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  • 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

  • What is Behavioral Optometry?

    How does your visual performance shape up against the demands placed on your visual system?

    • At work?
    • At home?
    • At school?
    • At play?

    You may not be aware of it, but your visual system brings you much information about your world. When you look at something, you don't just "see" with your eyes; you inspect, discriminate, identify and interpret ‐ all as a part of your visual system.

    Behavioral optometry is an expanded area of optometric practice. When you visit your behavioral optometrist, you may notice a difference in your examination. You will find that you are tested for specific visual skills. You may find that many of your questions about vision are answered. And you will receive the clinical guidance you need to develop the skills that provide for an efficient visual system.

    Why Behavioral Optometry?

    Our ancestors had hunter's eyes for survival in the wilderness; their vision was designed for spotting game and enemies at a distance.

    In the last 100 years we have been forced to deal with sustained, near visual tasks and the resulting stress on the visual system has produced many symptoms and problems.

    If you experience headaches, blurred vision, tired, itchy or watery eyes or other vision linked problems, you may already know how uncomfortable sustained visual stress can feel. Your discomfort may be related to the heavy vision load of working at near distances.

    If you are a student, you may read almost three times the number of textbooks your grandparents did. If you are employed in an office, you probably use your visual system for hours of close‐up work. If you work with computers, you may

    spend much of your day looking at a computer screen. These tasks can all contribute to visual stress.

    Even if you have "20/20 eyesight," you may have difficulty working at close tasks. The term "20/20" means you can see well at distances of 20 feet or more, it does not usually refer to how well you see at 12‐16 inches, the distance at which you do most of your close work.

    There is a solution.

    Your behavioral optometrist has studied the effects of stress on vision. Through the use of carefully selected stress‐relieving and preventive lenses and visual training, you can enjoy relief from even the most stressful close‐up visual conditions.

    More About Behavioral Optometrists

    • Your behavioral optometrist takes a holistic approach to vision care. You are treated as a whole person and your visual problem as a part of the whole system. Your behavioral optometrist works with you and your children, rather than doing something to you.
    • You and your children will receive help in developing the important visual skills you may need to reach academic and professional goals.
    • Even the visual achievement of successful learners and earners can be enhanced through behavioral optometric care.

    Who Needs a Behavioral Optometrist?

    Behavioral vision care is useful to virtually all patients. However, the following individuals will especially benefit:

    • Children of all ages, but especially children just starting school.
    • Children who are having trouble with reading or learning.
    • Children who seem to be uncoordinated in visually demanding sports.
    • Children who are considered "behavior problems"
    • Children who are reading "below their potential."
    • Anyone who participates in athletics and wants improved performance.
    • Anyone who works at a computer.
    • Anyone who has a visually demanding job.
    • Anyone who suffers from burning, itchy eyes, eyestrain or visual fatigue (with no medical eye problem).

    See your family optometrist annually.

    More Good News... If your behavioral optometrist prescribes visual training (also called vision therapy) for you, and even if your medical insurance does not cover eyeglass prescriptions, your major medical may cover visual training.

    Visual training often falls under the category of physical therapy. It usually involves a series of visits during which you perform specific activities to remediate your vision problem under the close supervision of a professional.

    The office staff can help you determine if your policy covers visual training and with their help, you can submit the proper claim and receive entitled benefits.

    What Is a Behavioral Optometrist?

    Behavioral optometrists spend years in post‐doctoral education to master the complex visual programs prescribed to prevent or to normalize ‐visual problems and enhance visual performance. Behavioral optometry is an umbrella term that also includes developmental and functional optometric practices. Not all optometrists practice behavioral optometry. To find one who does, call or write Optometric Extension Program Foundation Vision Extension. If you do not now visit a behavioral optometrist, call or write the OEP Foundation for a referral list in your area.

    Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Inc.

    1921 E. Carnegie Ave., Ste. 3‐L

    Santa Ana, CA 92705‐5510

    (949) 250‐8070

    Pamphlet Copyright © 1984, 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.

