Vision and learning
The visual system is more than just the eyes; it is an integration of the entire body. Vision is the ability to visualize, understand and apply the information that comes through the eyes. Children with 20/20 sight may not have these abilities. Therefore, learning problems are often related to vision problems.
Key benefits to visual training:
- Train the visual skills necessary for our daily demands.
- Enhancing reading and learning potential.
- Improve the ability in our visual system to sustain the function.
- Create a stable, reliable information gathering system.
What is Visual therapy/stimulation?
Visual therapy/stimulation is often defined as physical exercise for your eyes and brain. It is a sequence of activities individually prescribed and monitored to develop efficient visual skills and processing. The vision therapy/stimulation program is based on the results of standardized tests. Effective therapy/stimulation requires visual skills to be developed until they are integrated with other systems and become automatic, enabling individuals to achieve their full potential. The goals of a prescribed vision therapy/stimulation treatment regimen are to achieve desired visual outcomes, alleviate the signs and symptoms, meet the patient’s needs, and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Vision therapy (VT) is a subspecialty of optometry that strives to improve, enhance and/or develop visual performance through a prescribed treatment program that is designed to literally build new neural patterns. Patients learn to use their visual abilities in new or more efficient ways by participating in various vision exercises that utilize the use of lenses, prisms, filters, patches and other materials and equipment
PLEASE NOTE THAT EVERY CHILD NEEDS TO BE TESTED BY AN OPTOMETRIST OR OPTHAMOLOGIST BEFORE STARTING WITH VISUAL THERAPY/STIMULATION.
Before Visual therapy is recommended, the following components must be tested:
- Visual Acuity: Examination of eyesight (clarity of vision).
- Accommodative flexibility (focus change ability): The ability to change focus easily and accurately from distance to near and the other way around, i.e. copying from a blackboard.
- Tracking: The ability to follow a moving target (reading across the lines of a page).
- Saccadic eye movement: Very fast jumps from one eye position to another.
- Fusion: The ability of the brain (neural process) to fuse two identical pictures received from each eye into a single picture and hold this picture single while learning from it.
- Stereo Vision: The perception of a three dimensional picture. This indicates the ability of the eyes to fuse two separate images into one.
- Convergence: Closest point at which single, clear vision can be maintained (the ability of the eyes to pull together).
- Divergence: Recovery from the convergence position.
- Cover test: Testing of a deviation in the alignment of the eye.
Research has demonstrated vision therapy can be an effective treatment option for:
- Ocular motility dysfunctions (tracking or eye movement disorders)
- Non-strabismic binocular disorders (inefficient eye teaming)
- Strabismus (Squint)
- Amblyopia (“Lazy eye”)
- Accommodative disorders (focusing problems).
Signs to look out for:
- Frequently rubbing his/her eyes
- Suffers from red, burning eyes
- Eyes are teary after reading
- Reading difficulties
- Headaches after reading
- Closes one eye when reading
- Losing place while reading
- Skipping lines while reading
- Difficulty copying from blackboard
- Reverses letters
- Avoids near tasks
- Avoids distance tasks
- Intermittent blur
- Words moving on page
- Sleepy after reading
- Squints eyes
- Sits close to TV
- Reads with book close to his/her face
- Excessive blinking
- Difficulty with comprehension
If you answer “yes” to four or more of the above, it would be advisable to have your child’s eyes examined.
VISUAL PERCEPTUAL EVALUATION:
Visual perception is the ability to make sense of what is seen. It allows us to process visual stimuli in order to identify what we see and, thus, understand the world in which we live.
Children with difficulties within this skill area do not automatically pick up the visual details like you or I. They do not make good “drawers” and typically do not like puzzles, mazes, dot to dots, etc. These types of activities require that the child take in lots of visual information, organize it, and then complete the activity as intended. All of this is hard and, thus, not fun for a child with visual perceptual difficulties.
Children with deficits in this skill area may have trouble finding specific information on a page, difficulty remembering sight words, or may omit words as they read. A typical child might automatically know how to complete various types of worksheets received at school but a child with this type of deficit may not automatically understand the organization of the worksheets. Copying information accurately may be a chore for these students as well.
The TVPS-3 consists of 7 components:
- Visual Discrimination -The ability to discriminate dominant features of objects; for example, the ability to discriminate position, shape, colour and form.
- Visual Memory -The ability to recognize one stimulant item after a brief interval.
- Visual Spatial Relation -The ability to perceive the positions of objects in relation to oneself and/or other objects.
- Visual Form Constancy -The ability to identify a figure/shape when displaced differently in space.
- Visual Sequential Memory -The ability to recognize more than one stimulant item after a brief interval.
- Visual Figure Ground -The ability to identify an object from a complex background or surrounding objects.
- Visual Closure -The ability to identify a whole figure when only fragments are presented.
Depending on the test result the following can be resolved by Visual Therapy/stimulation:
Visual or Binocular skills:
- Focusing skills
- Strabismus (Eye squint)
- Visual Perceptual skills
- Reading skills
- Visual therapy/stimulation to treat each individual specific needs
- Visual Perceptual Skills testing and treatment
- Computer-based reading and perceptual exercises
- Wise Eye reading program
- Visual screenings presented in office and on school premises
- Specialized therapy/stimulation programs adapted for children with disabilities