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Can Vision Therapy Help Myopia?

Can Vision Therapy Help Myopia 640You may have heard of vision therapy in the context of helping adults and children with a lazy eye, eye turn, or learning difficulties.

But did you know that in some cases, vision therapy may also be effective in preventing, reducing, or slowing myopia (nearsightedness)?

While it’s true that scientists haven’t yet found a cure for myopia, vision therapy may help by targeting certain contributing factors of myopia.

To assess whether vision therapy is right for your child, call The Vision Therapy Center at Advanced Eye Care in South Charleston today.

But First, How Does Vision Therapy Work?

To give you a better sense of what vision therapy is, here are some facts. Vision therapy:

  • Is a non-invasive set of visual exercises tailored to your specific needs
  • May involve the use of specialized prisms or filters, computerized aids, balance beams, and other therapeutic tools
  • Trains the brain and eyes to work as a team
  • Develops visual skills like eye tracking, teaming, accommodation, convergence, visual processing, visual memory, focusing, and depth perception
  • May involve an at-home component, like daily visual exercises
  • Is evidence-based. Published data has shown that it can be an effective program to improve reading, learning, overall school and sports performance

How Does Vision Therapy Relate To Myopia?

While vision therapy may not be able to fully reverse or treat myopia, some nearsighted people appear to benefit from it.

Some vision therapists have reported patients’ myopia improvement during or after the vision therapy process. This may be due to a strengthened visual skill called accommodation—the eyes’ ability to maintain clear focus on objects. Poor focusing skills have been linked to myopia. In fact, research shows that having an accommodation lag (when the eyes can’t pull the focus inwards enough to clearly see a very close object) could be a risk factor for myopia development and progression. That said, it’s worth noting that research findings are still mixed on this matter.

Accommodative spasm, also known as “pseudo-myopia,” occurs when the eyes lock their focus on a near object and then have difficulty releasing the focus to view distant objects. The reason this is considered a false myopia is because it has to do with the focusing mechanism of the lens rather than the elongation of the eye, the main characteristic of myopia.

Pseudo-myopia can be treated with vision therapy, assuming the accommodation spasm is the only culprit for blurred distance vision. In this case, the patient may no longer need to wear prescription lenses for vision correction following a successful vision therapy program,

So what’s the bottom line?

In some cases, vision therapy may be able to improve a person’s blurry vision—but research on the subject is ongoing.

If you or your child has myopia and you’re curious as to whether vision therapy can help, schedule a functional visual assessment for your child.

To schedule your appointment with Rebecca St. Jean, O.D. and Elicia Miller, O.D., call The Vision Therapy Center at Advanced Eye Care today.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rebecca St. Jean

 

Q: #1: Who can benefit from vision therapy?

  • A: Children and adults with visual dysfunction can benefit from a personalized program of vision therapy. Visual dysfunction can manifest in many ways, including—but not limited to—behavioral and learning problems, coordination difficulties, headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and attention deficits.

Q: #2: Do all optometrists offer vision therapy?

  • A: No. You should only seek vision therapy from a qualified optometrist experienced in offering vision therapy for a variety of visual disorders. Other types of therapists sometimes claim to offer vision therapy, but only an eye doctor can prescribe the necessary visual treatments for optimal results.
  • The Vision Therapy Center at Advanced Eye Care serves patients from South Charleston, Davis Creek, Hillsdale, Institute, and throughout West Virginia.

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Call Us 304-244-2443

The Importance of Binocular Vision in Sports

The Importance of Binocular Vision in Sports 640Binocular vision is the ability to create a single image with both eyes while maintaining visual focus on an object. Sometimes our eyes fail to integrate visual information into one coherent image. This integration is important, as it allows athletes to perceive three-dimensional depth and relationships between people or objects, such as another player or a ball.

Since each eye is in a different position relative to any object, the eyes convey slightly different spatial information and send these varying images to the brain. The brain then uses the differences between the signals from the two eyes to accurately judge depth, speed, and distance.

When binocular vision isn’t operating at peak capacity, it impacts an athlete’s reaction time and the speed and accuracy of their movements.

Reduced binocular vision doesn’t mean that athletes are constantly falling over or fumbling. What it does mean, however, is that they may misjudge the velocity or direction of a ball, or collide more with other players.

How Does Reduced Binocular Vision Affect Athletes?

