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Vision Therapy

Can Vision Therapy Help Myopia?

Can Vision Therapy Help Myopia 640You may have heard of vision therapy in the context of helping adults and children with a lazy eye, eye turn, or learning difficulties.

But did you know that in some cases, vision therapy may also be effective in preventing, reducing, or slowing myopia (nearsightedness)?

While it’s true that scientists haven’t yet found a cure for myopia, vision therapy may help by targeting certain contributing factors of myopia.

To assess whether vision therapy is right for your child, call Unger Eye Care in Troy today.

But First, How Does Vision Therapy Work?

To give you a better sense of what vision therapy is, here are some facts. Vision therapy:

  • Is a non-invasive set of visual exercises tailored to your specific needs
  • May involve the use of specialized prisms or filters, computerized aids, balance techniques, and other therapeutic tools
  • Trains the brain and eyes to work as a team
  • Develops visual skills like eye tracking, teaming, accommodation, convergence, visual processing, visual memory, focusing, and depth perception
  • May involve an at-home component, like daily visual exercises
  • Is evidence-based. Published data has shown that it can be an effective program to improve reading, learning, overall school and sports performance

How Does Vision Therapy Relate To Myopia?

While vision therapy may not be able to fully reverse or treat myopia, some nearsighted people appear to benefit from it.

Some vision therapists have reported patients’ myopia improvement during or after the vision therapy process. This may be due to a strengthened visual skill called accommodation—the eyes’ ability to maintain clear focus on objects. Poor focusing skills have been linked to myopia. In fact, research shows that having an accommodation lag (when the eyes can’t pull the focus inwards enough to clearly see a very close object) could be a risk factor for myopia development and progression. That said, it’s worth noting that research findings are still mixed on this matter.

Accommodative spasm, also known as “pseudo-myopia,” occurs when the eyes lock their focus on a near object and then have difficulty releasing the focus to view distant objects. The reason this is considered a false myopia is because it has to do with the focusing mechanism of the lens rather than the elongation of the eye, the main characteristic of myopia.

Pseudo-myopia can be treated with vision therapy, assuming the accommodation spasm is the only culprit for blurred distance vision. In this case, the patient may no longer need to wear prescription lenses for vision correction following a successful vision therapy program,

So what’s the bottom line?

In some cases, vision therapy may be able to improve a person’s blurry vision—but research on the subject is ongoing.

If you or your child has myopia and you’re curious as to whether vision therapy can help, schedule a functional visual assessment for your child.

To schedule your appointment with Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger, call Unger Eye Care today.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Alice Unger

 

Q: #1: Who can benefit from vision therapy?

  • A: Children and adults with visual dysfunction can benefit from a personalized program of vision therapy. Visual dysfunction can manifest in many ways, including—but not limited to—behavioral and learning problems, coordination difficulties, headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and attention deficits.

Q: #2: Do all optometrists offer vision therapy?

  • A: No. You should only seek vision therapy from a qualified optometrist experienced in offering vision therapy for a variety of visual disorders. Other types of therapists sometimes claim to offer vision therapy, but only an eye doctor can prescribe the necessary visual treatments for optimal results.
  • Unger Eye Care serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

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Common Visual Symptoms to Watch for in Children

kid playing outside 640People often believe that if a child has 20/20 vision, they have perfect eyesight. This isn’t always the case. Having 20/20 eyesight refers to the ability to see clearly from 20 feet away. This doesn’t guarantee that a child has the visual skills needed to read properly, pay attention in class, writing, and other tasks required for academic success.

It may surprise you that many students who show signs of a learning difficulty actually have a vision problem. According to the National PTA, approximately 10 million school-age children suffer from vision problems that make it more difficult for them to learn in a classroom setting.

If your child is struggling in school, Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger can determine whether the problem is related to their vision and provide a vision therapy program to help them succeed.

Vision Screenings vs Comprehensive Eye Exam

While school vision screenings might detect significant lazy eye or myopia, they miss many other vision problems, such as issues with focusing, depth perception, or eye tracking.

A comprehensive eye exam, on the other hand, checks for farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, eye focusing abilities, eye tracking, eye focusing, visual skills, binocular eye coordination, and visual processing.

