can lead to behaviour issues

When a student cannot see well enough to keep up in the classroom, problems with behavior and grades are the obvious outcome. Feeling bored and confused, this child will act out in disruptive ways that grab attention. This type of behaviour can closely resemble the signs of ADD or ADHD. Yet in reality the child really has a learning-related binocular vision problem, which directly affects their ability to succeed in school. Once the visual dysfunction is treated, typically by vision therapy, the child can frequently overcome the associated learning challenges.

Vision therapy can treat learning-related visual problems

The American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Optometry both endorse the use of vision therapy. If your child hates reading, has been diagnosed with ADHD, and/or is demonstrating symptoms of a behavioural problem, book an eye exam with our Edmonton eye doctor. If we diagnose a vision condition, our vision therapist will custom-design a series of exercises to help strengthen your child’s visual skills. Frequently, the signs of a behavioural disorder will fade as soon as vision therapy starts to work and the student can finally keep up with what’s going on in school!

Visual dysfunctions that affect learning

Many people wonder which specific vision conditions affect learning and can be treated effectively by vision therapy. The following visual dysfunctions can all lead to learning disabilities and behavioural issues, and also often respond well to vision therapy:

  • Binocular dysfunction Also called eye teaming, binocular dysfunction is a problem with eye coordination. It is how we use our eyes to prevent us from seeing double.
  • Eye tracking A dysfunction with eye tracking makes it difficult to follow a moving object or look from place to place. When reading, it can cause kids to skip lines and words.
  • Convergence insufficiency This condition involves having poor binocular skills when using both eyes to see an object that is near.
  • Accommodation dysfunction Also referred to as having focusing problems, accommodation dysfunction makes it hard to shift focus from near to far and back again. Copying from a classroom board can be very challenging.
  • Visual-motor integration dysfunction Eye-hand coordination is compromised with this condition. Handwriting may be illegible!
  • Visual perception dysfunctions Trouble with visual memory and recall of what is seen and discriminating between different sizes and shapes are all signs of a visual perception dysfunction.

Our Edmonton eye doctor can diagnose these visual problems with a comprehensive eye exam. If we detect any learning-related vision disorders, we will refer your child for personalized sessions with our vision therapist at Village Eye Centre. We love helping our young patients to finally enjoy reading and learning by enhancing their vision!

North Edmonton: 587-410-5747| Downtown Edmonton: 587-414-6127 | Sherwood Park: 587-414-6133