When our brain and eyes don’t work efficiently as a team, especially while playing sports, it can affect timing, depth perception, reactions, accuracy, and speed.

Visual deficits hinder how an athlete responds to what they see. If there is an issue with a player’s vision, there will most likely be an issue with their balance and body awareness.

Visual Skills Needed For Sports

There are many visual skills athletes need to perform their best during a game.

Accommodation – is the eyes’ ability to change their focus from distant to near objects and vice versa. For example, when a football player looks at other players coming toward them, then shifts focus to the ball on the field.

Binocular Vision – is the ability to maintain visual focus on an object, creating a single visual image with both eyes. Without binocular vision athletes cannot accurately measure distance and depth.

Depth Perception – is the ability to distinguish the distance to, or between, objects. This is important for athletes when they need to hit or interact with moving objects.

Dynamic Visual Acuity – the ability to see a moving object when a player is stationary, or when the object is still and the athlete is in motion. It’s the eyes’ ability to visually discern detail in a moving object, such as a player’s number on a jersey.

Peripheral Vision – is the ability to see objects and movement outside of your direct line of vision. This is important for athletes, especially when they need to run down a field and be able to see other players coming at them from all directions.

Saccades – quick, rapid, simultaneous eye movements between two or more stationary objects in the same direction. For athletes it’s important to be able to see stationary objects, such as a hoop at the end of the court.

Smooth Pursuits – reflexive eye movements that are required when tracking an object through an environment, such as a flying ball. Instead of the eye moving in jumps, it moves smoothly.

Sports Vision Training

Sports vision training can improve all the visual skills an athlete needs to succeed at their game. Even if an athlete has ‘20/20 eyesight’ they may still have reduced binocular vision, and sports vision can help improve any lagging visual skills. Sports vision is an individualized training program that focus on improving visual skills so that athletes can improve their performance.

The ability to enhance an athlete’s sports vision skills is a proven way to improve performance. To learn more about how sports vision training can help you reach your goals, contact us at The Sports Vision Center at Advanced Eye Care today.

The Sports Vision Center at Advanced Eye Care serves patients from South Charleston, Davis Creek, Hillsdale, and Institute, all throughout West Virginia.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rebecca St. Jean

 

Q: What is sports vision training?

  • A: Sports vision training is a customized program that improves the communication between your brain, eyes, and body. It helps athletes process information more accurately and react faster to what they see on the field.

Q: Why is sports vision training important?

  • A: Athletes in visually demanding sports need to have exceptional visual skills. This is true for all sports, where the ability to focus, react quickly, and move fast can mean the difference not only between winning and losing, but between incurring an injury and staying safe.


4 Common Myopia Myths Debunked

4 Common Myopia Myths Debunked 640Myopia (nearsightedness) occurs when the eye elongates and rays of light entering the eye are focused in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it.

It’s by far the most common refractive error among children and young adults.

To help understand and learn more about what myopia means for your child’s vision, we’ve debunked 4 common myopia myths.

Myth: Myopia only develops in childhood

Fact: While it’s true that in most cases nearsightedness develops in childhood, it can also develop during one’s young adult years.

Myth: Wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses cause myopia to worsen

Fact: Prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses in no way exacerbate myopia. Optical corrections help you see comfortably and clearly. Another common misconception is that it’s better to use a weaker lens power than the one prescribed by your eye doctor. This is simply not true. By wearing a weaker lens you are contradicting the purpose of using corrective eyewear, which is to comfortably correct your vision.

Myth: Taking vitamins can cure myopia

Fact: Vitamins have been proven to slow the progression of or prevent some eye conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or cataracts. However, no vitamin has been shown to prevent or cure myopia. All vitamins and supplements should only be taken under the advice of your healthcare professional.

Myth: There is no way to slow the progression of myopia.

Fact: There are a few ways to slow down the progression of myopia:

Get more sunlight. Studies have shown that children who spend more time playing outdoors in the sunlight have slower myopia progression than children who are homebodies.

Take a break. Doing close work, such as spending an excessive amount of time looking at a digital screen, reading, and doing homework has been linked to myopia. Encouraging your child to take frequent breaks to focus on objects farther away can help. One well-known eye exercise is the 20-20-20 rule, where you take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.

