We were amazed by this patient story…
A mother bought her son to their optometrist, concerned by his lacking school results and inability to concentrate. Convinced the family GP’s diagnosis of ADD was not addressing the underlying symptoms of her son’s behavioural problems, she sought alternatives to the prescription her son had been given. Her son sat down in the chair. Almost as soon as the vision examination began, a major problem was identified.
“… and how many fingers do you see?” the optometrist held a single finger between the boy’s eyes.
“Try again, look closely, how many fingers do you see?”
“… What about now, how many pens do you see?” the optometrist held a single pen up to the boy’s face.
“Okay. Do you always see two of things?”
“Yes, of course! I have two eyes don’t I!?”
This true story is a telling example of how easily our children’s vision difficulties can be overlooked. Children are resilient and adaptive and they have little understanding of what constitues ‘normal vision’.
Other developmental skills are taught - vision, though a learned skill, is not taught and is not as easily evaluated. As the skills develop, a child has no frame of reference through which to understand their level of vision and no way of evaluating their visual skill set against that of their peers. Aside from asking ‘do you see that?’ there is no simple method to check how the development of your child’s visual system is progressing.
To complicate things further, your child is unlikely to complain of vision related symptoms because they will usually accept these symptoms as normal. A child with vision difficulties such as double vision, will often compensate for their problem and neglect to vocalise their difficulty – after all, how are they to know they see any differently to their peers?
Our patient conversation continues,
“You play sports don’t you?”
“Yes, I play cricket.”
“How do you catch the ball when you see two? How do you know which one to catch?”
“Well, I usually catch in the middle of the two balls.”
This is an amazing example of how children are able to compensate for their visual difficulties. An outstanding young sportsman, the above patient had developed a clever technique to help him continue to play the sport he loved. Other children are reluctant to persevere in similar circumstances and understandably so! Can you imagine seeing the world like this?
So how do we know if our children are suffering from undiagnosed vision problems?
Most importantly, have your child’s visual system evaluated by a behavioural optometrist. A comprehensive evaluation goes beyond the 20/20 sight test and tests a child’s visual skills and abilities beyond acuity - ’seeing clearly’. There is much more to good vision than having clear sight and it is imperative that your child’s visual system is properly evaluated. The above patient was told after a previous vision examination that he had clear, 20/20 vision. This is true, but this test neglected to look beyond the clarity of the child’s vision to see there was actually a major visual processing problem!
If you are unsure, ask your optometrist the following questions;
Can you test my child’s:
- eye tracking
- visual recall
- visual processing
What if my child does have an undiagnosed vision problem?
The good news is, if your child does have an underlying vision problem, it can be treated! Vision is a learned skill and therefore can be trained with the help of a qualified behavioural optometrist.
The advent of computerised 3D vision therapy programs, such as our Vision-2-Learn Program, has meant vision therapy sessions are no longer tedious and drawn out with mixed results. Young patients were (not surprisingly!) less than thrilled with the boring and outdated vision therapy methods - asking your child to stare at a moving pen in their free time was not met with great enthusiasm!
Now, most children are treated within 3-6 months with home vision therapy sessions lasting no more than 15 minutes a few times per week. Best of all it’s not like pulling teeth trying to get your child to complete their vision therapy, computerised vision therapy is FUN! Children enjoy playing the 3D vision therapy games and are rewarded for their efforts with printable certificates as they progress through the levels. The results we see are outstanding and a wealth of research from some of the world’s most prestigious universities agrees!
What are the signs of a vision problem in my child?
From the incredible patient story you have just read, you will appreciate vision problems can be easily overlooked so it is important to have your child tested by a qualified behavioural optometrist.
Here are some signs to look out for;
1) Child not achieving to potential
2) Slow reading speed
3) Reduced comprehension
4) Learning difficulty
5) Skips words or loses place
6) Reverses letters or words e.g. was = saw
7) Tired or fatigued after school
8) Easily distracted
9) Attention issues
1) Words become blurry
2) Works close to the page
3) Closes one eye or covers eye with hand
4) Uses finger to read
5) Rubs eyes during or after periods of reading
6) Words seem to ‘move’ on the page
7) Has a tendency to knock things over on a desk or table
8) Avoids homework or reading
1) Eye turn when tired
2) Turns or tilts head when reading
3) Squinting or closing of one eye
4) Excessive blinking or rubs eyes
5) Poor visual/motor skills (hand-eye coordination)
6) Headaches or eyestrain
7) Nausea or dizziness
8) Motion sickness or car sickness
9) Double vision
Please forward any questions you have to Dr. Lazarus on the Contact Us Page.