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  • How Vision Therapy Helps Patients With Eyesight and Comprehension

    How Vision Therapy Helps Patients With Eyesight and Comprehension

    Vision therapy is used to help people improve reading skills. It involves individual treatment to train a person's eyes to respond better to certain cues. When the eyes are more efficient, visual acuity and performance are improved. With improved vision, people can read more easily without getting tired and experiencing eye strain. They also have less difficulty processing what they are reading.

    Detecting Problems

    Those with visual and cognitive dysfunction are often unaware of their disabilities or their ability to improve uncomfortable symptoms. For example, they may simply avoid reading, working on a computer or writing because it is an unpleasant activity. Once the problem is discovered and diagnosed by an optometrist, the individual can receive treatment and therapy. These problems may be diagnosed through a routine eye exam or through school programs designed to detect students with reading disabilities or visual processing difficulties.

    Improving  Visual Functions

    When people have problems with their eyesight or mental processing functions, they may have difficulty reading the page of a book or understanding what is on a computer screen. With therapy, improved visual skills can reduce eye strain and headaches, as well as improve concentration and comprehension. Once the eyes are trained through therapy to work at the optimal visual angle, it will eventually become a habit.

    Vision Board

    When learning how to improve visual skills, some vision therapy patients use slant boards to help them overcome problems and improve reading skills. A specially designed vision board sits at a 22-degree angle for the most effective reading position. It features collapsible legs or a wedge-shaped lap pillow to help the patient find the correct angle for reading


    Optometric vision therapy is used to treat disorders and dysfunctions of the eyes and brain. While these problems may stem from birth, chronic disease or injury, the use of corrective lenses and visual training helps children and adults alike to improve reading and comprehension skills. Therapy can help patients with problems such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness and double vision, among others. When these problems are diagnosed and treated, the patient's experiences will improve reading and comprehension significantly. When these problems remain undiagnosed and untreated, the difficulties experienced can become worse.

    There are many causes and symptoms involved with visual problems and reading comprehension. While some of them are a result of natural occurrences and chronic disease, they can also be the result of injuries due to accidents or surgery. When these symptoms and difficulties are diagnosed and treated, the patient can learn to improve eyesight and comprehension for a higher quality of life.

  • What is Vision Training?

    Optometric visual training or vision therapy, is the part of optometric care devoted to developing, improving and enhancing people's visual performance.

    Over several decades, behavioral optometrists have developed and used visual training in combination with appropriate, judiciously selected lenses to:

    • Prevent vision and eye problems from developing
    • Develop the visual skills needed to achieve more effectively at school, work or play
    • Enhance functioning on tasks demanding sustained visual effort
    • Re-mediate or compensate for vision and eye problems which have already developed

    Through visual training, people are able to develop more efficient visual performance.

    Vision: A Set of Abilities

    Nearly all humans are born with the potential for good eyesight, but vision‐‐the ability to identify, interpret and understand what is seen ‐‐is learned and developed, starting from birth.

    In learning to walk, a child begins by creeping, crawling, standing, walking with assistance, and finally, walking unaided. A similar process from gross to fine motor control takes place in the development of vision.

    One visual skill builds on another, step‐by‐step as we grow. But many people miss a step, or do not complete a step, or must begin to perform school or other visually demanding tasks before an acceptable foundation of basic visual skills is in place.

    Science indicates that we do not “see” with our eyes or our brain; rather, vision is the reception and processing of visual information by the total person. Since two‐thirds of all information we receive is visual, it becomes clear that efficient visual  skills are a critical part of learning, working and even recreation. Athletes, for example performance in their sport.

    Developing visual skills includes learning to use both eyes together effectively. Having both eyes move, align, fixate and focus as a team enhances your ability to interpret and understand the potential visual information that is available to you.

    Intelligent persons who are very highly motivated can be good achievers, even with very poor visual skills and abilities, but at untold cost iii wasted energy and unnecessary effort and stress. For those who are less motivated, even one or two deficient visual skills can produce enough stress and frustration to create a non‐achiever.

    What Are the Visual Skills?

    Visual Skills

    The visual skills, which can be developed and enhanced through visual training, include:

    Tracking. The ability to follow a moving objects smoothly and accurately with both eyes, such as a ball in flight or moving vehicles in traffic.

    Fixation. The ability to quickly and accurately locate and inspect with both eyes a series of stationary objects, one after another, such as moving from word to word while reading.

    Focus Change. The ability to look quickly from hr to near and vice versa without momentary blur, such as looking from the chalkboard to a book or from the dashboard to cars on the street.

