MISSISSAUGA VISION THERAPY CENTER
WHAT IS VISION THERAPY?
Vision therapy is a customized program of exercises supported by evidence-based scientific research, with the goal of remediating any visual skills that are not functioning optimally. Therapy involves weekly in-office therapy sessions with adjunct at home exercises. Repetition of the exercises allow the visual system to integrate the proper skills for clear, comfortable vision all day long. Vision therapy works on the principle of neuroplasticity, the idea that with practice the connections between the visual system and the brain can change. We truly "see" with our brain, our brain guides how our eyes move, how they focus, how they track and how information is decoded. The exercises within vision therapy teach the brain how to do those skills in an efficient way and rewires the connections between our eyes and our brain.
Depending on the condition therapy can take weeks or may be months. Therapy works on rewiring the way the brain moves or engages the eyes, so if therapy is done properly regression of the skills acquired is unlikely.
WHAT CAN WE TREAT WITH VISION THERAPY
Vision therapy is recommended for a variety of conditions such as:
Accommodative disorders: Accommodative insufficiency or excess
Binocular vision disorders (such as Convergence Insufficiency)
Strabismus (Exotropia, Esotropia)
Oculomotor Dysfunction (Tracking Disorders)
Visual Processing Disorder
Visual Motor Integration
Post Trauma Vision Syndrome
HOW WE "SEE"
THESE ARE THE VISUAL SKILLS THAT ARE OUR EYES DO EVERY SECOND TO ALLOW US TO "SEE". THESE SKILLS ARE COORDINATED BY THE BRAIN. THE COMMUNICATION BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN OUR EYES AND OUR BRAIN ALLOWS FOR ALL THESE SKILLS TO HAPPEN IN THE BACKGROUND WITHOUT US HAVING TO THINK ABOUT IT.
ACCOMMODATION (EYE FOCUS)
Accommodation is our ability to bring our vision into focus as we look at targets at different distances. This includes making our near vision clear and maintain it clear and in focus for an extended amount of time. The lens inside of our eye must change it's shape to allow for this to happen.
BINOCULARITY (EYE TEAMING)
Eye teaming is the ability to coordinate and point both eyes simultaneously at the same spot in space. This involves crossing and uncrossing our eyes. To do so our brain must coordinate our muscles from both eyes to ensure they are working simultaneously and in a coordinated fashion.
Tracking involves following a moving object, as well as small and quick eye movements between stationary targets (text). These eye movements must be precise to guide the eyes to relay information in the correct sequence to the brain. The brain must use our peripheral vision to guide our eyes to where they need to move to.
VISUAL INFORMATION PROCESSING
Visual information processing encompasses many different skills that allow us to decode visual information. What we see goes through our eyes, then gets relayed to through different centers in the brain where that information is broken down to be dissected and understood.
VISUAL MOTOR INTEGRATION
This skill pertains to our ability to recreate a piece of visual information through writing or drawing. Once visual information has been decoded, it can then be integrated and turned into a motor movement.
Laterality and directionality is our ability to differentiate between left and right. Deficiencies in this skill will cause reversals of letters, trouble remembering right and left, and trouble writing and remember letters and numbers.
HOW CAN I GET ASSESSED FOR VISION THERAPY?
COMPREHENSIVE EYE EXAM
A comprehensive eye exam is a critical first step. Here we check if all of the anatomy of the eye is healthy. In addition we check if a prescription is needed to provide clear vision. We also do screening tests for binocular vision disorders and strabismus.
IN DEPTH BINOCULAR VISION ASSESSMENT
A binocular vision examination is a more in-depth examination of the eye focusing, eye teaming, and eye tracking system. Specialized prescriptions are tested that may include prism, reading prescriptions, or modified patching techniques. This examination allows us to assess if vision therapy may be helpful.
VISUAL INFORMATION PROCESSING, PRIMITIVE REFLEXES, VISUAL MOTOR INTEGRATION ASSESSMENT
Should further testing in the area of visual processing and visual-motor integration be required, we generally do it on a separate day as the testing can be long and tiring. This allows us to better customize our treatment and therapy plan for each individual patient.
