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All-Pro Arizona Cardinals’ Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald Celebrates ‘August is National Children’s Vision and Learning Month

AURORA, Ohio, July 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As school starts across the United States, the pressure is back on teachers, parents and students to meet or surpass the requirements set forth by the No Child Left Behind act.  However, most parents and teachers are unwittingly being tackled by leaving their students’ vision behind.

“In football you know when you are being tackled, but unfortunately it is more subtle for parents and educators,” Larry Fitzgerald states. “When a student passes a vision screening everyone assumes their vision is fine and the door is closed on the possibility that a correctable vision disorder is contributing to the student’s difficulty with reading.  Yet the majority of vision screenings don’t test how well, or how long, the student can see clearly at reading distance.”

As we enter the 15th year of observing August is National Children’s Vision and Learning Month, Larry Fitzgerald joins the campaign again this year to help set the record straight on the critical link between vision and learning.  “The purpose of this observance is to make sure everyone knows that there are 17 visual skills required for academic success and seeing 20/20 is just one of those visual skills,” Fitzgerald states.

“I was one of those students who didn’t have all the visual skills required for learning.  But I was fortunate that my vision problems were caught early in life,” shares Fitzgerald.   Fitzgerald, who turns 27 on August 31st, is continuing his education through the University of Phoenix as a communications major.

Fitzgerald had a vision problem that was making it difficult to pay attention in school and his grandfather, Dr. Robert Johnson, a developmental optometrist in Chicago, Illinois, diagnosed the vision problem and prescribed the appropriate treatment, optometric vision therapy.

Dr. Stephanie Johnson-Brown, Fitzgerald’s aunt supervised his vision therapy program. Dr. Johnson-Brown is currently the executive director of the Plano Child Development Center, a not-for-profit vision care service corporation which was co-founded by her father, Dr. Johnson, in 1959. The center specializes in vision education and the identification and remediation of vision development problems in children and adults.

Fitzgerald credits the optometric vision therapy he received as a child as one of the keys to his success. Because children don’t know how they are supposed to see and rarely complain, this past March, Fitzgerald made sure his 2-year-old son, Devin’s vision was developing properly, by having his aunt do a thorough vision evaluation.  Dr. Johnson-Brown was pleased to report all is well.

Optometric vision therapy treats vision problems that make reading and learning difficult. According to Dr. Bradley Habermehl, President of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that if a child is seeing double, ghosty or unstable texts it will be hard to read. Yet, if you assume vision is fine, the only possible conclusion one can reach is the child has a learning disability such as ADHD or dyslexia.” According to the American Optometric Association, studies indicate that 60 percent of children identified as “problem learners” actually suffer from undetected vision problems.

Even though there is a wealth of optometric research which proves vision therapy works, there is false or misleading information in the medical community about vision therapy. It can be confusing for parents and educators when they get conflicting opinions.

However, Brock Eide, M.D., M.A. and Fernette Eide, M.D., leading clinicians and writers on learning disabilities state, “In spite of the very positive research findings validating the role vision plays in learning, some are still claiming visual dysfunction plays little or no role in the reading challenges that dyslexics face. This is a shame. When we look specifically at the results of studies performed to address specific visual issues, the evidence supporting visual therapy is quite strong.”

The Eides run the Eide Neurolearning Clinic in Edmonds, Washington, are authors of the popular book, The Mislabled Child: How Understanding Your Child’s Unique Learning Style Can Open the Door to Success, and lecture throughout the U.S. and Canada to parents, educators, therapists, and doctors. Drs. Eides have published extensively in the fields of gifted education, learning disabilities, and twice exceptionalities such as giftedness and dyslexia, and served as consultants to the President’s Council on Bioethics.

“While not all children or adults with dyslexia have visual processing problems, many –at least two-thirds in some studies– do. This makes sense from a neurological standpoint, because several of the structural neurological features associated with dyslexia appear to predispose to visual difficulties,” Dr. Brock Eide adds.

“Not surprisingly, several types of visual difficulties are more common in dyslexic than non-dyslexic children. In one study of dyslexic children, just one type of visual problem, near-point convergence insufficiency, was present in 30-40% of the dyslexic children, compared to just 20% of controls. As can be seen from this control figure, visual processing problems are also quite common in non-dyslexic school-age children,” Eide continues.

Dr. Fernette Eide explains, “The bottom line is that visual problems are common, though not universal, in children who struggle to read; and optometric vision therapy can help address visual problems in children with significant visual dysfunction. A good visual examination is an important part of the workup of every struggling reader.”

According Dr. Habermehl, “When students understand the lesson when it is read to them yet struggle to read it this is a very strong sign that a vision problem may be contributing to their difficulties.”