    Depth Perception. The ability to judge relative distances of objects and to see and move accurately in three‐dimensional space, such as when hitting a ball or parking a car.

    Peripheral Vision. The ability to monitor and interpret what is happening around you while you are attending to a specific central visual task; the ability to use visual information perceived from over a large area.

    Binocularity. The ability to use both eyes together, smoothly equally, simultaneously and accurately.

    Maintaining Attention. The ability to keep doing any particular skill or activity with ease and without interfering with the performance of other skills.

    Near Vision Acuity. The ability to clearly see, inspect, identify and understand objects at near distances, within arm’ length.

    Distance Acuity. The ability to clearly see inspects, identify and understand objects at a distance. People with 20/20 distance sight still may have visual problems.

    Visualization. The ability to form mental images in your “mind's eye," retain or store them for future recall, or for synthesis into new mental images beyond your current or past direct experiences.

    Visual Skills/Visual Stress

    If a person's visual skills are not adequately developed, or a person fails to coordinate vision with other senses, vision problems may occur. With poor binocularity, for example, one eye may locate an object in one place while the other eye locates it in another. The confusing signals may result in:

    Headaches: Especially near the eyes or forehead, or occasionally at the back of the head.

    Double Vision: Two objects are seen when only one exists.

    Reduced Performance: Losing your place while reading, rereading words or lines, difficulty with Understanding or recalling what you've read, reading slowly.

    Discomfort/Fatigue:  Body tension, stress or pain; weariness at the end of a school or workday.

    Suppression:  Information from one eye may be blocked or ignored to avoid seeing double. If the visual problem is not corrected, it may get worse.

    Near point visual stress, the result of sustained visual activities done at less than arm's length, may produce most of the problems listed above.

    There are many other common eye and visual problems, which can limit the way you live and enjoy life. These include:

    Nearsightedness. Myopia‐seeing more easily at near than at distances.

    Farsightedness. Hyperopia a‐seeing more easily at distances than at near.

    Strabismus. Crossed eyes.

    Amblyopia. Lowered visual acuity (clarity), not correctable to normal acuity with lenses.

    Astigmatism. Distorted vision‐interferes with seeing clearly at any distance without effort.

    Poor Vision‐Body Movement Coordination. Clumsiness, awkwardness, inefficient eye‐hand or eye‐ body coordination, poor handwriting.

    Visual training, usually combined with appropriate lenses, may remedy, improve or prevent any of these conditions in both children and adults. Visual training and lenses are intended to alleviate the symptoms and eliminate the underlying cause inadequate visual skills and visual stress.

    Studies show that success in visual training depends on an appropriate program prescribed by your optometrist, and on an individual patient's cooperation, participation and motivation.

    Beyond Visual Performance

    Visual training also has proven to be a remarkably effective tool in helping' people with learning‐related visual problems. Many problems in learning to read and write are made worse by poorly developed visual skills.

    Dozens of experimental programs involving thousands of children and adults demonstrate that when visual skills are enhanced through visual training, learning is easier, reading levels rise, and in some cases, IQ scores have increased.

    Building visual skills also increases the ability to visualize, conceptualize and to create. Dr. Johan Pestalozzi, a Swiss educated reformer, notes that “conceptual thinking is built on visual understanding “ visual understandings the basis of all knowledge.

    Vision Training

    What is a Behavioral Optometrist?

    Behavioral optometrists spend years in post‐graduate, continuing education to master the complex visual programs prescribed to prevent or eliminate visual problems and enhance visual performance.

    Not all optometrists practice behavioral optometry, which includes developmental and functional optometry. If you do not now have an optometrist who practices behavioral optometry, call or write the OEP Foundation. Or, make sure you receive a yes answer to each of the following questions before you make an appointment:

    • Do you make a full series of near point vision tests?
    • Do you make work‐ or school‐related visual perception tests?
    • Do you provide full vision care and visual training in your office, or will you refer me to a colleague if needed?
    • Will you see me again during the year, and periodically to determine my progress?

    Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Inc.

    1921 E. Carnegie Ave., Ste. 3‐L

    Santa Ana, CA 92705‐5510

    (949) 250‐8070

    Pamphlet Copyright © 1995, OEP Foundation, Inc. ‐ A nonprofit foundation for education and research in Vision

    Permission to reprint the contents of this brochure granted to VISUAL EDGE, INC. ® ‐ 05/01/09 by: the Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Inc.


