20/20 Is Not Enough
An Introduction to Vision Therapy
Vision Therapy – Seeing Things from a New Perspective
How We Use Our Eyes
Though our eyes are our most dominant sense, receiving about 80% of the information that reaches our brain, most of us take our eyes for granted. Unless we have a major difficulty seeing, we give little thought to our vision and assume that our eyes are functioning at 100% of their capability. It’s difficult for us to even imagine how life would be improved if we discovered that we were actually suffering needlessly from a distracting and frustrating vision problem.
Unless we hear our children or peers talk about headaches, visual difficulties or problems with school work or computers, such vision problems remain invisible even to ourselves. Most of us are completely unaware of the complex communication process going on between our eyes and our brain, and we really have no idea whether our eyes are working together properly or sending mixed and uncoordinated messages for our brains to interpret.
There is a crucial difference between “sight” and “vision”. Though we are born with sight, vision is actually learned. Sight occurs in the eyes, but vision is the ongoing interplay between the eyes and the brain. Incredible as it sounds, each eye receives about a billion messages every waking second. These images are then sent to the brain, which, in turn, processes them into pictures in our “mind’s eye”. How well your eyes work together to help the brain interpret these messages ultimately determines not only whether your vision is good or bad, but also whether or not you can concentrate.
Why 20/20 Testing is Not Enough
Traditional eye doctors treat sight, not vision. Despite the fact that the science of vision has marched ahead significantly, the familiar “eye chart” used for eye exams has surprisingly remained relatively unchanged since the Civil War. The eye chart was originally designed only to help doctors to determine how well someone can see printed letters from a distance of 20 feet, and to determine whether corrective lenses were needed. But the chart fails to answer the critical question of how well both eyes are working together. That’s why a traditional eye exam will fail to identify vision problems that are vital to concentration, —the higher degree of concentration that reading, writing and working on a computer demand.
Recent studies indicate that approximately 70% of all Americans suffer from some form of vision problem. The National PTA has also recognized undiagnosed vision problems as a serious education issue and has taken the stand that all school-age children should receive a complete Vision Screening, not just 20/20 exams.
The Most Common Vision Problems
You or your children are most likely to notice vision problems when reading or doing concentrated or close work. Occasionally such tasks will cause discomfort or pain. Experiencing headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, or the transposing (flipping) of the positions of words or letters while reading are some of the less obvious manifestations of vision disorders.
Tragically many children who cannot concentrate because of these frustrating vision problems are mislabeled as “learning disabled” or having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD). Vision disorders can shorten a student’s attention span as well as cause frustration–both of which contribute to performance well below a child’s true academic potential. Such children report that they are accused of being “lazy “or “not trying hard enough”—but they are trying as hard as they can. Often the result is that the child or person will assume that he/she is ‘dumb” and just give up. On other occasions, particularly with boys, this frustration turns to anger and acting up in class.
How Vision Therapy Will Help
While traditional eye doctors treat “sight” and are mainly concerned with prescribing eye glasses and checking for eye disease, they rarely, if ever, treat vision problems as do the Developmental Optometrists who are specially trained to diagnose and treat these difficulties. Developmental Optometrists are eye doctors with an advanced education in vision related disabilities. By applying these advanced skills along with the latest therapeutic instruments and techniques they are able to correct most vision disorders without surgery or other invasive procedures.
Developmental Optometrists offer Vision Therapy, which is a neurophysiological treatment that specifically addresses disorders of the eyes and the brain/eye coordination and visual perceptual skills.
Vision Therapy has proven to be extremely effective for improving a variety of visual skills including:
- enhancement of peripheral vision (essential to driving and sports)
- visual reaction time
- eye-hand coordination
- visual memory
- figure-ground perception (separating-out the important parts of an image)
Vision Therapy is also especially effective in enhancing the perceptual skills that are often underdeveloped in children experiencing learning disabilities.
Vision Therapy Can Achieve Results In Just a Few Months
The ultimate goal of vision therapy is to correct visual disorders that prevent children and adults from enjoying full use of their vision. To accomplish this, trained Vision Therapists utilize specialized therapeutic instruments in conjunction with custom-tailored exercises prescribed to retrain the brain to give correct instructions and help sustain visual concentration. These are not eye ‘strengthening” exercises; instead, they teach the brain to send the correct message to the eye muscles so that they can perform correctly and work together. The entire process typically involves only an hour or two a week over a period of three to nine months.
Vision Therapy has a Proven 90% Success Rate
Extensively studies prove that Vision Therapy has been 90% successful in treating the most common visual disorders of adults and has demonstrated comparable results in helping children as well.
Success can be measured in two ways:
- the patient demonstrates improved performance in concentrating, and, as a result, generally feels better at home, work or school
- improvement is clinically measured by comparing the results of objective diagnostic and evaluative tests that are administered before and after treatment
If you suspect that you, or someone you know may be suffering from a vision disorder, don’t wait until it gets worse. Call today.
(610) 783 1331
If you or your child are concerned about symptoms you may be experiencing please take the vision symptoms survey and Dr. Wilamowski will evaluate your answers and respond back promptly whether your symptoms indicate vision therapy could be warranted.
Dr. Janet M. Wilamowski, Optometrist