What Signs Should Parents and Teachers Look For?

Below is a list of signs and symptoms indicating that a child may be experiencing vision difficulties:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Complains of frequent headaches
  • Difficulty with comprehension
  • Complains of double or blurry vision
  • Makes errors when copying from the board
  • Reads below grade level
  • Holds reading material close to the face
  • Reverses words or letters while reading or writing
  • Loses place or skips words when reading
  • Confuses or omits small words while reading
  • Rubs eyes
  • Slow to finish written assignments
  • Frequently squints
  • Tilts head or covers one eye
  • Spelling difficulties
  • Uses finger pointing when reading

How Does Vision Therapy Help?

Vision therapy is a personalized treatment program designed to strengthen and improve your child’s visual skills.

Each vision therapy program is customized to your child’s needs and may include specialized lenses, filters, or prisms, alongside personalized eye exercises to help retrain the brain-eye connection and improve your child’s school performance.

If you think a vision problem may be affecting your child’s academic performance, vision therapy may provide them with the necessary visual skills to succeed in school.

Frequently Asked Questions with Our Vision Therapist in Troy, Illinois

Q: How do vision problems impact learning?

  • A: A child’s vision problem can impact all aspects of learning. Often, children with vision problems are told they have a learning difficulty, when in fact, their brain isn’t properly processing what their eyes see. Vision problems can affect a child’s reading skills and comprehension, handwriting, spelling, classroom performance, concentration and attention, and visual skills.

Q: Does my child have a vision problem?

  • A: Discovering a vision problem in children can be difficult, as they may lack the verbal skills to describe what they’re experiencing or may not realize that they have a vision problem.Common indicators that your child may have a vision problem include:
    – Covering one eye
    – Behavioral problems
    – Reading avoidance
    – Difficulties with reading comprehension
    – Frequent blinking
    – Excessive fidgeting
    – Limited attention span
    – Reading below school grade level
    – Tilting head to one side



If your child displays any of these signs, make sure you set up a visit to an eye doctor at Unger Eye Care to evaluate their visual skills and find out whether your child could benefit from vision therapy.

Unger Eye Care serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, all throughout Illinois.

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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 Unger Eye Care 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 Unger Eye Care 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 Unger Eye Care today for a vision therapy evaluation to assess if their vision is what has held them back in their studies.

Unger Eye Care serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, and Glen Carbon, all throughout Illinois.


 

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Struggling with Reading & Overall Learning Problems

learning at home 640×350During COVID-19, parents are challenged with the task of supporting their children’s studies as they contend with online classrooms and homework. We can certainly acknowledge our teachers have done a phenomenal job at adapting their classroom setting to a virtual one, but a struggling reader or learning problem is hard for a teacher in a remote setting to solve. So, the burden is placed on the parent’s shoulders to bear.

Fortunately, there are multiple avenues to take to help your child feel empowered and gain a better foothold with their online learning. By now, most parents have equipped their child with a fast internet connection, new computer, and quiet learning environment. What else is there left to do?

Encouragement & Support

As much as we’re all under a lot of stress, your child depends on your never-ending support & love. You don’t need to turn to gifts or money to make a child feel appreciated. A personal touch like their favorite snack, quality time, and compliments can go far with anyone.

Digital Eye Strain

Eye fatigue from excessive smartphone/computer usage isn’t unique to children — it affects everyone. Not only do our eyes need a rest from the computer, but digital devices reduce our blinking rate, which also results in dry eye symptoms. Take frequent breaks & stretch your eye muscles by looking out a window once in a while.

Did your child ever have a functional vision evaluation?

While a child who is really struggling at learning can require the help of an educational therapist or tutor, a key step to identifying what’s holding your child back in their studies is addressing their vision — 80 of learning is visual!

We often find children who have struggled in the classroom as “C” students because their vision was never evaluated by an optometrist who specializes in vision therapy.

If your child has an underlying vision problem, no amount of tutoring or work with other specialists will address or treat the problem effectively or at all.

We encourage you to contact Unger Eye Care today for a vision therapy evaluation to assess if their vision is what has held them back from their studies.