    Optometric vision therapy is an individualized treatment program designed to improve visual function and performance. It is an approved treatment modality for disorders including, but not limited to:

    • Ocular motility dysfunction/eye movement disorders
    • Vergence dysfunction/inefficiency in using both eyes together
    • Strabismus/misalignment of the eyes
    • Amblyopia/lazy eye
    • Accommodative disorders/focusing problems
    • Visual information processing disorders
    • Visual sensory and motor integration

    Visual rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury or stroke all of which result in inefficient visual information processing.

    Most people who visit an optometrist know that any eye health problems will be detected and managed and that glasses or contact lenses will be prescribed if indicated. That picture is incomplete because there are visual conditions that are best managed by optometric vision therapy. This therapy enables an individual to learn more efficient ways to perform visually. It is an art and science of vision care that complements the prescription of eyeglasses, contact lenses and the treatment of eye disease.

    Optometric vision therapy, also referred to as visual training or orthoptics (CPT 92065), is an established, medically necessary therapy when prescribed by an optometrist. Optometric vision therapy can improve visual function much like physical therapy can improve general motor function. An optometrist to determine the presence of visual deficiencies administers clinical tests with associated normative values. If optometric vision therapy is indicated, the optometrist recommends a specific treatment plan.

    Optometric vision therapy typically invokes a programmed combination of office treatment and home therapy. Lenses, prisms, optical devices, and specially adapted computers are some of the devices through which one learns to use vision more effectively. The specific materials are less important than the feedback provided to the patient to enable change. Visual skills need to be developed until they become automatic and are subconsciously integrated with the other skills. The extent of success is also linked to patient compliance.

    The benefits of optometric vision therapy, which include improved visual information processing and the ability to sustain visual function over time, are as applicable to the child in the classroom as they are to the adult using a computer or reading a book. Without efficient visual skills the act of reading can be frustrating. Some of the common symptoms relieved through vision therapy include eyestrain, visually induced headaches, inability to concentrate when doing visual tasks, and errors such as loss of place or reversals. More often, individuals have no recognized symptoms due to their avoidance of visually demanding tasks or an adaptation that decreases their performance. Optometric vision therapy also facilitates appropriate visual development, and serves as a component of the multi‐disciplinary effort following stroke or head injury.

    Members of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) have post‐graduate education in the diagnosis and management of conditions for which optometric vision therapy is an appropriate treatment. Fellows of the College are certified in providing this vision care. For further information, contact COVD or consult with your COVD optometrist.

    Dedicated to the Enhancement of Vision

    Permission to reprint the contents of this C.O.V.D. White Paper granted to VISUAL EDGE, INC. ® ‐ 05/01/09 by:

    College of Optometrists in Vision Development

    243 N. Lindbergh Blvd. Ste 310

    St. Louis, MO 63141‐7851

    (314) 991‐4007 1‐888‐COVD770

    FAX (314) 991‐1167

  • How Does Lighting Affect Learning?

    According to a 1999 University of Georgia study on academic achievement in children,
    lighting was shown to be a major factor in the brain's ability to focus. Students that
    lighting affects learingattended class in brightly lit rooms received higher grades than students in dim rooms.
    The study reports that poor lighting does not cause damage to eyes, but can reduce how
    effectively the brain collects information. If the pattern of learning in poor lighting
    continues over time, the brain can become slower at absorbing new information.

    Visual Clarity
    Dim lighting can negatively affect learning by making it more difficult to clearly see
    words when reading new information. The University of Georgia study reported that poor
    lighting affects a student's ability to read accurately on a paper or chalkboard. This can
    cause wrong information to enter the brain or affect new information being stored.

    Lighting is also a factor in psychological health when a person is in one room for the
    majority of the day. According to the University of Georgia study, bright light has been
    used as a depression treatment; conversely, spending a significant amount of time in a
    dimly lit room can negatively alter mood. A person suffering from depression has
    difficulty concentrating or completing tasks. If a person's learning environment is dimly
    lit and ends up affecting his psychological well-being, the ability to learn will be
    negatively affected.

    Off Task Behavior
    A 1995 study that Dr. Ellen Mannel Grangaard presented at the Association for
    Childhood Education International Study Conference and Exhibition found that
    fluorescent light contributed to off task behavior, such as daydreaming, playing with
    objects instead of listening, and talking to others during a lesson. Students whose learning
    environment had a softer, more natural lighting had an easier time staying on task and not
    becoming distracted. The University of Georgia study supports Dr. Grangaard's findings.
    It found that fluorescent lights can make hyperactivity behavior more severe and prevent
    learning at the fullest extent.

