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OPTOMETRIC VISION THERAPY

Visual Development

Infants (Birth to 24 Months): It is very exciting for parents, the first time their newborn daughter or son opens their eyes and makes eye contact.   However, vision takes some time to develop.   In the first week of life, your baby’s vision is quite blurry and sees only in shades of gray. It takes several months for your baby’s vision to fully develop. Babies are not born with all the visual skills they need in life.  The newborn navigates their world through exploration with movement and touch, which guides the development of vision.  Each new developmental stage is built up upon the experiences from the previous one.   Their eyes provide information and stimulate the brain to use that visual information. Eventually, vision takes lead and coordinates and guides movement, touch and learning.  Healthy eyes and good vision are critical to how infants and children learn to see.  The development of good visual skills is closely intertwined with the development of good gross and fine motor movements.  Vision problems can cause developmental delays.   Signs that may indicate a visual problem:

Excessive Tearing

Red or Encrusted Eye Lids

Constant Eye Turning

Appearance of a White Pupil

Refer to a pediatric ophthalmologist immediately

Extreme Sensitivity to Light


Preschool Children (2-5 Years Old): Children from ages 2-5, are now fine tuning visual skills learned during infancy and developing new skills preparing them to learn.  Amblyopia, strabismus and visually related learning disabilities begin to develop at this age.  According to the American Public Health Association, about 10% of preschoolers have eye or vision problems. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to academic success.   Signs that may indicate a visual problem:

Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close

Squinting

Tilting their head

Frequently rubbing their eyes

Short attention span for the child's age

Turning of an eye in or out

Sensitivity to light

Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding

Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles and other detailed activities


School Aged Children (6-18 Years Old): Most children have no idea how they are supposed to see.  Therefore it is important that you know the signs that a vision problem is interfering with your child’s ability to read and learn. 

Do you know your vision facts?  

1 out of 4 children struggle with reading and learning because of undiagnosed vision problems.

It is estimated that over 60% of problem learners have undiagnosed vision problems.

80% of learning in the classroom is visual.

The majority of the vision problems that interfere with reading and learning are very treatable. 

Seeing clearly (“20/20”) is just one of 17 visual skills critical to academic success.


According to the American Federation of Teachers vision plays an important role in our children’s education and that: “Even the most gifted students will struggle academically if they have trouble seeing the board or focusing on a book. A tremendous amount of learning happens visually, so proper vision care is crucial to helping students reach their full potential.” Vision screenings in school and at the pediatrician's office usually only test distance vision.  Most people think that 20/20 is "perfect vision", when in fact 20/20 is simply a measurement of what someone is able to see at a distance of 20 feet.  Most of our learning is through reading, which is not at 20 feet at all! There are 17 visual skills required for reading and learning, including the ability to point the eyes together at the right spot, to focus the eyes, to move across the page properly.  These skills are often not tested in most vision screenings.  Passing a vision screening, which tests only distance vision, leads parents to believe incorrectly that vision is fine.  The routine eye exam from an eye doctor’s office is designed to test how healthy your eyes are and to see if you need glasses or contact lenses.  This exam is not designed to test ALL of the 17 visual skills required for academic success. If any of these visual skills are not working properly, it can make reading and learning an unnecessary challenge.  Some children develop behavior problems, while others avoid reading or simply refuse to read.  Usually the child is bright, causing parents to be confused by the child's difficulties.  Often the child is labeled hyperactive, lazy, or slow.  What makes this even worse is that many of these problems can easily be mistaken as learning disabilities or attention problems such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  Optometric Vision Therapy can help.