She was born with strabismus in her right eye, and at age 3 months her pediatric ophthalmologist pronounced that it had spontaneously resolved and would not trouble her further. Gullible parents that we were, and at the time having no reason to doubt the authority of this highly respected professional, we put the matter out of our minds.
Now that I know better, looking back I see all kinds of red flag behaviors that persisted throughout our daughter's development. But first, letís fast forward to first grade reading instruction.
Two years ago my daughter began exhibiting classic near point activity avoidance behaviors. Reading was physically painful for her. She was a game little girl who loved to be read to and she had an enormous vocabulary. But it was torture to get her to attempt to do written or reading homework in her easy beginner reader books. She would put her head down and say "I'm tired" and shut down. It would take her two hours to write three word sentences in her reading log, and this required coaxing, cajoling, warnings, timeouts, etc. to get her to stay on task.
Within the first month of first grade, I had already visited with her two Reading Recovery trained regular classroom teachers wanting to know if my child was dyslexic. They assured me that she was just fine, so delightful, well behaved, verbally bright and articulate; they insisted that there was no dyslexia or any other learning problem whatsoever.
One of her teachers did offer to work with her one on one on an informal basis, and with the extra attention, my child did make some progress in sight word reading, but the avoidance behaviors continued. By the middle of first grade, I realized that she needed testing for Learning Disabilities, but the school insisted that she was just fine, had 20/20 snellen chart vision in the screenings, was healthy, and tried hard. I just had to accept that she was a slow learner. The school refused to test her. At that point, I recalled the earlier diagnosis of congenital strabismus [crossed eye] and, as part of a preparation for a private evaluation, I contacted our family eye doctor and confided my concerns.
Fortunately for my family, this optometrist turned out to be a Vision Therapy certified behavioral optometrist in practice with an ophthalmologist! She literally turned my daughter's life around.
When Vision Therapy was first suggested as a course of intervention for my daughter, I had heard nothing about it. I went back to the school with this new information about my daughter's severe problems with intermittent strabismus, eye teaming, tracking, accommodative focus, and peripheral vision problems. The principal of the school told us it was bunk that had been dismissed as a valid factor in learning problems, and that in her professional opinion my child did not have these problems. Thank God for the Internet and for wonderful sites like Optometrists Network and Idonline.
Through those sites, I found people who had undergone successful Vision Therapy treatment. They gave me first hand reliable information on it; and gave me enough confidence to go ahead and set up the treatment program. Within two weeks of tracking exercises, my child was almost miraculously able to read through an entire Berenstein Bear's Big Honey Hunt book without pausing, looking away, rubbing her eyes, or shutting down. That was the first time in her life she was able to do that!
Please note that while the Vision Therapy corrected her vision problems, she did not learn how to read through Vision Therapy. She had other needs for specific reading instruction. She didn't understand how to break down a word into phonemes, segment, analyze the symbol/sound correlations, and then blend them together to sound out words. She had been reading by memorizing the shapes of entire words. So she still had a great deal of academic work to do. But without Vision Therapy, none of her academic progress would have been possible.
One year after starting Vision Therapy and Phonographix reading instruction, she read and comprehended the novel Watership Down for her second grade independent reading project. Her teachers were right about her gifted vocabulary and oral comprehension, she just needed to learn how to visually process and analyze the written word.
Your site played a crucial role in giving us the courage to go down this road. I want you to know that over at ldonline's parenting bulletin board, I have referred countless parents to children-special-needs.org and to Dr. X for the vital education in visual issues you provide.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Jenny Vecchio, parent
Before Vision Therapy, Bubby had problems riding his bike, catching things, and kicking balls. He liked to read, but preferred to have someone read to him. The pictures he drew were spatially inconsistent. His right eye tended to turn in much of the day [esotropia].