Other options to slow myopia progression include:

  • Orthokeratology/Ortho-k. These are specialized custom-fit contact lenses shown to decrease the rate of myopia progression through the gentle reshaping of the cornea when worn overnight.
  • Multifocal lenses offer clear vision at various focal distances. Studies show that wearing multifocal soft contact lenses or multifocal eyeglasses during the day can limit the progression of myopia compared to conventional single vision glasses or contact lenses.
  • Atropine drops. 1.0% atropine eye drops applied daily in one eye over a period of 2 years has shown to significantly reduce the progression of myopia

Prevent or slow the progression of your child’s myopia with myopia management. Contact The Myopia Control Center at Advanced Eye Care to book your child’s consultation today!

The Myopia Control Center at Advanced Eye Care serves patients from South Charleston, Davis Creek, Hillsdale, and Institute, all throughout West Virginia.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Rebecca St. Jean

Q: Can myopia be cured?

  • A: Currently, there is no cure for myopia. However, various myopia management methods can slow its progression.

Q: How much time should my child spend outdoors to reduce the risk of myopia?

  • A: Make sure your child spends at least 90 minutes a day outdoors.


The Myopia Control Center at Advanced Eye Care serves patients from South Charleston, Davis Creek, Hillsdale, and Institute, all throughout West Virginia.

 

Common Visual Symptoms to Watch for in Children

kid playing outside 640People often believe that if a child has 20/20 vision, they have perfect eyesight. This isn’t always the case. Having 20/20 eyesight refers to the ability to see clearly from 20 feet away. This doesn’t guarantee that a child has the visual skills needed to read properly, pay attention in class, writing, and other tasks required for academic success.

It may surprise you that many students who show signs of a learning difficulty actually have a vision problem. According to the National PTA, approximately 10 million school-age children suffer from vision problems that make it more difficult for them to learn in a classroom setting.

If your child is struggling in school, Rebecca St. Jean, O.D. and Elicia Miller, O.D. can determine whether the problem is related to their vision and provide a vision therapy program to help them succeed.

Vision Screenings vs Comprehensive Eye Exam

While school vision screenings might detect significant lazy eye or myopia, they miss many other vision problems, such as issues with focusing, depth perception, or eye tracking.

A comprehensive eye exam, on the other hand, checks for farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, eye focusing abilities, eye tracking, eye focusing, visual skills, binocular eye coordination, and visual processing.

What Signs Should Parents and Teachers Look For?

Below is a list of signs and symptoms indicating that a child may be experiencing vision difficulties:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Complains of frequent headaches
  • Difficulty with comprehension
  • Complains of double or blurry vision
  • Makes errors when copying from the board
  • Reads below grade level
  • Holds reading material close to the face
  • Reverses words or letters while reading or writing
  • Loses place or skips words when reading
  • Confuses or omits small words while reading
  • Rubs eyes
  • Slow to finish written assignments
  • Frequently squints
  • Tilts head or covers one eye
  • Spelling difficulties
  • Uses finger pointing when reading

How Does Vision Therapy Help?

Vision therapy is a personalized treatment program designed to strengthen and improve your child’s visual skills.

Each vision therapy program is customized to your child’s needs and may include specialized lenses, filters, or prisms, alongside personalized eye exercises to help retrain the brain-eye connection and improve your child’s school performance.

If you think a vision problem may be affecting your child’s academic performance, vision therapy may provide them with the necessary visual skills to succeed in school.

Frequently Asked Questions with Our Vision Therapist in South Charleston, West Virginia

Q: How do vision problems impact learning?

  • A: A child’s vision problem can impact all aspects of learning. Often, children with vision problems are told they have a learning difficulty, when in fact, their brain isn’t properly processing what their eyes see. Vision problems can affect a child’s reading skills and comprehension, handwriting, spelling, classroom performance, concentration and attention, and visual skills.

Q: Does my child have a vision problem?

  • A: Discovering a vision problem in children can be difficult, as they may lack the verbal skills to describe what they’re experiencing or may not realize that they have a vision problem.Common indicators that your child may have a vision problem include:
    – Covering one eye
    – Behavioral problems
    – Reading avoidance
    – Difficulties with reading comprehension
    – Frequent blinking
    – Excessive fidgeting
    – Limited attention span
    – Reading below school grade level
    – Tilting head to one side



If your child displays any of these signs, make sure you set up a visit to an eye doctor at The Vision Therapy Center at Advanced Eye Care to evaluate their visual skills and find out whether your child could benefit from vision therapy.