REPORT, CUSTOMIZED TREATMENT PLAN AND VISION THERAPY
After all testing is completed a report is sent to the patient and referring doctor. A treatment plan is formulated with the patient and their to ensure all their goals are met. The treatment plan may include a glasses prescription, prism prescription, modified patching, and/or vision therapy.
A comprehensive eye exam can be done with your primary care Optometrist and you can request a referral to our office for vision therapy. If you do not currently have an optometrist please contact us and we can schedule you a comprehensive eye exam with one of our doctors.
VISION & LEARNING
"It is estimated that 80% of children with a learning disability have an undiagnosed vision problem" - Vision Council of America
VISION THERAPY FOR CHILDREN WITH LEARNING-RELATED VISION DISORDERS
For a child who is struggling with school the goal of vision therapy is to rehabilitate any visual skills that are working inefficiently. Our assessments are geared towards addressing the specific concerns that your child has at school with learning and how any deficient visual skills may be attributing to those challenges. Some children may have a learning disability outside of vision that may also be attributing to difficulties with reading, writing and math. Certain learning disabilities can also cause visual deficits. Visual deficits though can mimic the same symptoms of a learning disability and it is important to try decipher which is contributing to your child's learning challenges. Our goal is to rehabilitate any visual deficits and remove vision as a barrier to your child's learning.
THE MYTH OF 20/20
Very often the first question I get asked by parents is "Does my child see 20/20?". The ability to see 20/20 is based on the length of our eyeball and is only a measure of whether our distance vision is clear without glasses, or requires corrective lenses to be clear. Unfortunately having 20/20 vision does not indicate that our visual system is set up to allow us to succeed in school. This means that your child may see 20/20 but can still have significant problems with reading, writing, spelling and learning due to other visual skills being deficient. There are many different visual skills that are required for a successful learning experience. If your child is struggling in school please ensure you get a comprehensive eye exam with a Doctor of Optometry skilled in Binocular Vision Testing. Binocular vision is the ability to team our eyes together, focus them, move them in a coordinated fashion, decode the information they relay to the brain, and allow them to guide a correct and precise motor movement. When one or more of these skills are lacking there can be large impacts on learning, causing significant delays in school. I hope you can now see that seeing 20/20 is not a measure of your child's ability to succeed in school, and a comprehensive eye exam that includes testing for the skills below is necessary to ensure success in school.
5 COMMON SIGNS THAT YOUR CHILD HAS A VISION DISORDER THAT COULD INTERFERE WITH YOUR CHILD'S LEARNING
1. Skipping words or lines, rereading words or lines
2. Reversing "b" and "d", "q" and "p"
3. Taking a long time to complete homework
4. Poor reading comprehension
5. Short attention span while doing homework
HOW DOES AN EYE EXAM DIFFER FROM A BINOCULAR VISION EXAM?
If your child is struggling in school or has been diagnosed with a learning disability we highly recommend that you undergo a detailed binocular vision exam and visual information processing exam. These are very different from a comprehensive eye exam. In a comprehensive eye exam the prescription of the eye is checked and the health of the eye is checked. In a binocular vision examination and visual information processing exam a more detailed examination is done of all the visual skills as they relate to reading, writing and learning. Any deficiencies in these skills may benefit from a modified prescription with prism, a reading prescription, or vision therapy.
THE GOALS OF VISION THERAPY
Vision is the basic building block of learning, and when visual skills are poor or deficient learning becomes very difficult and frustrating for the individual. Therapy allows vision to work efficiently to allow for improved reading skills, writing skills, and overall learning. The goal is to remove vision as a barrier to your child's learning.
VISION THERAPY FOR STRABISMUS & AMBLYOPIA
WHAT IS STRABISMUS?
Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not coordinate to team together for distance or near, causing one eye to turn. The eye can turn towards the nose (esotropia), out towards the ear (exotropia), or can turn up (hypertropia) or down (hypotropia). The turn can be there all the time (constant) or some of the time (intermittent). Strabismus can cause amblyopia, double vision, a head turn, a face turn or a head tilt, and poor depth perception. Vision therapy helps teach the eyes how to coordinate, and work together at all distance so that the eye turn is no longer visible, there is no double vision, and depth perception is developed. In some cases the best course of treatment for strabismus is a combination of vision therapy and surgery, however, in many cases vision therapy can be very successful in providing treatment for the strabismus without the need for surgery. We work with adults and children as patients. At times in our childhood years we are able to compensate for an eye turn on our own, and as we get older our compensation methods decrease and the eye turn becomes visible. There is no age limit with regards to vision therapy for strabismus.