Now Bubby loves riding his bicycle and catches balls pretty easily. About five months into Vision Therapy, he began to take an interest in reading, all the time! We took a vacation and he read four books. His drawings are still a bit abstract, but at least they're proportioned better. His grades have also improved. Bubby can now go through much of the day without his eye turning in, and most of the time if you remind him to use both eyes, the right one will straighten out.
Vision therapy has been an exceptionally positive experience.
Audra, Bubby's parent,
I have seen Jamie's eyes become stronger. I don't notice her right eye turning in as much as it did before she began therapy. Jamie has always been a good student, so I am grateful for that, but I have seen her improve greatly when it comes to playing sports. I think Jamie still has less than normal depth perception, but what she does have now [as a result of the Vision Therapy] is an improvement from where she started. This spring was the first time she was able to consistently hit a softball with a bat. It is very exciting to see these developments and improvements in my daughter. I would, and have, recommended Vision Therapy to many people.
Shelly Woychowski (mother of Jamie Woychoski)
I can do my schoolwork without my eye going out. I no longer see double. I don't lose my place in reading. It is not as hard to see the blackboard.
Jessica L. Marcoux
When I first noticed my son Dylan's right eye was turning in, it was in photographs. It became more noticeable when he was tired. He started having trouble in school learning to read and write. We were referred to Dr. X. Before eye therapy, Dylan did not like wearing his glasses. He had learned to use only the one eye in his daily activities.
After 12 weeks of Vision Therapy with Dr. X, we have seen much improvement. The daily homework and weekly visits stimulated the weaker eye and taught Dylan to use both eyes together. Now he asks to wear his glasses because he knows he needs them. Before he started therapy, his vision was 20/80. After 12 weeks of therapy, his sight improved to 20/40. I am very impressed with the results. I recommend Vision Therapy to others who struggle with vision problems.
Lisa W., Dylan's parent
My daughter, Brianne, now 18 years of age, has been a patient of Dr. X for 13½ years and her dramatic results have convinced our local area optometrist of the merits of Vision Therapy.
To begin with, our daughter was first seen by our local optometrist when she was 4½ years old, when her right eye was moving inward towards her nose at multiple times during the day [intermittent esotropia]. Before meeting with Dr. X, my husband and I took our young daughter to two highly recommended ophthalmologists and we were disappointed with their lack of rapport with our daughter, who became more and more distressed and fearful with their visual screenings. Dr. X spent 45 minutes (as opposed to 20 minutes from the other physicians) with our daughter assessing her visual interplay and then at least 40 more minutes talking to my husband and me about our daughter's problem. His observations about her visual condition were exactly what the other physicians stated, but there was one exception. At the end of Dr. X's examination, our daughter was smiling. She entered a Vision Therapy at that time.
When Brianne was not quite l0 years old, our local optometrist performed an in-depth eye examination. I was waiting outside the examination room when this physician came out to me and emphatically exclaimed that there was absolutely no more evidence of Brianne's eye problem. He told me that after examining her eyes, he looked at Brianne to make sure she was sitting in the chair and not someone else, because he was flabbergasted at the results! He praised Dr. X's work and our dedication to the Vision Therapy homework assignments, which brought these unbelievable results to Brianne.
Brianne has been accepted to five out of six colleges/universities for Engineering. At 18 years of age, Brianne is on her way to the University of Virginia this fall. Her eyes have not failed her!
Bonnie, Brianne's parent
We have seen the following changes in our son as a result of the vision therapy program. He:
Is more physically coordinated; catches balls better; doesn't fall down stairs as much as he used to;
Picks more challenging reading and attempts to read billboards, TV., signs etc., where before he always asked, "What does that say, Mom?"
Has more self-confidence and doesn't feel "stupid" in comparison to his classmates who read very well;
Has stopped saying "I can't read" entirely;
Focuses eyes on tasks and eyes don't wander [strabismus];
Noticed his own eye "shutting off" [suppression] at the beginning of therapy and has gotten it to "turn back on";
We know his eye muscles are being used differently because one or the other felt pain at the beginning until they got exercised to where they should look;
Now, finds his place again in reading almost instantly after looking away (this used to take him a long time);
His father is impressed with his progress.