The Vision Therapy Center at Advanced Eye Care serves patients from South Charleston, Davis Creek, Hillsdale, and Institute, all throughout West Virginia.

Request An Appointment
Call Us 304-244-2443

Should My Child See An Occupational Therapist Or A Vision Therapist?

vision therapy 640Parents of a child struggling to keep up at school will do almost anything to get their child the help they need. But parents don’t always know what kind of help the child needs, and from whom.

School administrators often recommend that parents bring their children to an occupational therapist (OT) to help cope with behavioral or learning problems, not realizing that the problems may stem from underdeveloped visual skills, which can be improved with a program of vision therapy (VT).

Below, we’ll explain how OT and VT differ, and offer some guidance for parents and educators. For more information or to schedule an appointment for your child, contact The Vision Therapy Center at Advanced Eye Care today.

What’s the Difference Between OT and VT?

The truth is that OT and VT have a notable amount of overlap, but there are a few key differences.

Occupational therapists help people of all ages to gain/regain the ability to perform various daily tasks through the use of sensory-motor exercises and interventions. OT aims to improve gross and fine motor coordination, balance, tactile awareness, bilateral awareness, and hand-eye coordination.

Vision therapists help children and adults with poor visual skills to improve the functioning of the visual system and strengthen the eye-brain connection. Doing so can alleviate many symptoms like headaches, eye strain, dizziness, and even anxiety.

Examples of visual skills are eye teaming, tracking, focusing, depth perception, visual processing, and visual-motor skills.

How does a visual deficit look in a real world situation?

A child (even with 20/20 eyesight) may need to read a sentence several times in order to understand its meaning, or tilt their head to read the whiteboard, or may try to avoid doing any visually demanding activities. Poor performance in school and on the playing field can often be attributed to visual skill deficits.

Which Therapy Is Right For Your Child?

If a child’s visual system is the underlying cause of behavioral or learning problems, then a personalized vision therapy program may be all they need to get back on track.

So, when should you consider vision therapy for your child? The answer is simple.

If your child is struggling in school or while playing sports, have them evaluated by a vision therapist first. If they have any trouble performing visually demanding tasks like homework, reading, spelling, sports, or complain of headaches — bring them to a vision therapist for an evaluation.

The bottom line is this: no other practitioner can offer the same quality and expertise as a doctor of optometry when it comes to healing the visual system.

OT’s sometimes perform visual exercises with children, but only an eye doctor experienced in vision therapy can prescribe therapeutic lenses, prisms, and filters that greatly enhance the healing process.

It’s also important to note that not every optometrist is trained in vision therapy. You’ll want to choose an eye doctor with experience in diagnosing and treating people of all ages with all types of visual dysfunction.

Additionally, even if your child passes the school’s vision screening, they may still have a problem with visual processing and other skills. School vision screenings only test for visual acuity (eyesight) and neglect the other very important visual skills that enable a child to succeed.

Since the visual system is highly integrated with other systems, an interdisciplinary approach is often the most effective. OT and VT don’t always have to be undertaken simultaneously, but some children benefit from this type of holistic approach.

If your child is struggling with learning or behavioral problems, their vision could be an underlying cause or contributing factor. To schedule your child’s functional visual evaluation, contact The Vision Therapy Center at Advanced Eye Care today.

Frequently Asked Questions with Our Vision Therapist

Q: My child is struggling in school. Should I have his/her eyes examined?

  • A: A comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist can often determine if there are visual issues interfering with a child’s ability to perform in school. Many visual symptoms, some obvious, others less so, can contribute to a child’s poor academic achievement. Some of these issues can be alleviated with a good pair of eyeglasses while others may require vision therapy. All the doctors at Eye Vision Associates are trained in the diagnosis of vision related learning problems.

Q: What are some of the learning difficulties a child may encounter if they have vision issues?

  • A: Children may have difficulty reading if their near vision is blurry or the words jump around the page. Older children may have difficulty copying from the board at the front of the class or may struggle with math homework that has multiple questions on the page.

We encourage you to contact The Vision Therapy Center at Advanced Eye Care today for a vision therapy evaluation to assess if their vision is what has held them back in their studies.

The Vision Therapy Center at Advanced Eye Care serves patients from South Charleston, Davis Creek, Hillsdale, and Institute, all throughout West Virginia.


 

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