There are many important skills children need for the visual system to work efficiently. Sometimes these skills don’t develop the way they should. This happens for a variety of known and unknown reasons. Vision Therapy is a service provided by optometrists that helps people/children improve their visual abilities. Vision Therapy works to improve these basic visual abilities, much like Occupational Therapy or Speech Therapy works to improve other basic skills.
When discussing visual skills, certain terms are of importance: Tracking, Binocularity/Eye Teaming, Fixation, Focus Change, and Visual Perception.
- Tracking: The ability to follow a moving object with your eyes. Imagine watching someone throw a ball to you. Your eyes follow the path of the ball to your hands. Tracking is also vitally important when reading. You must be able to move your eyes accurately to get the full meaning when reading a line of print.
- Binocularity/Eye Teaming: While our eyes are supposed to work as a team so that they perfom in unison, this teaming is not guaranteed by design. It must be acquired and learned during the preschool years and not all children adequately develop this skill. It can interfere with learning, especially in areas of comprehension and spatial relations.
- Fixation: The ability to find and look at a series of stationary objects-like looking at words on a page. When reading, fixation is very important.
- Focus Change: In school, children use this skill constantly. Every time they look from the board to their paper and back, they are changing focus.
- Visual Perception: Form perception problems are usually a result of difficulties in the discrimination of visible likenesses and differences. There is confusion with similarities, inattention to slight differences, reversals in reading and reversals of letters. This produces difficulties in spelling and writing.
If you or someone you know would benefit from Vision Therapy, the first step is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fox. She will meet with you, perform a complete vision examination and visual skills assessment, and explain what is best for you. If further perceptual testing is needed, that will be a separate appointment. If a Visual Therapy progam is needed, it will involve at home exercises done with monthly progress checks. It will be designed for your specific visual skill needs. You will be guided through activities designed to correct visual processing problems and to help build visual skill. These exercises usually take about 15 minutes a day and are done on a daily basis. Depending on the areas of need, a Visual Therapy program usually lasts between 6-12 months.
Copyright 2011 Optometric Extension Program Foundation