Mary Ann Brunette, parent,
Aaron started therapy with a weak eye muscle in his right eye, which caused the eye to move inward [strabismus: esotropia]. Through Vision Therapy and the home therapy program, Aaron's eye no longer moves inward and has strengthened.
Aaron has made tremendous improvements in both eyes since the beginning of his therapy [binocular vision]. We have seen his vision improve and the frustration caused by his eye problem greatly diminish. He continues to improve and benefit.
The therapy along with the eye glasses has helped. I don't believe that eye glasses alone would have made all the changes we have seen.
I am very pleased with the support, therapy program and generous, caring therapist Aaron has had over the last three and a half years.
Cindy L. Beitler, Aaron's parent,
Since eye therapy started I have noticed many different improvements. A few are:
Better peripheral vision
My eye stays aligned better [initial diagnosis: strabismus]
I notice more things
When writing on unlined paper I can keep my writing more aligned
When someone points out something in the air, or elsewhere, I can find what they are showing me
Those are just a few changes. Vision Therapy has really helped. The word about vision therapy needs to get out more so more people can know about it. Teaching vision skills in school would cut down on a lot of frustration for children, parents and teachers. Schools should have eye exercises in their curriculum.
Jean R. Fisher and son,
When Jared began Vision Therapy his right eye was barely functioning. The eye was noticeably turned in and didn't work with the left eye. His brain would rather turn off the eye because that was easier to do. Through Vision Therapy, the brain has learned to make the eye work properly. When you look at him now, his eyes look the same and the right eye is straight. Before, you couldn't tell where he was looking.
Jared was struggling with his school work, especially in reading. This in turn affected all his school work. Now he is reading and spelling ahead of the rest of his second grade class. He says he can see with his right eye now and is aware that it wasn't working before. He could not catch a ball before, unless it was a big ball like a basketball. Now he can see smaller balls coming and can react to catch them.
Before Vision Therapy, we could see Jared walking into corners of doors and walls. He couldn't see out of his right eye, so he couldn't see them. He would have bumps on his head and bend his glasses. Now we are not rushing to get his glasses straightened before school. It's so great to see him making such great progress. It's so nice to know that there is help for people who have vision problems.
When I was first prescribed prism in my glasses (for a deviating eye or strabismus), I was told that Vision Therapy was not worth the effort. That was wrong, incorrect and misleading. Vision Therapy and binocular vision (or stereoscopic vision) exercises and therapy have immediate and worthwhile effects. The benefits take three broad forms:
Less eyestrain if you tend to go cross-eyed or have a lazy eye;
Less habitual use of only one primary eye, allowing both eyes to furnish you more information; and
The beauty and wonder of stereoscopic vision thereby giving you increased enjoyment and perception of both your daily environment and of artistic productions.
With such benefits, I can only conclude that my previous eye doctors' comments against pursuing binocular Vision Therapy were false because they were just based upon rumor and not upon experience.
God gave us two eyes for a reason. Two eyes provide stereoscopic vision, depth perception, and a three-dimensional view of the world. Because of habit, some of us are limited to a two-dimensional world. We habitually see the world in two dimensions, as a flat photograph. We look at a landscape as if it were a photograph, as if it were in two dimensional. We tend not to use both eyes, which yield depth perception, three-dimensional viewing, and stereoscopic vision. Instead we habitually rely upon one primary eye. This is similar to being left or right handed. But this habit, relying upon one eye primarily, can be overcome and has none of the naturalness of being left or right handed. Using both eyes is the natural way, and the beautiful way that God intended for us to see.
For over fifteen years I went from Ophthalmologist to Optometrist, and they all discounted binocular Vision Therapy as being too much trouble, too costly, or too frustrating. My impression now is that they never experienced Vision Therapy or binocular exercises for themselves in order to see what the results would be. If they had personal experience, they would realize that Vision Therapy and exercises have immediate and specific results, which begin at once, and only get better.