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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 Unger Eye Care 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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4 Ways To Help Your Students With Vision-Related Learning Difficulties

sad child 640An estimated 1.25 million children in North America are affected by some form of visual impairment that impacts their daily living. Ranging from nearsightedness to lazy eye to cross-eye, these visual problems can have a drastic impact on their performance in the classroom, which may lead them to lag behind their peers.

Fortunately, there are certain steps that educators can take to help their students with visual problems succeed. First, let’s explain the link between vision and learning.

Why are Visual Skills Necessary For Learning?

Because up to 80% of classroom learning is vision-based, it is no wonder that children with subpar visual skills may lag behind their peers academically.

We’re not referring to visual acuity, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness), but rather the visual skills that rely on brain-eye communication. Problems with these skills can only be detected during a functional visual exam.These vision skills include eye teaming, tracking, accommodation, and focusing, all of which are critical for proficient reading, writing, and reading comprehension.

Teachers of school-aged children with poor visual skills can implement certain strategies to accommodate and even improve students’ academic performance. Below we’ve listed a few suggestions.

How Educators Can Help Students With Vision-Related Learning Challenges

1. Consider Where Your Students Should Be Seated

Make sure your students are seated facing the whiteboard. They should not have to look over their shoulder or turn around to see what the teacher is writing on the board. Some classrooms have students seated at round tables, forcing some children to turn around to see the front of the classroom. While this type of seating arrangement has its benefits, it is not appropriate for children with visual impairments, as they may find it difficult to quickly shift their gaze.

2. Pay Attention to Their Visual Needs

Try to meet the students’ visual needs. For example, if a child is expected to wear glasses for certain tasks, make sure that the child follows through. If the child doesn’t comply, consider speaking with the child’s parents.

3. Optimize Classroom Lighting

If you know that a certain student has a visual problem, seat them so that they aren’t in direct sunlight or under a shadow. Natural lighting is preferred, but when this isn’t possible, tungsten light bulbs are generally favored by the eye over fluorescent lighting. Please note that any flickering light bulb should be changed without delay.

4. Choose a Teaching Method That Accommodates Their Vision

Below are steps you can take to help students with poor visual skills:

  • Use black or dark-colored markers on the whiteboard. Avoid bright colored markers like orange, red, and yellow.
  • While writing on the board, say the words/numbers aloud to assist those who may have difficulty reading or seeing the text.
  • Avoid using language that relies heavily on vision, such as “like this one” or “over there.”
  • Be patient when a student with subpar visual skills stares off into space or daydreams. This is often a symptom of visual dysfunction, rather than a lack of attention.

How We Can Help

At Unger Eye Care, our goal is to help each child reach their full potential by strengthening any visual skill deficiencies.

We treat children with many types of visual dysfunctions, often using a specialized form of therapy called vision therapy. Vision therapy trains the eyes to focus better or work as a team (among many other visual skills) by strengthening the eye-brain connection.

To learn more or to ask any questions, contact Unger Eye Care today.

Unger Eye Care serves patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

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Choose Holiday Gifts That Support Your Child’s Vision

child looking at toys 640Gift giving season is fast approaching. If you plan on purchasing a gift for a child, you may want to consider choosing one that supports healthy visual functioning.

Here’s our list of children’s gifts that benefit their visual health in a fun and enjoyable way.

Building Toys

Building toys help children develop hand-eye coordination and visualization skills. They also help enhance visual-spatial skills — an essential component of reading readiness. Understanding how to create a structure refines children’s spatial-organization skills.

Playing with building toys perfects skills like problem-solving, patience, and focus.

Some popular building toys are Legos, Duplos, Mega-Bloks, Clics, and Magnatiles. Many building toys are appropriate for children aged 1-9, but follow the age recommendation and warning labels listed on the packaging.

Visual Thinking Games and Toys

Jigsaw puzzles, memory games, dominoes, checkers, Rush Hour, and Bingo all help children to build visual thinking and processing skills. Visual thinking, also known as visual/spatial learning or picture thinking, is the ability to think and analyze what you have seen. This skill is needed for math and reading comprehension.

Visual thinking games are a great way to cultivate abilities like visual memory, form perception, eye tracking, sequencing, and pattern recognition.