  • Symptoms of Reading Problems

    The following symptoms may indicate that YOU or your CHILD has reading problems along with writing difficulties.

    reading problem

    Physical Cues of Reading Problems

    ¨      Red, sore, or itching eyes

    ¨      Jerky eye movements, one eye turns in or out

    ¨      Squinting, eye rubbing, or excessive blinking

    ¨      Blurred or double vision

    ¨      Headaches, dizziness, or nausea after reading

    ¨      Head tilting, closing or blocking one eye when reading

    ¨      History of recurrent ear infections


    ¨      Avoidance of near work

    ¨      Frequent loss of place

    ¨      Omits, inserts, or rereads letters/words

    ¨      Confuses similar looking words

    ¨      Failure to recognize the same word in the next sentence

    ¨      Difficulty identifying sounds in words and recognizing rhyming words (phonological awareness skills)


    ¨      Smart in everything but school

    ¨      Low self-esteem, poor self image

    ¨      Temper flare-ups, aggressiveness

    ¨      Frequent crying

    ¨      Short attention span

    ¨      Irritability

    ¨      Day dreaming

    ¨      A history of speech or language delay

    ¨      Family history of  literacy learning problems

    ¨      Muddling sounds in words eg ‘hostipal’ for ‘hospital’

    ¨      Enjoys being read to but no interest in looking at the words


    ¨      Lazy

    ¨      Dyslexic

    ¨      Attention deficit disorder

    ¨      Slow learner

    ¨      Behavioral problem

    ¨      Juvenile delinquent

    ¨      Working below potential

    ¨      Has no interest in being read to (may be described as an ‘outdoor kid’)


  • How To Reduce Stress Through Visual Hygiene To Better Reading

    Because there is an intimate relationship between posture, working distance, desk surface the pioneering experiments by Dr. Darrel Boyd Harmon and subsequent research by Dr. John Pierce and Dr. Steven Greenspan clearly prove a reduction of stress and improved performance when conditions are arranged properly for near-point visual activities such as reading and writing. The following changes were observed: reduced heart rate, more regular and deeper breathing, and reduced neck muscle and overall body tension. Improve your reading abilities today!


    Working Surface: A sloping working surface must be used that is tilted between 20 and 23 degrees from the horizontal.  The Visual Edge Slant Board is at 22 degrees, which has been found to be the optimum angle.

    Posture: Seated comfortably, relatively erect, feet flat on floor or box.

    Working Distance: The "Harmon Distance" is the optimal distance from the eyes to the working surface. It is the distance from the elbow to the first knuckle. This can only be assured with a proper chair height to desk relationship.

    Near point Lenses: ONLY IF PRESCRIBED BY A DEVELOPMENTAL OPTOMETRIST. A specific, low power prescription not used to correct a defect in the eyes but to put the eyes into better balance for near tasks. This enhances and integrates the posture, working distance, and surface relationship.


    good posture




    1. Ensure your reading material is at an angle of between 20 and 23 degrees.  The Visual Edge Slant Board is at an angle of 22 degree which research has shown to be the optimum angle at which to read.

    2. Do all near point activity at HARMON distance or slightly further. This is the distance from the center of the middle knuckle to the center of the elbow measured on the outside of the arm. Working at the Harmon distance reduces near point visual stress.

    3. Be AWARE of space between self and the page when reading. Also, be aware of things around and beyond the book.

    4. When reading, occasionally look off at a specific distant object and LET its details come into focus. Maintain awareness of other objects and details surrounding it. Do this at least at the end of each page.

    5. When studying, place a bookmark 3 or 4 pages ahead. Get up and move around for at least one minute each time you reach the bookmark.

    6. Sit UPRIGHT. Practice holding your back arched while you read and write. Avoid reading while lying on your stomach on the floor. Avoid reading in bed while lying on your stomach on the floor. Avoid reading in bed, unless sitting reasonably upright.

    7. Provide for adequate general illumination, as well as good central illumination, at the near task. The illumination on the task should be about three times that of the surrounding background.  Avoid the use of florescent lighting.

    8. Do not sit any closer to TV than 6 to 8 feet, and be sure to sit upright. Maintain good posture.

    9. When riding in a vehicle, avoid reading and other near activity. Encourage looking at sights in the distance for interest and identification.

    10. Encourage outdoor play or sports activities that require seeing beyond arm's length.

    11. When outdoors, sight a distant object at about eye level. At the same time, be aware of where things are on all sides.

    12. Walk with head up, eyes wide open and look TOWARD, not at, objects.

    13. Become very conscious of the background of the objects you look TOWARD, be it a person, print on a page, an electric sign, the TV, or any other object.



