Where to start: vision therapy resourcesVISION THERAPY is a whole new world. I have some suggestions for how to navigate this new territory and some reassurance about the potential effectiveness of your new journey.
START BY EDUCATING YOURSELF
If you are a reader (or listener), become familiar with the process by exploring books such as When your Child Struggles, the Myths of 20/20 Vision (What Every Parent Needs to Know) by Dr. David Cook, and Fixing My Gaze, by Susan Barry
In his book When your Child Struggles, Dr. Cook explains seven visual abilities that affect learning. The only one which is tested in a traditional vision screening is the first one: 20/20 acuity. The others include accommodation (focus) ability, eye teaming ability, eye movement ability, visual perception ability, eye-hand coordination ability, and visual imagery ability. There is a chapter on each one detailing its importance to learning. There is a list of ten questions to ask yourself about what you see happening with your child as well as questions in each chapter which are specific to each of the visual abilities. When I asked my daughter the questions, I realized that even though she was not visibly struggling, she had a serious eye teaming issue. You’ll be able to address each potential issue using these helpful questions.
Susan Barry’s book provides the perspective of a neuroscientist going through vision therapy as an older adult and is fascinating reading. It was actually the resource that gave me hope that I could have success in gaining stereopsis (3D vision). She began vision therapy at the age of 48 and I was about that age when I started my vision therapy journey. Her book is also what finally helped me decide to have surgery since it is important to get the eyes in alignment. I wasn’t able to align them on my own, despite years of trying, and the surgery provided that essential component.
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THEN FIND A QUALIFIED DOCTOR
Don’t rely on your pediatrician or regular eye doctor to let you know there’s a problem. They will not typically test for or recognize an issue. You MUST find a qualified Vision Therapy specialist by searching in your area on: https://locate.covd.org/
COVD is the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. The doctors who complete board certification have followed a stringent education program and demonstrated their competence. I trust that the doctors who fulfill these requirements are capable of helping their patients achieve their vision goals.
- If you have more than one option, meet them, ask questions, see how you feel in their office under their care and decide on your plan of action accordingly.
Be sure to check to see if your insurance will cover the therapy, or whether you can use a flex spending account or HSA to cover the cost, since vision therapy can be expensive.
OTHER RESOURCES TO EXPLORE
Computer programs: Your doctor may have you use supplementary computer programs for your home therapy. These are best used with doctor supervision, or at least initial direction from your doctor. The one I used is no longer supported, but there will be other options available. I plan to take a look at some of the new options and review them in future blog posts.
Patient blogs: Several vision therapy patients have shared their experiences in the past few years through blogs and books. Some of them are no longer blogging and have removed their sites, but others are still available. You may enjoy Sue Barry’s blog, eyes on the brain at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/eyes-the-brain. Artist, Lynda Rimke wrote a blog called wide-eyed wonder at https://leavingflatland.wordpress.com/. Her most recent post was January 2017.
A parent shares her child’s vision therapy story at https://theviewfromhere.me/?wref=bif. She blogs from 2013-2014 until her daughter graduated from vision therapy.
Free Computer Games: Squinty Josh provides free vision therapy games that he created at his site: http://squintyjosh.blogspot.com/. My favorite of his games, spelling bee, is found here http://www.squintyjosh.com/spellingbee/. I used this game quite a bit, especially when I was on hiatus from in-office therapy as a way of keeping myself somewhat attached to the process. He blogged from 2011-2015.
The Blog that became a book: I like having the perspective of other patients to draw upon. It can also be hard to read when they are struggling right along with me. One that I actually commented on was Susana Zaraysky’s blog which is entitled one-eyed princess.
Susana wrote a book about her experiences, also called One-Eyed Princess: Gaining depth in sight and mind. She contacted me when she was writing the book to ask for permission to include my comments anonymously. I was happy to oblige In fact, I would have been fine with her including my name. It’s available on Amazon for $15 for the print version or $5 in Kindle format. She gives lots of advice on how to support someone going through vision therapy, tips for patients and includes other helpful resources as well.
Still my favorites: I also really like the vision therapy story shared by Robin and Jillian Benoit in Jillian’s Story: how vision therapy changed my daughter’s life. Jillian followed up with stories which her readers shared with her in the follow-up book Dear Jillian: Vision Therapy Changed my Life too. (More information about these and other books are included in my previous post about vision therapy resources from April 2013.)
These resources are just a start. There are also many websites available from various vision therapy doctors, which I will detail in a separate post. When you google vision therapy, those are likely the ones which will come up. Vision Therapy results are unpredictable. It may be that you respond right away and finish in the “normal” amount of time for your condition, or it may take much longer. It may even require surgery, like in my case, but it’s worth the effort!