Hidden Vision Disabilities Can Cause Reading Problems

VISION THERAPY AND ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY

The eye is amazing. Did you know more than 1.9 million fibers come from the eye into the brain? Each of those fibers creates its own pathway to the brain and has its own distinct function. So when someone has a stroke or other acquired brain injury (ABI), vision is often affected.  ABIs include concussions suffered in severe sports-related hits or a car accident, as well as cerebral or vascular strokes. An ABI can affect both neurological pathways in the eye, the focal or parvocellular pathway, which is....

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SYNTONICS: CREATING BALANCE FOR THE EYES

Syntonics, or optometric phototherapy, is a form of light therapy used to treat a variety of vision problems. It is available at Family Eyecare Associates to help patients with a variety of vision problems, such as strabismus (eye turns), amblyopia (lazy eye), focusing and convergence problems and learning disorders. It has also been shown to be very effective for people who suffer from migraines.

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WHAT IS BEHAVIORAL OPTOMETRY?

Behavioral optometry starts with the concept that vision is learned. When we’re born, we don’t know how to use our arms, legs and hands. We also don’t know how to use our eyes. We have to learn how to integrate them with the rest of our body. The brain must process what the eyes are seeing, and then it has to integrate that information with the other senses. From a behav- ioral standpoint, seeing requires a more holistic approach, getting all the senses to work together.

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HIDDEN VISION DISABILITIES CAN CAUSE READING PROBLEMS

Visual efficiency is more than 20/20 vision, and there is much more to reading problems than dyslexia or ADHD.


About 85 percent of schooling is visual-based. About 75 percent of children with reading difficulties actually have a problem with their two eyes working together properly, such as binocular vision deficiencies. A binocular vision impairment is any visual condition wherein binocular visual skills are inadequately developed. Binocular vision impairments often result in partial or total loss of stereoscopic vision and binocular depth perception. They are fairly common; at least 12 percent of the population has some type of problem with binocular vision.


The difference between eyesight and vision can be like a foreign language. When a child can see but not understand writing, every word seems to be written in a foreign language. It takes so much effort to decipher it that the child gives up eventually.


Vision is our dominant sense; 70 percent of the information that comes into the brain is visual. Visual efficiency involves tracking, converging and pointing. Tracking is what happens when the mind turns words into images. Convergence is the crossing of the two eyes to see things up close for reading, and it requires the lens to work harder. Pointing refers to the eyes’ position in looking at something. Within the center

of the retina is a BB-sized structure called the macula that is used for tracking and pointing. The macula needs to be laser sharp for seeing details to efficiently identify individual letters. If too much effort is required and the macula gets off track, the reader can miss things on the page. This can also cause other symptoms such as head- aches and fatigue.


Vision skills are initially learned through interacting in the world, just as other forms of natural learning, such as walking, are learned. When there are no vision problems, everything goes smoothly. But when there are hidden vision problems, the real world is not providing enough information for the necessary feedback for the brain to learn. Without feedback, the brain doesn’t learn, so neural pathways do not form; in other cases, the neural pathways are damaged. It is never too late to train the brain to make new neural pathways if one puts in the effort. And this effort comes through new stimuli and feedback.


Eye therapy sessions can help numerous people with all types of vision problems, including children with reading difficulties. Therapy sessions are highly customized for each patient and can include goggles that show how the eye

moves when reading and gauge reading level; virtual reality machines; prisms; special lenses; flashing lights; computerized learning; balls; trampolines; and more. There is usually a three-year jump in skill level within 30 weeks of therapy. Patients labeled ADHD had those symptoms eliminated after undergoing therapy to correct reading problems. Even dyslexia symptoms can be alleviated with therapy, and prism therapy has helped wheelchair bound patients walk with more stability.


Is your child living up to his or her potential? When performance doesn’t match potential and effort, tests can pick up hidden disabilities.

DR. RICK GRAEBE

Dr. Graebe received both his B.S degree in Visual Science and Doctorate of Optometry from Indiana University. He is a Behavioral Optometrist and learning expert. He has been in private practice here in the Bluegrass area for the past 32 years.

more articles by dr rick graebe