  • How To Treat ADHD Naturally


    A Developmental Approach

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is being diagnosed with increasing frequency in both children and adults. Many of these individuals were previously labeled hyperactive or minimally brain damaged. It is estimated that over one million people presently have this disorder.


    The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical (Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, classifies three types of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, and combined. Six of nine symptoms of inattention, and six of nine of hyperactivity and impulsivity are necessary for diagnosis.


    In each case, the symptoms must be present for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level. In addition, some symptoms must be present prior to age seven, and in two or more settings (e.g. at school, work and home). There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social academic or occupational functioning, and the impairment cannot be caused by other disorders such as anxiety, psychosis or a pervasive developmental disorder.


    Even though it is generally assumed that people diagnosed as having ADHD evidence a common set of characteristics emanating from a common etiology, little agreement is found among researchers regarding these symptoms. Some symptoms seen in children diagnosed as having attention deficits include:


    • Making careless mistakes in schoolwork
    • Difficulty sustaining attention to tasks
    • Not listening to what is being said
    • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
    • Losing and misplacing belongings
    • Fidgeting and squirming in seat
    • Talking excessively
    • Interrupting or intruding on others
    • Difficulty playing quietly


    These symptoms are also seen in both children and adults with learning-related visual problems, sensory integration dysfunction as well as with undiagnosed allergies or sensitivities to something they eat, drink or breathe. The chart that follows illustrates this graphically.


    Physicians often recommend that ADHD be treated symptomatically with stimulant medication, special education and counseling. Although these approaches sometimes yield positive benefits, they may mask the problems rather than get to their underlying causes.


    In addition, many common drugs for ADD, which have the same Class 2 classification as cocaine and morphine, can have some negative side effects that relate to appetite, sleep and growth. Placing a normal student who has difficulty paying attention in a special class and counseling could undermine rather than boost his self-esteem.


    A sensible, multi-disciplinary, developmental approach treats underlying causes rather than the symptoms which are secondary.


    TREATMENT OF ALLERGIES to pollen, molds, dust, foods and/or chemicals by eliminating or neutralizing them has also been shown to alleviate the identical symptoms, and without side effects.


    VISION THERAPY improves skills that allow a person to pay attention. These skill areas include visual tracking, fixation, focus change, binocular fusion and visualization. When all of these are well developed, children and adults can sustain attention, read and write without careless errors, give meaning to what they hear and see, and rely less on movement to stay alert.


    OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY for children with sensory integration dysfunction enhances their ability to process lower level senses related to alertness, understanding movement, body position and touch. This allows them to pay more attention to the higher level senses of hearing and vision.


    The public needs to understand that some behavioral optometrists, physicians, educators, mental health professionals, occupational therapists and allergists are all addressing the same symptoms and behaviors. The difference is that medication, special education and counseling can mask these symptoms and behaviors, while vision therapy, occupational therapy and the treatment of allergies may alleviate the underlying causes and thus eliminate the symptoms long-term.


    When making a choice about treatment for attention deficits:


    • Consult a behavioral optometrist for a developmental vision evaluation
    • Have a child evaluated by an occupational therapist with expertise in sensory processing problems
    • Consult an allergist regarding possible reactions to foods or airborne particles


    Take a look at our slant board that improves reading abilities in children of all ages and even adults.



    American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-lV), 1994.


    Ayres, A. Jean, Sensory Integration and the Child, Western Psychological Services, 1979.


    Crook, William G., Solving the Puzzle of Your Hard-to-Raise Child, Professional Books, 1987.


    Gesell, Arnold, and Ilg., Frances L., Infant and Child of the Culture of Today, Harper) 1943.


    Goodman, Gay, Poillion, M. J., The Journal of Special Education, "ADD: Acronym for Any Dysfunction or Difficulty," Vol 26, No. 1, l992, pp. 37-56.


    Kavner, Richard S., Your Child `s Vision, Simon and Schuster, 1985.


    Rapp, Doris J., Is This Your Child?, Morrow, 1991.


    Schmidt, M.A., Smith, L.H., Sehnert, K.W., Beyond Antibiotics: Healthier Options for Families, North Atlantic Rooks, 1994.


