According to hearing health providers, nearly one in five Americans age 12 years and older – 48 million people – experience hearing loss severe enough to hinder communication. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent age-related disability in adults age 75 years plus, following arthritis and hypertension. Only 5 percent of hearing loss in adults can be improved medically or surgically. The vast majority of Americans with hearing loss are treated with hearing aids.



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For some seniors,getting a good night’s sleep is an everyday challenge. Some sleep specialists recommend seniors sleep about seven and a half hours on average, while others say seniors need to get as much sleep as they always have to function at their best. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) convened experts from the fields of sleep research, anatomy and physiology as well as pediatrics, neurology and gerontology to reach a consensus from the broadest range of scientific disciplines.


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Therapist Jennifer Lord can testify to the effectiveness of the program. Her own daughter, whom she homeschooled, had been having trouble reading, and she had a strong emotional reaction to being made to read.

“She just couldn’t do it,” Jennifer said. “It was physically painful for her.”

She and her husband tried everything and went to numerous professionals for help. When they came to Family Eyecare Associates, Dr. Graebe was at last able to diagnose their daughter’s problem and recommend a program of therapy that helped her rehabilitate and find and reach her potential.

Impressed with her child’s improvement, Jennifer, who has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in counseling, was glad to accept a job with the Children’s Vision and Learning Center. She believes she assists not only her young patients but their nervous parents as well.

“I can say to the parents, ‘Let me tell you about my experience,’” she said. “As a parent, there was shame in the sense that there was something wrong with my child, and then you see there are others just like you. It normalizes the situation. You see someone struggling like you. A lot of people are afraid the therapy won’t work. I can explain their results and tell them it does work.”

Dr. Rick Graebe, OD, FCOVD, and Dr. Regina Callihan, OD, offer the general optometric services, tests and treatments you’ll find at most eyecare facilities, from computerized eye exams for both children and adults to top-quality eyeglasses and contact lenses. But for both doctors, eye health isn’t just a matter of having so-called 20/20 vision.

“People tend to think of eyesight and vision as the same thing,” Dr. Graebe said. “There is such a difference. You can have great eyesight but that doesn’t mean you have great vision. It’s so much more than just, ‘Can I see the eye chart?’ Vision involves how our eyes, brain and body interact because 70 percent of the input that comes to the brain is through the eyes. People are more active these days and we can provide them with the tools they need to get the most benefit.”

“We have more services under one roof than probably anywhere else in the area,” Dr. Callihan said.

While you will find standard eye-health equipment at Family Eyecare Associates, there are many more exciting enhancements to discover, whatever your visual problem may be.

“We get referrals from everywhere,” Dr. Graebe said. “We’ve seen problems here nobody else has been able to solve. A lot of our patients ask isn’t there anything we can do for them, and the answer is yes.


For 60 percent of my patient base, the problem is their eyes aren’t tracking properly or their visual system isn’t matching the output of their other sensory systems. That mismatch creates stress.”

Using therapies such as neuro-optometric visual training and syntonic phototherapy (also known as optometric phototherapy), patients with visual and visually related conditions such as headaches, eyestrain, amblyopia (lazy eye), double vision and strabismus (crossed eyes) can see marked improvement. Syntonic phototherapy indirectly balances the autonomic nervous system and the brain’s biochemistry. It is a groundbreaking, growing aspect of Family Eyecare Associates that can benefit numerous patients.

Another aspect that makes Family Eyecare Associates stand out is the Children’s Vision and Learning Center attached to the main office. Here children of all different ages are tested and evaluated for reading and school performance. Children in these programs average over a three-year improve- ment in performance in as little as 30 weeks.


Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine

more articles by Tanya Tyler

Adult patients benefit from visual therapy as well as children. Jennifer said many patients come to Family Eyecare Associates with visual stress.

“They’re constantly producing adrenalin,” she explained. “They’re in flight-or-fight mode. That collapses the visual field so they just see bits of the bigger picture.”

A reduced visual field impacts all aspects of daily living, including work proficiency and academic performance. Symptoms include losing your place when reading, skipping lines or words and seeing words moving on the page of something you’re reading. Limited peripheral awareness may lead to difficulty with balance, coordination, driving and sports performance. Among other devices, special color filters are used to open up the visual field and balance out the visual system. Short-term syntonic phototherapy treatment has been shown to significantly improve peripheral vision, memory and academic achievement.

“Like in occupational therapy or physical therapy, what we’re actually doing is creating new pathways for the brain,” Dr. Graebe said. “If you practice something regularly enough, the brain decides, ‘I will find a simple, easy way to do this and create a new pathway so I don’t have to think about it anymore; I’ll go on autopilot.’ And that’s what happens. As neurologists say, ‘Nerves that fire together wire together.’”

Dr. Graebe focuses on three areas in therapy. One is visual efficiency: how well the eyes point, track and move focus together. The second area is perceptual processing, including visual memory, visual discrimination, spatial awareness, timing and visualization, or the ability to make pictures in your head. The third area is sensory integration, because the brain, eyes and body all have to work together to achieve optimum performance.

“My definition of therapy is creating an environment where the brain gets a more meaningful experience, and with the extra feedback learning takes place, ” Dr. Graebe said. “When determining if a patient will benefit from therapy, it comes down to a couple of basic questions: What’s my potential? Am I currently achieving at my potential?”

Making a difference that assures his patients’ school and work success is something Dr. Graebe strives for. He refers to himself as a vision performance expert.

“I know how to maximize someone’s visual performance, whether it be through lenses or training,” he said. “Better visual performance allows people to reach their full potential. When they come here, they’ve hit a stumbling block. We get them through it with the foundation they need and they can build and go from there. It’s where my heart is.”