In this testimonial, I want to warn you against the discouraging remarks of other eye doctors. Try Vision Therapy for yourself. See for yourself. Find out for yourself whether or not Vision Therapy adds to your life. I believe that you will find, as I have, that binocular vision and the result of a three-dimensional world are well worth the effort.
Jerald Udinsky, adult patient
I have noticed that my left eye does not turn out as much as it did previously. I can read for an extended period of time without double vision.
Theresa M. Bellardino
Her eye no longer turns in. Reading has improved (that is, vision during reading). Her eyes appear to be working together much better. We are delighted.
Jennie Grayson's Parents
Ariel sees better and is starting to read. Her eye does not turn in as much as it did.
Wendy Sheridan, Ariel's Mother
Brian's eyes now track in the same direction when he is wearing his glasses.
Brian Glanzberg's Parents
I was a bit doubtful of Vision Therapy until I saw the change myself in Jessica's drifting eye and her schoolwork. Jessica's grades have all gone up at least one grade. She enjoys reading now and doesn't dread it. As a matter of fact, she reads to her little sister all the time
Tracey Marcoux, Jessica's Mother
Lauren doesn't complain as much and she knows how to control her eyes better.
Lauren Bracco's Parents
I can do my schoolwork without my eye going out. I no longer see double. I don't lose my place in reading. It is not as hard to see the blackboard.
Jessica L. Marcoux
When my eyes are fatigued, they don't cross as easily as they used to. No more burning/tearing after computer-intensive work.
Giovanni's right eye doesn't turn in any more. He does not have as many headaches.
Heidi S., Giovanni's Mother
Todd seems to focus both eyes on an object. Cosmetically, his eyes have improved; they are somewhat straighter, but he is not consistent with practicing at home.
For a number of years I was trying to get help with my double vision, which forced me to drive with one eye closed. The only option given by the doctors I consulted was wearing an eye patch while driving or a double eye surgery. Dr. X suggested including prism in the prescription and following up with Visual Therapy. The prescription worked like a charm. No more double vision!
I can't understand why such a simple solution to a mild adult strabismus is not in the repertoire of every eye care provider.
Chris has worn glasses since the age of 11 months. He was far-sighted and had a very pronounced eye turn. His poor vision continued to affect his daily life. He had speech delay issues and his learning was hindered by poor concentration due to eye strain. He was also uncomfortable in play situations because he had difficulty climbing ladders, stairs and maintaining his balance on beams at the playground. He received Vision Therapy and his vision improved greatly. My family has seen unbelievable results. Chris's improvement has affected his whole life. He has greater coordination, which can be seen at the playground. Chris can easily climb ladders and maintain his balance when playing. Chris doesn't tire as easily while doing schoolwork. Chris's Vision Therapy continues to improve his vision and help with Chris's daily activities.
Mom of Chris (age 5)
I just finished watching one of my favorite shows, "The Operation," on the Learning Channel. Tonightís operation was on a 17 year-old, cross-eyed girl. It was her FIFTH eye surgery. After every previous surgery her eyes had eventually reverted back to the crossed position. Watching this program prompted me to jump online and get some strabismus information.
I have strabismus and amblyopia in my left eye. I donít remember it ever being patched or ever having had Vision Therapy.
Iíve worn glasses or contact lenses since I was 11 or 12, which doesnít bother me that much, but my childhood and teenage years were hell because of my lazy eye. I was called "cross-eyed" all the time, and it was especially embarrassing when I worked as a cashier, because I had trouble making eye contact.
I am now 32 and I have never had eye surgery or any kind of therapy for this condition. I am now thinking that Vision Therapy might be worth trying. Thanks very much for providing a place where these topics can be discussed.
Please note: In-office therapy under the direction of a behavioral optometrist using prisms, filters and lenses, as used with our patients, is far more effective than home-based therapy.