    Smith, Lendon, Foods for Healthy Kids, Berkeley Books, 1981.



    Vision Therapy

    Optometric Extension Program Foundation, Inc. (OEP Foundation)

    1921 E. Carnegie Ave., Ste. 3-L

    Santa Ana, CA 92705-5510

    (949) 250-8070


    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


    Occupational Therapy


    Sensory Integration International

    1602 Cabrillo Avenue

    Torrance, CA 90501

    (310) 320-9986


    American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.

    4720 Montgomery Lane

    P.O. Box 31220

    Bethesda, MD 20824-1220

    (301) 652-2682


  • Struggling With Reading




    vision problems in childrenAn 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.

    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.  Out of desperation, they give up and quit. Is it any wonder they struggle in school.

    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 that are struggling with reading should receive a comprehensive eye exam.  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

  • Glossary of Vision Terms

     Glossary of Vision Terms

    Acuity (Clearness of Sight): The ability to see clearly at near and far distances.

    Accommodation: The ability of the eyes to constantly focus for clarity and interpretation, with both eyes maintaining clarity regardless of changes in position, distance, or posture.

    Amblyopia (Lazy Eye): The condition in which one eye is not correctable to normal visual acuity with lenses; a lowered measured visual acuity in one eye compared to the other eye. This condition can result from strabismus, injury, or the student using one eye more than the other.

    Astigmatism (Eye Warp): The condition in which light rays reaching the retina are distorted and one experiences difficulty seeing clearly at any distance without excessive focusing effort on their part.

    Convergence: The ability to turn the eyes inward to track an object moving toward the body. The eyes must be converged any time a person reads or looks at something close. If the eyes do not converge correctly, double vision or the suppression of one eye or the other will occur. Convergence problems are fatiguing and the amount and efficiency of visual information processed is reduced.

    Developmental/Behavioral Optometrists: Have post‐doctoral training and certification in near vision diagnosis and treatment and usually practice optometric vision therapy in addition to general optometry.

    Eye Disease: The American Optometric Association has stated that school‐age children rarely have serious eye disease. However, it is still recommended that all children receive a thorough examination by an eyecare professional to rule out ocular pathology. Two common types of eye infections in children are sties and blepharitis. Blepharitis is the condition where lids become inflamed and crusty. This problem warrants a complete visual examination. "Pink Eye," or conjunctivitis, is contagious and the child needs to be sent home from school so he can be taken immediately to an eyecare professional for treatment.

    EyeHand Coordination: This is the ability of the vision system to coordinate the information received through the eyes to control, guide and direct the hands. A child with poor eye‐hand coordination will exhibit messy handwriting, get frustrated when trying to form letters and copy patterns, and sometimes performs poorly in sports.

    Eye Movement Control: The visual skills needed to smoothly and accurately move the eyes while following or locating an object. These skills include eye‐tracking, eye‐jumps and near‐to‐far movements. When a child has difficulty with eye‐movements, he will lose his place while reading, have difficulty copying from the chalkboard or books and will be a slow reader.

    Eye Teaming (Binocular Vision): The ability of the two eyes to align and team together to enable a student to judge his/her orientation in space and have depth perception. The ability of the eyes to work together as a matched pair and act as one single unit. A student experiencing eye‐teaming difficulties can be observed to cover one of his/her eyes, blink frequently, exhibit poor desk posture, tire easily when reading or not be able to complete his assignments.

    Far Point: In a person with 20/20 eyesight this is a distance beyond 10 feet. Far point may be different for individuals with eyesight problems.

    Farsightedness (Hyperopia): The condition in which one sees more clearly and maintains this focus more easily at distance than at near points. A common condition in children that can be easily missed by routine screenings but which can be found during a professional visual examination and for which prescription lenses can be prescribed.

    Fixation: The extremely critical ability to point the eyes at an object and to voluntarily keep them on the target. Without good fixation ability, a child can become easily distracted and has difficulty concentrating. Words can also appear to move on the page causing near visual distortion.

    Focusing NeartoFar: The ability to make the eyes look quickly from near to far and back again without momentary blur, conscious effort or discomfort. The student experiencing a near‐to‐far focusing difficulty will get frustrated and have trouble copying from a book, and even greater difficulty copying from the chalkboard or an overhead projector.