The five most common signs that a vision problem may be interfering with your student’s ability to read and learn are:

1.  Skips lines, rereads lines

2.  Poor reading comprehension

3.  Takes much longer doing homework than it should take

4.  Reverses letters like “b” into “d” when reading

5.  Has a short attention span with reading and schoolwork

Any one of these symptoms is a sign of a possible vision problem. A more in-depth symptoms checklist is available at the top of this website.

Not all eye doctors test for learning-related vision problems, so it is important for parents to ask the right questions. Call your eye doctor’s office and ask the following two questions:

1.  Do you test for learning-related vision problems?

2.  Do you provide an in-office vision therapy program when indicated, or will you refer me to someone who does?

If the answer is no to either one or both of these questions, call the Vision Development Center to make an appointment @ 610-783-1331 before your child becomes a statistic!

“Vision therapy made a big difference in my life and my career,” shares Fitzgerald; “It is my hope that parents will take the time to learn more about how vision problems can interfere with success in school and in sports.”

LET US UNLOCK YOUR CHILD’S POTENTIAL…

Not all Eye Doctors test for learning-related vision problems

WE DO…

Early detection can maximize potential and transform a child’s life!

Vision Development Center
610-783-1331

Headaches are one symptom, while others include difficulty concentrating, squinting or closing one eye, blurred vision, double vision and difficulty reading. For students, that can translate into a short attention span, fatigue and a tough time maintaining good grades.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Hollywood studios and TV manufacturers are banking on 3-D to be the next big thing in entertainment. But for people with certain eye problems, the idea of a 3-D movie isn’t much fun at all.

Associated Press. People wear 3-D glasses to watch “Avatar” at the Seoul Digital Forum in South Korea.

Between three million and nine million people in the U.S. have vision problems that would prevent them from watching 3-D movies and TV shows, even though they can see two-dimensional images, according to the American Optometric Association.

Normally, each eye views the world from a slightly different perspective, and when the brain puts the two images together, the person gets a sense of three dimensions. Movies using 3-D technology mimic this effect on a two-dimensional screen by using glasses to put one image in one eye and another, somewhat different, image in the other eye. But people who can’t coordinate their eyes well or focus appropriately can be unable to see the 3-D effects at all, said Dominick Maino, professor of pediatrics and binocular vision at the Illinois College of Optometry.

Even people with good vision could experience discomfort while watching because of the way 3-D technology works, said Lisa Park, a clinical assistant professor with the Department of Ophthamology at NYU’s Langone Medical Center. “You’re trying to force the eyes to look at two images and trying to trick the brain into thinking that the images are actually three-dimensional” — a situation that is bound to cause strain in some people, she said.

People with mild vision problems may feel discomfort or nausea and “will just close an eye through the whole movie” because of it, or they may experience dizziness or headaches but not associate them with their vision, Dr. Maino said.

Shannon Wyatt, a certified athletic trainer in Oak Park, Ill., said she felt nauseated after watching “Avatar” but chalked it up to low blood sugar until talking with Dr. Maino. “I saw the movie ‘Up,’ and I don’t think that bothered me a whole lot,” she said. “‘A Christmas Carol’ bothered me, but ‘Avatar’ was the worst.” She has since been undergoing therapy for what is known as a convergence disorder, in which the eyes are not able to turn toward each other adequately.

The American Optometric Association recommends that people see an eye doctor and be evaluated for binocular-vision dysfunction if they experience headaches, nausea or dizziness after watching 3-D programming.

Dr. Park said many people who are uncomfortable watching 3-D movies should avoid watching them, especially for long periods of time.

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Convergence insufficiency may affect 5-12 percent of American children

Image via Wikipedia According to the American Optometric Association, 60 percent of students identified as “problem learners” may actually have undetected vision problems. One of those problems could be something called convergence insufficiency. “They said, ‘Oh he does have this convergence insufficiency in his eyes,’ and I thought, ‘Oh that’s a big name for something, […]

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Larry Fitzgerald is helping eye doctors spread the word

Arizona Cardinals 2008 NFC West Champions’ wide-receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, is helping eye doctors spread the word to parents that vision problems can interfere with a child’s ability to pay attention, read and learn. “Even if you have been told your child has perfect vision or 20/20 vision , your child could still be at-risk of having a learning-related vision problem ,” warns Fitzgerald.

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Why Can’t My Child Read?

by Susan R. Barry, Ph.D. As another school year is brought to a close, we need to ask again why so many children struggle in their classes. Sometimes the answer is right in the front of our face. When I was in second grade, I did miserably on a standardized achievement test. The school principal […]

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