WHAT IS AMBYLOPIA?
Amblyopia is reduced vision, even with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery to correct any prescription. Amblyopia happens during development of vision when a child is young. If an eye turn is present, a high prescription in one eye or both, or a cataract or corneal disease in one or both eyes the vision will not develop in that eye. Vision continues to develop after birth and if one or both eyes is not provided with clear vision, the ability to see 20/20 becomes compromised. Most recent research has indicated that treating amblyopia with modified patching and vision therapy can render better and faster results than patching alone to improve visual acuity. Vision therapy has the benefit of also improve accommodation, eye teaming and tracking in the affected eye(s).
Every individual we see is unique in their needs and in their symptoms. While two individuals may have the same type of eye turn, they may have two different compensation methods and have very different symptoms, or one individual may have no symptoms while the other is very symptomatic. That is why a customized approach in your treatment is essential to ensure that you receive the care that you need. Treatment options for amblyopia include traditional patching, modified patching with bangerter foils or with eye drops, and vision therapy. Treatment options for strabismus include modified prescription glasses, patching, prism, vision therapy and surgery. Our goal is always to review all treatment options with each individual and make a decision together as to what is best for them at that time. In essence our goals is to reduce any symptoms of blurry vision, eye strain, headaches or double vision, and help provide cosmetic alignment. In addition to that through vision therapy our goal is to develop depth perception and remediate any accommodative, tracking and visual information processing deficiencies.
VISION THERAPY FOR CONCUSSIONS
CAN A CONCUSSION CAUSE VISION CAUSES?
Yes. A concussion or a head injury can cause significant changes to how we see and how we use our eyes together. Vision goes beyond seeing 20/20. Our day to day vision encompasses being able to see clearly, being able to actively focus our vision for near work, being able to coordinate and team our two eyes together, being able to track our eyes through space and text, and being able to decode visual information. Most of our "seeing" occurs within the brain, not within the eyeballs. This means that a hit to the head, or a brain injury can cause a shift in the pathways that connect and relay information from the eyes to the brain, and back from the brain to the eyes and to our other senses. When vision is impacted by a concussion or a head injury it is called Post Trauma Vision Syndrome.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF POST TRAUMA VISION SYNDROME?
- Light sensitivity
- Difficulty reading for long periods of time
- Blurry vision or double vision when reading
- Headaches with extended near work
- Difficulty in busy environments (ex. grocery stores or malls)
- Difficulty with balance and walking towards one side
- Double vision
- Difficulty with depth perception
HOW CAN VISION THERAPY HELP?
The goal of vision therapy is to rehabilitate any visual deficiencies that were caused by the head trauma. Often times individuals that have induced visual deficiencies post trauma are quite symptomatic and this may impact their day to day lives. Our goal is to gently get the visual system back to a normal state and get you back to your daily tasks, whether that is back to work, or back to participating in sports, or back to the things you love.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS
If you have been in a motor vehicle accident and have experienced a head injury we highly recommend a binocular vision assessment to address Post Trauma Vision Syndrome. The symptoms of Post Trauma Vision Syndrome can be life altering and can impact every aspect of your life. We are here to work with your team of physiotherapists, chiropractors, neurologists, concussions specialists and health care team to help you reach your full potential post accident. We can bill HCAI for your treatments as needed.
SPORTS RELATED CONCUSSION
If you've experienced a concussion while playing sports and are experiencing ongoing symptoms post-concussion we recommend coming in for a binocular vision assessment. Vision therapy can help to rehabilitate the visual system and allow you to return to your daily tasks, and your sport in a safe and healthy manner.
If you have any questions regarding our therapy program please fill out the form below. Our vision therapist Maxine will reach out by email and is happy to answer any questions you may have.