    Fusion: The ability of the brain to combine the stimuli from the two eyes into a single visual experience. When fusion cannot be maintained, one eye or the other must be suppressed in order to avoid double vision. Problems in maintaining binocularity can cause a person to squint, close or cover one eye, and experience discomfort with close work. Whenever fusion is difficult, the efficiency of visual information processing is greatly reduced.

    Kinesthesia: The muscle sense that provides information to the person regarding the degree of relaxation or tension in the muscles. Through this kinesthesia, the person is able to estimate the amount of force3 of muscle movement that is required to make contact with an object. This estimate is used to determine the distance to the object.

    Learning Lenses: The proper prescription lenses needed to help maintain clarity at nearpoint. Near‐point lenses are also used to help train the eyes to focus properly and improve visual attention and the overall attention span. These are bifocals for classroom use by students.

    Nearpoint: A distance approximately 14 to 16 inches away from a person. Nearpoint also refers to an accommodating (focusing) demand of approximately 2.5 diopters (a measurement of optical units) that a person must contend with when doing desk work.

    Nearsightedness (Myopia): The condition in which one sees more clearly and easily at near points than at distances. In most cases this condition is easily screened for and prescription lenses can be prescribed. Good visual acuity is then attained at distance. Research studies have shown that often the "near‐sighted students are the best readers.

    Opticians: Technicians who are trained to grind lenses to prescription and fit glasses. The opticians attend technical school and are not licensed to prescriptions for glasses or to perform eye examinations.

    Optometrists (O.D.): Doctors of Optometry who have attended a minimum of seven years of college and professional graduate education on the study of the eye. They can perform eye examinations, are licensed to write glasses prescriptions, and in all states since 1998, prescribe some ocular therapeutic medications. They do not perform ocular surgery.

    Ophthalmologist (M.D.): Physicians who have completed a residency and specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders and diseases of the eye. They can perform eye examinations, are licensed to prescribe medication and write glasses prescriptions, as well as perform ocular surgery.

    Proprioception: The proprioception system is made up of receptors which is located in our muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. These receptors give us information about the position of our body parts.

    Pursuit Movements: The ability to maintain fixation or visual attention on a moving object by moving the eyes at the same speed as the object, regardless of any changes in head or body posture.

    Saccadic Movements: The precise locating movements used, for example, when jumping from one word to another along a line of print. Saccadic movements are done with the eyes only, the head must remain stationary. They are critical for maintaining one’s place on a printed page.

    Scanning: Smooth eye movements enabling a person to maintain inspection of the words on a page or the lines in a design.

    Slant Board: A slopped work surface utilized in the treatment of vision processing problems. Critical to eliminate several deficiencies associated with reading at incorrect angle.

    Stereopsis: Depth perception. Use of both eyes as a team to form a single image with depth. Necessary for perception of the spatial orientation of the object viewed.

    Strabismus (Crossed or WallEyes): The condition that occurs when the two eyes do not align together resulting in double vision or the blocking of one eye’s visual image to the brain.

    Suppression: Cortical inhibition or the cancellation by the brain of the signals from an eye to avoid confusions and discomforts arising from problems of binocularity. It is a condition frequently found in those individuals having excessive visual stress, but can usually be reduced or eliminated through proper vision care and lens therapy. It is a common deterrent to academic progress. This symptom requires a clinical evaluation.

    Sustaining Clear Focus: The ability to see words on a page clearly over time. A child having difficulty maintaining sustained clear focus at near point can only read or concentrate on a near task for a short period of time.

    Tactile: information and interpretations derived from the sense of touch. This involves the skin’s contact with an object as well as sensations that approach the skin, such as pressure, wind, and temperature. The skin is the primary tactile organ and it has many different kinds of receptors for receiving sensations or touch, pressure, texture, temperature, pain, and movement of the skin hairs. The tactile system is the largest sensory system and it plays a vital role in human behavior.

    Vision: The primary tool used for the process of visual information in the learning process. Vision is the result of a child’s ability to interpret and understand the information that comes to him from sight. He must perceive the meaning of the visual information. Vision is the scope of a child’s understanding of his world and is based on what a child brings into the academic environment as well as what he derives from it.

