When you read the term “vision therapy,” your brain throws up a question mark. Many people have never heard of vision therapy or even know what it is. However, vision therapy can be extremely beneficial to improving vision, and has changed many lives through the process. To learn more, we talked to Dr. Justin Franks at the EyeCare Center of Saline County (3401 Hwy. 5 N., Bryant; 501-847-9797). Below is what we learned.
Did you know that 80% of learning is visual? Many parents rely on vision screenings in school to check for eye problems, but that isn’t enough. Screenings aren’t always accurate and even when they are performed perfectly, they do not evaluate the entire visual system. Seeing 20/20 is just part of the picture. The entire visual system must work together for successful learning. The main skills are: Saccades (directing both eyes at the same objectat the same time), Pursuits (following an object as it moves), Accommodation (focusing flexiblity from switching from near to far or far to near and maintaining focus at near), and Perceptual (skills and comprehension), which are needed for efficient learning. If any of these skills is not developed the child may have difficulty learning.
Studies indicate that 60% of children identified as “problem learners” actually suffer from undetected vision problems. According to the American Optometric Association’s American Eye-Q® survey, only 39% of adults understand that behavioral problems can be an indication of vision problems.
The symptoms of ADD and ADHD are very similar to visual problems. Therefore, alot of children are misdiagnosed. It is very important in the evaluation of ADD and ADHD to have a comprehensive visual workup to rule out visual problems.
The human visual system is complex. The problems that can develop in our visual system require a variety of treatment options. Many visual conditions can be treated effectively with spectacles or contact lenses alone; however, some are most effectively treated with vision therapy.
Vision therapy is a sequence of activities individually prescribed and monitored by the doctor to develop efficient visual skills and processing. It is prescribed after a comprehensive eye examination has been performed and has indicated that vision therapy is an appropriate treatment option. The vision therapy program is based on the results of standardized tests, the needs of the patient, and the patient’s signs and symptoms. The use of lenses, prisms, filters, occluders, specialized instruments, and computer programs is an integral part of vision therapy.
Vision therapy is administered in the office under the guidance of the doctor. It requires a number of office visits and depending on the severity of the diagnosed conditions, the length of the program typically ranges from several weeks to several months. Activities paralleling in-office techniques are typically taught to the patient to be practiced at home to reinforce the developing visual skills.
Research has demonstrated vision therapy can be an effective treatment option for:
• Ocular motility dysfunctions (eye movement disorders)
• Non-strabismic binocular disorders (inefficient eye teaming)
• Strabismus (misalignment of the eyes)
• Amblyopia (poorly developed vision)
• Accommodative disorders (focusing problems)
• Visual information processing disorders, including visual-motor integration and integration with other sensory modalities
Vision therapy is prescribed to treat diagnosed conditions of the visual system. Effective therapy 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 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.
While Dr. Franks is not the only eye doctor in Arkansas who offers vision therapy, much of
The EyeCare Center of Saline County is devoted to pediatric eye care. “From routine exams to treatment of eye infections and injury, we are prepared to take excellent care of children,” he said.