Most children who receive traditional school vision screenings are evaluated through the Snellen acuity chart. Although this tool provides some basic information about the student’s eyesight, it has limitations. For success in school, children must have other equally important visual skills in addition to their sharpness of sight, or visual acuity (20 / 20). They must be able to coordinate their eye movements as a team and follow a line of print without losing their place. They must be able to maintain clear focus as they read or make quick focusing changes when looking up at the board and back to their desks. Moreover, they must be able to interpret and accurately process what they are seeing. If children have inadequate visual skills in any of these areas, they can experience great difficulty in school, especially reading and math.
Both optometrists and ophthalmologists receive training in the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of eye and vision problems. When seeking an opinion about a sight problem, eye doctors are appropriately trained to provide an evaluation. However, as a prominent pediatric ophthalmologist has noted, many ophthalmologists do not adequately diagnose or treat visual conditions that can be improved through vision therapy.1 Opinions regarding visual development and visual rehabilitation should involve a Doctor of Optometry, a Behavioral Optometrist, who has qualifications and experience in vision therapy.2
Behavioral Optometrists have developed optometric procedures that have proven effective in diagnosing and treating vision related learning problems. The scope, development and implementation of vision therapy treatment of these vision related learning problems is unique to the optometric profession. The identification and treatment of vision problems affecting school performance has been the goal of Behavioral Optometrists for over 70 years.3 Current research indicates that approximately 1 out of 4 children have vision problems that interfere with their ability to read, learn, and stay on task. For these individuals, an evaluation by a Behavioral Optometrist, and possible optometric treatment with lenses and / or vision therapy would help significantly.
- Mazow, ML, France, TD, et al. Acute accommodative and convergence insufficiency. Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society 1989; 81:158-173
- A Second Opinion About Vision Therapy. Optometric Extension Program Foundation, 2001; #B132
- The Effects of Vision on Learning and School Performance; Oregon Optometric Physicians Association Children’s Vision Committee; 2000