Skip to main content
Home »

News

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 Advanced Eyecare & Therapies 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 therapt 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 Advanced Eyecare & Therapies in Spokane today.

References:

Request An Appointment
Call 509-213-1144

10 Things About Vestibular Disorders You Probably Didn’t Know

tired woman 640The vestibular system is what helps us feel balanced and stable. People with vestibular disorders may experience symptoms like frequent dizzy spells, blurred vision, disorientation, falling, or stumbling. What many don’t know is that an optometrist trained in the field of neuro-optometry may be able to help. Read on to learn more about vestibular disorders and how we may be able to treat your dizziness.

10 Quick Facts About Vestibular Disorders

  1. Vestibular disorders affect more than 35% of adults over the age of 40.
  2. The vestibular system is made up of tiny fluid-filled parts within the inner ear, acting like a builder’s level, communicating with specific areas of the brain to process balance and movement.
  3. Other symptoms of vestibular disorders include nausea, fatigue, difficulty focusing on objects, poor concentration, difficulty reading, hearing loss, and ringing in the ear. Many of these symptoms may overlap with other conditions, so be sure to visit your doctor or eye doctor to rule out these conditions.
  4. Vestibular disorders can be caused by injury, disease, drug or chemical poisoning, ageing, and autoimmune diseases.
  5. Certain lifestyle changes can help ease symptoms of vestibular disorders. Reducing your intake of salt, caffeine, and alcohol could improve your condition.
  6. Vestibular disorders can be challenging to diagnose. Many patients report visiting four or more physicians over the course of several years before receiving a proper diagnosis.
  7. Some common vestibular disorders are benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), labyrinthitis, vestibular neuritis, Meniere’s disease, and vestibular migraine.
  8. Sadly, patients with undiagnosed vestibular disorders may sometimes be perceived as lazy, anxious, inattentive, or attention-seeking.
  9. While there is no cure for vestibular disorders, some treatments can help cope with the condition, such as medications, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and surgery. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation, which is a form of vision therapy, can be life-changing for some patients.
  10. There is hope! Neuro-optometrists who perform neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can help many patients suffering from dizziness or other symptoms of vestibular disorders by improving the way the brain processes information. In some cases, vestibular disorders are caused or exacerbated by poor coordination between the eyes and the brain. With neuro-optometric therapy, patients learn how to train their eyes and brain to work in unison, lessening or eliminating many of the symptoms associated with the condition, including dizziness and disorientation.

If you are experiencing dizziness, contact Advanced Eyecare & Therapies to schedule your functional visual evaluation. If your vision is healthy and doesn’t seem to be contributing to your symptoms, we can refer you to other health care professionals who can help.

Advanced Eyecare & Therapies serves patients from Spokane, Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint, all throughout Washington.

Request An Appointment
Call 509-213-1144

How One Football Player Became a Pro Thanks To Sports Vision Training

football player 640Larry Fitzgerald Jr. is a well-known NFL wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals. He played college football at Pittsburgh, where he earned uncontested All-America honors. He was drafted by the Cardinals third overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. He has had a long and distinguished career.

What many don’t know is that as a young child, Fitzgerald struggled in school. Fortunately, his grandfather, Robert Johnson, the founder of an optometry clinic in Chicago, understood the central role visual skills play in reading, writing, and sports activities.

Dr. Johnson created a vision therapy program for his grandson to strengthen the skills he needed to succeed in school. By the time he turned 12 years old, Fitzgerald became interested in sports and wanted to strengthen the visual skills he needed to boost his sports performance. Dr. Johnson began to tailor his grandson’s vision therapy exercises to facilitate his success on the football field.

The aim of a vision therapy program is to improve visual skills— eye-tracking, focusing, eye-hand coordination, peripheral vision, visual processing speed, and more!

Visual Skills Necessary For Sports Performance

Sports activities require speed and accuracy for optimal performance. These skills allow you to track a ball as it flies through the air, assume the correct position to catch it, and accurately pass it to another player.

The following skills are essential for optimal sports performance:

  • Dynamic visual acuity
  • Eye-tracking
  • Eye focusing
  • Peripheral vision
  • Depth perception
  • Visual reaction time
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Visual memory
  • Visualization
  • Visual concentration

Thanks to vision therapy, Fitzgerald was able to improve his precision, control, spatial judgment, and rhythm. Fitzgerald is a firm believer that visual training helped him become a successful football player.

“There is definitely a connection between the vision therapy that I did as a child and my performance on the field,” Fitzgerald has said. “A number of the drills in football camp reminded me of things I did in vision therapy that helped develop reaction time, eye-hand coordination, and visualization skills.

Can Vision Therapy Improve Visual Skills For Sports?

Yes. Most binocular vision conditions are caused by problems within the brain-eye connections, or visual processing. If a vision problem is detected, a vision therapy program can help to retrain your visual system to improve your vision skills.

If you want to improve your game, vision therapy may be just what you need. Contact Dr. Wylie to schedule a comprehensive vision evaluation to assess your visual skills and to determine whether vision therapy is right for you.

Advanced Eyecare & Therapies serves patients from Spokane, Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene, and Sandpoint, all throughout Washington.