Many patients and parents often ask me, “Why did you become interested in vision therapy?” While it brings me joy to help patients see in 3D for the first time or help a patient eliminate double vision, many people are surprised to hear that those are not why I chose to specialize in this field. The thing I love the most is watching the emotional transformation that occurs while they are working on achieving a stable binocular system.
Binocular visual performance can have a huge impact on quality of life. When a person’s two eyes are not working together, the visual system is giving them inaccurate information (double vision, poor depth perception, words moving on the page, poor visual processing, etc.), they learn not to trust what they see, throwing their whole body into “fight or flight” mode. Being in this state for extended periods can be exhausting mentally, physically, and emotionally. During my initial comprehensive evaluation with a child or adult with binocular vision problems, a common thread expressed in their history is that they are struggling with anxiety/depression and low self-confidence. This shows up frequently when patients have binocular vision-related reading struggles, eye teaming failure (Strabismus), lazy eye (Amblyopia), and especially those with persistent symptoms after a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion.
Because of this link between binocular vision problems and their connection to emotional wellness, I was thrilled when Grand Valley State University’s Social Workers Continuing Education Program asked me to provide an in-depth 3-hour lecture to their members. On February 11, 2022, I presented: The Effects of Binocular Vision Dysfunctions on Socio-Emotional Development. I think it is crucial to help get more information out to colleagues in other specialties about what to look for regarding binocular vision and socio-emotional wellness. The more we collaborate, the more people we will be able to help, improving their quality of life.
A parent of one of my former patients said it best that what we do in vision therapy goes way beyond just vision. When her 1st-grade daughter started vision therapy, she asked her mom, “why is my brain so stupid?” By the end of her vision therapy journey with us, her mom shared that she had run out of school the week before shouting, “I am the smartest girl in my class, mom!!” This is truly my goal with all of my patients – to help them improve their visual system and, more importantly, to help them gain self-confidence in their daily lives.
Alyssa Parz, O.D., FCOVD
PARTNER, DEVELOPMENTAL OPTOMETRIST
Wow Vision Therapy
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