When your child experiences difficulty with reading and performing other school activities, all your parenting instincts kick into high gear. There are many tests and evaluations that can be done to get to the root of the the problem. Don't let it all overwhelm you. But do give a full assessment of your child's vision high ranking on the priority list. The evaluation should go beyond standard procedures to determine if the youngster needs corrective lenses to achieve optimal vision. Further testing can reveal functional vision deficit, a condition that is corrected or successfully managed through vision therapy.
Signs You Might Notice That Indicate a Vision Deficit
You and your child's teacher can often see little hints that your child's response to certain visual cues is not the same as other children's. Indications could include these:
- Lack of recognition of certain colors. The child may not be able to pick out a red ball—or green or blue or yellow—from a collection of balls on the playground.
- Skipping lines of text, numbers in an equation, or objects in a graphic display.
- Reduced peripheral vision. One indicator is if the child's head moves side to side in order to read across a standard-size page.
- Sensitivity to environmental factors, such as light and darkness. You might see your child squinting for extended periods of time or rubbing eyes frequently in a particularly dim or bright setting.
Other Signs a Qualified Vision Specialist Might Identify
Some symptoms of functional visual deficit aren't easily recognized without the proper equipment and testing techniques. Testing may include checking for balance when the child is walking or running. It could also involve reading with different colors of filters placed over the page. And sometimes the specialist will ascertain whether one eye is working harder than the other, causing eyestrain, distraction, and possibly headaches.
Convergence insufficiency (CI) is one example of the type of vision deficit an optometrist can diagnose through testing. When this condition is present, your child's eyes do not turn inward to focus on a specific area for reading any types of characters—letters, numbers, or graphic objects. Your child can become frustrated because reading is a slow and tedious process when CI is present.
Fortunately, CI can be treated. Recent studies by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health have shown that vision therapy conducted in a specialist's office is the most effective type of treatment. The therapy is supplemented by exercises done at home. Your participation in helping your child schedule and do the exercises as recommended will have a positive impact for a successful outcome.
What to Do after a Functional Visual Deficit Is Diagnosed
Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can refer you to a trained vision therapist. The therapist may be part of the doctor's practice, or you may need to go to another office for the treatments. Regardless of where the therapy occurs, make it a fun outing for your child. Your upbeat attitude will reinforce your child's willingness to tackle the "work" part of the treatment.
Depending on the type of visual deficit you're dealing with, the therapy may involve the following:
- Wearing a patch over the strongest eye, allowing for the weaker eye's muscles to develop.
- Doing exercises with an interactive computerized program. This might look like a video game, and a great therapist will help it seem just as fun.
- Training the eyes to follow objects smoothly.
- Playing on rocker boards and walking the beam as exercises to develop better balance.
Your efforts to identify and help solve your child's vision problems will be rewarded as you child gains greater visual function and the confidence that comes with it. For further information about this issue, contact a representative from a company like Absolute Vision Care.