Space Perception Toys

What better way to develop a child’s hand-eye coordination than with a lively game of catch or ping pong? Space perception toys also promote a child’s awareness of the space around them, as well as three-dimensional depth perception, eye tracking, and accommodation flexibility (the eyes’ ability to continuously change their focus between near and distant objects).

Other examples of space perception toys include marbles, pick-up-sticks, Jenga, and any game or sport that involves a ball.

Let’s Support Your Child’s Vision Together

A child’s vision enables them to succeed academically, building self esteem. When a child has a problem with one or several visual skills, it can cause them to struggle in school or develop attention and behavioral issues.

That’s why it’s important to provide children with toys, games, and opportunities that support and refine their visual skills.

If you suspect that your child may be struggling with their vision, bring them to Unger Eye Care for a functional visual evaluation, where will test their visual skills and processing abilities.

Even a child with 20/20 vision can have visual dysfunction that will likely go undetected in standard eye exams or school screenings.

If a problem with their visual functioning is found, we may recommend a personalized program of vision therapy. Vision therapy is an evidence-based treatment method that has been proven effective for a wide variety of visual dysfunctions. This form of therapy can be thought of as a “gym” for the brain, as it helps to retrain the eye-brain connection and speed up a child’s visual information superhighway.


For more information or to schedule a functional visual evaluation, call Unger Eye Care today.

Unger Eye Care serves patients in Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

 

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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 Unger Eye Care, we understand the challenges for parents and children that accompany reading difficulties, and we’re here to help.

A functional visual evaluation with Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger 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 Unger Eye Care can help turn your child into a proficient reader.

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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. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger.

  • 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 Unger Eye Care 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. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger. 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 Unger Eye Care today to schedule a functional vision evaluation.

Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger provides vision therapy and other services to patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

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Building Your Child’s Confidence Through Vision Therapy

girl in blue t shirt reading book 3755619We all know that success tends to be accompanied by confidence. However, because children with visual dysfunctions struggle to perform daily tasks, whether academic or otherwise, their confidence is adversely affected. For example, a 7-year-old child struggling to read will likely refuse to read aloud in the classroom in order to hide his or her challenge. This problem may result in poor grades and the inability to keep up with the class. Over time, this could cause the child to become frustrated and have a negative self-image, leading the child to see him or herself as a “failure”.

It’s quite common for reading struggles and other school-related endeavors to be attributed to a learning disability, when in fact, the child may have undetected poor visual skills. Basic vision screenings do not assess visual skills and won’t catch functional vision problems, such as poor eye teaming, poor focus, or how the eyes move while reading. Only a functional eye exam can determine whether a child is struggling with visual difficulties and assess whether vision therapy can help develop and improve these skills. It’s important to note that even a child with 20/20 vision can have a visual dysfunction that interferes with learning.

Vision therapy helps thousands of children a year. The vision therapy program offered at Unger Eye Care can help your child by retraining the brain and eyes to work in unison — offering them their best chance at success.

What Is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy (VT) is a progressive treatment program made up of a variety of eye exercises, personalized to fit the needs of each child. The goal of vision therapy is to develop or enhance fundamental visual skills and abilities while increasing visual comfort and processing. Each treatment session takes place at the office once or twice a week under the supervision of Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger.

To further support in-office treatment and accelerate progress, certain visual exercises are expected to be performed at home on a regular basis.

VT has been proven to improve the following eye conditions:

  • Ambylopia (lazy eye)
  • Strabismus (eye turn)
  • Binocular vision problems
  • Focusing/accommodative disorders
  • Visual-Perceptual difficulties
  • Eye movement problems
  • Visual disorders resulting from brain injury

As part of the therapeutic process, vision therapists turn to various tools, such as specialized lenses, prisms, patches, filters, balance boards, and digital simulations.

Building confidence through vision therapy from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Improved Vision Can Impact Confidence Levels

At the risk of sounding cliche, vision therapy can change lives — especially in children whose vision problems are at the root of academic or other vision-related struggles. Children who once experienced difficulty reading or playing certain sports due to vision problems will now have the skills needed to excel in those areas, leading to improved self-confidence and a feeling of competence.