    Best Lighting
    Both studies were in agreement that the best lighting type for maximum productivity and
    learning is as natural and soft as possible, while still being bright enough to see clearly.
    Lighting that is too dim can cause difficulties in learning, like affecting brain focus and
    visual clarity when reading. It also can lower psychological well-being over time.
    Conversely, lighting that is overly bright and fluorescent was shown to contribute to off
    task behavior and making hyperactive behavior worse.

    By Allison Boelcke

  • Benefits of a Reading Slant Board


    Over the past few articles, we've discussed the various ways in which you can improve your reading, care for your vision and even enhance the learning experience all by how you practice proper reading or working ergonomics.  There is a distinct relationship between how you view your work space and how it affects you physically and mentally.  In continuing with providing you with valuable information on how to care for your vision and practice positive study, reading or work habits, here are the many benefits that our reading slant board provides.

    Ergonomic Attributes


    Ergonomics is defined in the dictionary as "(used with a sing. verb) The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort." The design of our reading slant board took all the aspects of ergonomics into the equation in order to produce a work surface that could:

    • -Improve Posture
    • -Reduce the Heart Rate
    • -Lower Blood Pressure
    • -Allow for Better Tracking
    • -Enhance Comprehension
    • -Reduce Eye Fatigue
    • -Increase Quality of Penmanship
    • -Reduce Wrist Cramping

    in addition to proper ergonomics, the Visual Edge Slant Board also provides a Versatile Work Station. The science behind the 22 degree angle makes it ideal to hold almost any size book.  Architects and Calligraphers continue to work upon slanted surfaces, so we found that this angle not only optimizes your writing, but also your reading.  Fundamental features added to the slant board include:

    • -A paperclip to hold documents securely.
    • -A removable Velcro book catch, which can be stored at the top of the board to allow for an obstruction free writing surface.
    • -A dry erase surface to save paper and allow for notes, solving math problems or practicing spelling.
    • -The magnetic surface allows for the ability to use magnets as learning games, puzzles or holding notes to the board.
    • -The slant of the surface not only works for books or paper but laptops as well.


    The health, learning and vision benefits in which the Visual Edge Slant Board provides are immense and our prime purpose for creating this website and this product is to spread valuable information that will help others become aware of these things.

    All to often children with learning disabilities struggle with self esteem and keeping up with their course material and proper studying habits along with an ergonomically structured work space can help increase the comprehension and learning ability.

    Please take the time to browse our resource library and other articles to learn more about how our reading slant board has helped others through vision therapy, learning comprehension and more.

  • Have You Heard This Before?


    An eight year old child passed the 20/20 eye chart test with flying colors, yet she saw letters move around on the page, words and letters disappear, and print go in and out of focus. When asked if she had ever told her parents or teacher that this was happening, her replied was, "No, I thought books did that to everyone."

    Children with learning related vision problems rarely report symptoms. They think everyone sees the same as they do. The fact is 1 in 4 people, adults and children, have a vision processing problem.

    blurry text reading symptoms

    Up to four children in every classroom see print this way! They can’t control their eye movements at close distances, making reading and attention almost impossible. As the print moves and blurs, they stumble over words, lose their place and can't comprehend the text they are trying to read.  Out of desperation, giving up and quitting is a frequent outcome. With reading and vision problems, school can be a struggle to children, and for parents who may not recognize these symptoms.

    It is estimated 10 million children 10 and younger have a vision problem. 80% of what a child learns during the first 12 years is obtained through vision. Children with a vision problem are typically associated with developmental delays and the need for special educational, vocational and social services.

    Vision is more than 20/20 eyesight. It is a complex process involving over 20 visual abilities and more than 65% of all of the pathways to the brain. Nearly 80% of what a child perceives, comprehends and remembers depends on the efficiency of the visual system.

    A child can't learn to read when the words get jumbled up on the page and he/she can't remember or make sense of what was just read.

    Every person adult and children should receive a comprehensive eye exam that are struggling or have struggled with reading. Please refer to College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) or Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Inc. (OEP Foundation) for a referral to a trained Developmental Vision specialist.

    College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD)
    215 West Garfield Road, Suite 200
    Aurora, OH 44202
    (330) 995-0718, (888) 995-0719, FAX (330) 995-0719

    Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Inc. (OEP)
    1921 E. Carnegie Ave., Ste. 3-L
    Santa Ana, CA 92705-5510
    (949) 250-8070

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