    Vision Therapy: The carefully programmed series of visual activities, which may include the use of selected lenses and prisms that are applied in an effort to explore, extend, and enhance all the visual abilities and skills the human is capable of developing. These procedures are practiced most prevalently by developmental optometrists, and have been generated and validated by these professionals through clinical practice and carefully designed research. Such regimens have been very beneficial to students whose academic problems have some basis in visual inadequacies. Likewise, such vision care has been extremely beneficial in the attack upon the visual difficulties that originates through excessive stress in the classroom. Although there is continuing discussion of the validity and benefits of this special clinical care, such controversy is rapidly fading among those clinicians who take the time and make the effort to intelligently investigate these concepts and their applications. Many routines borrowed from the developmental optometrist by the special education teacher are now part and parcel of special education programs in hundreds of schools and colleges.

    Visual Attention: The ability to maintain visual fixation and concentration on a particular target or object. This skill is of critical necessity for school children and helps them maintain on‐task behaviors.

    Visual BiLaterality: The ability to project internal awareness of one’s own laterality out into space for use in discrimination of objects and symbols. Children with visual bilaterality difficulties can experience letter reversals, get confused with rights and lefts and exhibit poor coordination.

    Visual Form Perception: A developed skill that enables a child to accurately discriminate visible likenesses and differences so that comprehension can be immediately followed by appropriate actions. A child experiencing difficulty with visual form perception will frequently reverse words or letters or have poor discrimination when confronted with similar words or shapes.

    Visual Memory: The ability to visually recall learned facts. A child with a poor visual memory will have difficulty remembering reading material that was visually presented to him. The same child, however, might be able to recall the same information that was verbally read to him.

    VisualMotor Dysfunction: The inability of the eyes and hands to work together as a team. The child’s hands cannot do (or match) the action perceived through the visual system. This may involve visual‐tactile integration, where a child’s eyes and hands appear to be disconnected. In a broader sense, it is the inability of the visual system to monitor movements such as steering oneself through a room.

    Visualization: The ability to use the "mind’s eye" to visually conceptualize and manipulate thoughts and ideas. Frequently referred to as mental imagery it is recognized as a major component in memory and creativity. It is probably the most important of all the visual skills for achievement, performance, and survival in our culture because it is so closely related to reading, reading comprehension, spelling, writing and the skills of symbolic performance. Children with poor visualization skills are often poor goal setters and have a poor self image.

    Visual Stress: This situation is caused by excessive nearpoint work or inefficient movement or teaming patterns and results in visual fatigue. This tends to cause a decrease in performance or task avoidance. It is often confused with distractibility in children.

  • Fluorescent Lighting Can Trigger ADD/HD and Dyslexia

    Fluorescent lighting may do more harm than good. Long term clinical studies by the Irlen Institute and independent sources have found that reading difficulties aswell as academic underachievement may be related to fluorescent lighting. For example, a 2006 study by Capital E found that students in schools that had natural lighting instead of fluorescent lighting had 10 to 21 percent higher learning rates and test scores. Fluorescent lighting may cause pain and suffering for 12-14 percent of the world's population, triggering headaches, migraines, and other physical symptoms.

    According to U.S. Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), the long-term visual and perceptual effects of fluorescent lighting on Irlen Syndrome should be considered when drafting fluorescent lighting legislation.

    "Energy efficiency should be balanced with consumer protection and protecting the public health," she said “The long term effects of fluorescent lighting should be well studied and understood before Congress mandates that consumers use fluorescent lighting in their homes and businesses."

    Tens of thousands of people have sought help from the Irlen Institute because of difficulties with fluorescent lighting. These people are already at a distinct disadvantage because of the fluorescent lighting in their schools and workplaces. They stress and tire quickly. For many, reading ability quickly deteriorates and productivity suffers in the classroom and on the job. If forced to replace burned out incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones, these people may experience the same issues adversely affecting their lives at home, too.

    The following are just a few of the individuals who have been helped by the Irlen Method and no longer have problems directly resulting from fluorescent lights. But they are the lucky ones. Millions of other individuals are struggling to perform in a fluorescent lighting environment. We need to spread the word so that these individuals have a choice and are not forced to struggle in their homes, schools, and workplaces.