When simple tasks become obstacles, children may become frustrated, or even angry. For this reason, VT also assists with behavioral issues. Once these daily tasks become easier to perform, episodes of frustration diminish in frequency.

Improving a child’s visual skills with VT allows them to become better learners, and helps them achieve their academic goals. In fact, VT can be a key component in preparing a child for higher education, as increased success can develop a greater belief in one’s abilities. This newfound confidence will inevitably trickle into other areas positively impacting the quality of life and achievements.

With vision therapy, schoolwork, sports, and other daily activities that were once challenging become easier.

The trained visual skills developed through vision therapy empowers the child and shows them that they, too, can succeed. Don’t let poor visual skills hinder your child or yourself from accomplishing goals. Speak with Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger to discover how vision therapy can unlock your or your child’s hidden potential. Call Unger Eye Care today.

Unger Eye Careprovides vision therapy and other services to patients from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

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A Short History of Vision Therapy

girl glasses city 640×350You’ve probably heard about vision therapy – perhaps from another medical professional or others who’ve experienced the benefits firsthand. But questions remain.

That’s where we come in.

Below, we’ll shed light on what vision therapy is, what it isn’t, and how it came to be.

What Is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy (VT) is a subspecialty of optometry consisting of a series of individualized visual exercises to treat the patient’s specific visual needs. Sessions take place regularly, in-office, while under the supervision of an optometrist, and are combined with daily vision at-home exercises performed by the patient.

Vision therapy has been proven to successfully treat or improve the following eye conditions:

  • Strabismus (eye turn)
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Convergence insufficiency
  • Eye-tracking or focusing problems
  • Post-concussion vision problems

We use a host of tools and techniques to strengthen the eye-brain connection, including:

  • Prisms
  • Therapeutic lenses
  • Eye patches
  • Balance boards
  • Electronic visual stimulants
  • Auditory aids
  • Many other specialized tools developed for vision therapy

The goal of vision therapy is to help patients improve or develop visual skills or abilities in order to increase visual comfort and effectively process visual information.

What Vision Therapy Isn’t

VT isn’t meant to rid the patient of glasses or contacts, as it doesn’t correct refractive errors –such as myopia or hyperopia.

You can think of VT as a program that uses various therapies and exercises to retrain the neural processes of the brain thus improving the eye-brain connection. Ultimately, the goal of vision therapy is to teach the patient new visual skills in an engaging and motivating way until the learned skill becomes automatic. So while glasses or contacts are often used in addition to vision therapy, the goal isn’t for the patient to see 20/20 without them.

Who Can Benefit From Vision Therapy?

Adults and children with a vision disorder can benefit from VT.

Someone with a visual disorder may experience any of the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness while reading
  • Poor depth perception
  • Floaters
  • Poor memory
  • Head tilt
  • Blindspot
  • Blurred vision
  • Covering or closing one eye

Note that people with poor visual skills may act out, avoid reading, and consequently have low self-esteem. Improving their visual function will do more than just help with academic or work performance — it can change how they view themselves and improve their self-confidence and self-esteem.

How Did Vision Therapy Come About?

child reading 640×350Vision therapy has been used by practitioners for over 150 years! It was originally developed by ophthalmologists searching for a non-surgical alternative to treat strabismus (eye turn). These ophthalmologists created a series of visual exercises called “orthoptics”, meaning “straightening of eye”.

While orthoptics was effective in straightening the patients’ eyes, it didn’t improve other symptoms of visual dysfunction, such as tracking problems, poor depth-perception, focusing, and processing issues.

In the mid-twentieth century, an innovative group of optometrists realized that for vision therapy to be effective, vision must be viewed as much more than a simple mechanical neuro-muscular system. They then went on to develop and expand vision therapy into the successful method of visual improvement it is today. This new form of vision therapy has been giving patients a whole new way of interacting with the world.

History of Vision Therapy from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Call Unger Eye Care to schedule a functional eye exam and determine whether vision therapy can help you or your children improve vision skills for increased success and a higher quality of life.

Dr. Alice Unger and Dr. Thomas Unger provides vision therapy and other services to patients in Troy, , Edwardsville, Maryville, Glen Carbon, and throughout Illinois.

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