Have you ever wondered if what you see is really the right way of visually seeing the world? If youåÊfind all of your visual tasks to be pretty easy to accomplish, then you mayåÊnever have thought that there is anything besides just being able toåÊ”see clearly”. Now, imagine being a child who in fact sees print overlap or move while readingåÊand yet not knowing that “doubling letters” is not the right way of seeing. A child wouldn’tåÊ know that overlapping print is a sign of a problem since theyåÊhave no reference to what is actually normal vision.
My name is Amanda Hodge,åÊ4th Optometry Student at Michigan’s College ofåÊOptometry at Ferris StateåÊUniversity åÊand I have just completed my 2nd rotation with Dr. Dan Fortenbacher and the team at at Wow Vision Therapy. As a doctor in training, this experience has opened my eyes to many aspects optometric care that I was literally not aware of until I saw the vision therapy patient in action.åÊ For example, I have heard several children say, “I didn’t know I wasn’t suppose to see like that.” What occurred to me is that this may be the main reason why younger children often do not have complaints about their vision. What I’ve learned is that a child can have a significant visual problem but never announce anything to their parents because theyåÊdon’t know any different.
This is true for doctors too!åÊ Doctors who work with children’s visionåÊmust be aware of the behaviors which can be signs and symptoms of a problem that requires the necessary testing to make the right diagnosis.åÊOftenåÊa parent may see a behavior in their child and just assume that it is something else, but in fact be a sign of a significant vision problem.
Some examples of questions parents can ask their children or themselves are:
- Do you notice one eye turns in or out, up or down?
- Do you squint trying to see things?
- Do you close or cover one eye?
- Do you avoid near work such as reading?
- Do you use your finger to keep your place when reading?
- Do you have a short attention span?
- Do you have sloppy handwriting?
- Do you have trouble with reversals such as bdpq’s?
- Do words appear double or move while reading?
Other symptoms can be found on the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) website Vision and Learning Symptoms checklist. Another good resource for children and vision is the American Optometric Association (AOA) Good Vision Throughout Life. This section breaks down what to be aware of for different age groups.
If you as the parent or your child answered “yes” to any of the above questions (or those on the COVD or AOA website) it is important to make the time to scheduleåÊ your child for a comprehensive vision examination. Make sure you tell theåÊdoctor what your concerns areåÊand specifically askåÊthe doctor if he/she offers vision therapy or has a referral protocol with aåÊvision therapy provider if your child requires VT care. Simply ask, “Do you ever recommend vision therapy for your patients?” If the answer is no, then your doctor may also overlook the vision problems that are only detected by running the correct vision tests.
Now you might be saying to yourself, I don’t have a doctor and don’t know where to begin? Well a good place to get started would be to visit the Doctor Locator via the COVD websiteåÊand/oråÊthe AOA websiteåÊåÊby locating an optometrist who works in pediatrics.
Don’t let your child fall through the cracks of having to deal with an undiagnosed vision related learning problem. Schedule a comprehensive vision examination for your child if you are concerned that vision may be playing a part in your child’s struggles. But, most importantlyåÊbe sure that you ask the right questions.
4th Year Intern, Michigan College of Optometry