    • Sarah is 17 years old and in 11th grade, but not attending school. She was diagnosed with severe dyslexia and reading problems in second grade. She gets headaches daily when in school and migraines about twice a month. She was physically exhausted when she would come home and sleep for hours and was experiencing extreme anxiety. Her psychiatrist determined her problems were triggered by fluorescent lighting, placed her on Prozac, and recommended that she leave school. The negative affects of the fluorescent lighting have seriously affected her motivation, attention, and performance.
    • Bryce is 12 years old and in the sixth grade. He was getting poor grades in school, was unable to finish tests, could not finish his work in class, or focus. He was diagnosed with ADD and placed on medication, which was not helpful. Once it was determined that fluorescent lighting triggered poor attention and concentration, the problems were resolved using specially filtered lenses.
    • Tanisha is a third grader with reading problems who falls asleep in class under fluorescent lights. She also gets headaches when trying to read under fluorescent lights, because the words and numbers move around on the page.
    • Mariel is 29 years old and would always fall asleep in class even though she had enough sleep. For her, fluorescent lights are too bright, bothersome, and irritating. She is unable to concentrate and wants to turn them off. Fluorescent lights make her dizzy, tired, irritated, nervous, and anxious.

    The Irlen Institute has seen thousands of individuals like these who struggle trying to read and perform under fluorescent lighting. Individuals have been mislabeled with LD, ADD/HD, reading problems, and dyslexia—all as a result of having to perform under fluorescent lights.

    This is a little known problem that affects millions. Faced with a worldwide movement to ban incandescent bulbs, it is critical for all of us to be more informed and to raise the awareness of others. Energy efficiency should be balanced with consumer protection and protecting the public heath. I encourage you to share this information with others and visit the International Irlen website. Then take action by making your concerns known to your schools, employers, and legislators at the local, state, and national levels.

    By Helen L. Irlen, MA, LMFT, Executive Director, Irlen Institute International

  • The Proper Lighting for Reading

    proper lighting for readingHaving the proper lighting for reading will help you maintain the health of your eyes. Ensure that the type of light
    you use, the angle of the light fixture, and the brightness of the light allow you to read without straining
    your eyes.

    Effects of Inadequate Lighting

    Reading in improper lighting can give you headaches, cause your eyes to feel strained,
    and even cause vision to deteriorate. Harsh lighting, such as fluorescent lighting, causes
    some people to suffer from migraines. These problems can get worse over time.


    Using a personal lamp with a bendable neck will help you to read more comfortably. A
    flexible lamp allows you to angle the light to exactly where you need it, while reducing
    glare. It usually provides better lighting than overhead lights, while also conserving
    energy by not requiring you to light up the entire room. Many experts agree that most
    people should use a 100-watt lamp for reading. If this feels uncomfortable to you, ask
    your eye doctor what may work better.

    New Technology

    NASA played a role in developing a new bulb to provide better reading light, says the
    article "Save Sight with More Light" on the PsychCentral website. It has a frosty finish to
    minimize glare, and scientists believe it may help to alleviate some eye problems such as
    macular degeneration, says the article. This bulb, called the Eye Saver, provides 40
    percent more surface light than the standard incandescent bulb, the article notes, helping
    to prevent potential eye problems as well.
    As LED lights are becoming more popular for their longevity, many people are using
    them as reading lamps as well. These types of lights come in many different strengths, so
    test them to find out what works well for you. Be aware that their light may gradually
    fade over time, and replace the batteries when the light starts to grow dimmer.

    What to Avoid

    Fluorescent lights are the worst form, Leo Angart says in his book, "Improve Your
    Eyesight Naturally: Easy, Effective, See Results Quickly." They put forth a distorted
    spectrum of light (producing less red and blue violet) and often flicker. Even if you work
    in an office with fluorescent light, says Angart, you can reduce strain on your eyes by
    using an incandescent or halogen desk lamp.
    Also, reading from a computer, or any screen with a glare, can give you what doctors
    now term Computer Vision Syndrome, says the Total Vision Care website. The constant
    shifting of pixels on the screen strains your eyes, says the website, which provides
    information about addressing this condition. You may want to avoid reading from a
    computer whenever possible during your leisure time as well.


    No matter how old or young you are, or whether you currently have any vision problems,
    ensuring the best lighting conditions will keep your eyes as healthy as possible. You'll
    make reading more enjoyable, too, by minimizing the strain on your eyes.

    By Valerie Madison

  • 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

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