VISION AND LEARNING
A large part of learning is done visually. Reading, writing, spelling and computer work are among the tasks our eyes are involved in all day long. Some children and adults struggle with these learning situations due to difficulties with their vision.
Clear vision is not the only requirement for the performance of visual tasks. We must have a variety of scanning, focusing and visual coordination skills for effective learning. If these visual skills have not been developed, the following behaviours may be observed:
- Discomfort, eye strain, fatigue
- Avoidance of near work
- Reduction in comprehension
There are 3 components to vision that should interact together to produce efficient, effortless visual coordination:
3 Eye Movement
1 VERGENCE is a term relating to the movement of the eyes relative to each other, that ensures they are always looking at the same point in space. A person with these difficulties may experience dull headaches, become very tired with short periods of close work and may quickly lose concentration and have difficulty completing work.
2 FOCUS Closely linked to vergence is the FOCUS system. The eyes may be working closely to the limits of their ability or there may be difficulty focusing from one distance to another. This may lead to difficulties in copying material for example from the board to the page at school. The relationship between the focus and the vergence system is critical in the maintenance of clear, comfortable vision. Individuals who show difficulties with one aspect of this relationship are likely to show difficulties in other areas.
3 EYE MOVEMENT has three important elements to consider. First, can an individual keep his/her eyes still long enough to take in the information. Problems here can lead to distractible behaviour or inattentiveness. If we can do this we can learn to maintain fixation on a moving target, to track or pursue it. These pursuit movements are essential; for keeping control of our hand when writing and are the prerequisites for developing the saccadic (rapid location and relocation) eye movements necessary for reading. Where problems exist with the saccadic eye movements, the eyes are likely to move more erratically and may cause us to lose our place when reading and locating the next line on the page. Comprehension may suffer as a result and reading becomes a chore. In addition to skilled visual co-ordination, it is important for us to have good directional awareness, so that we are able to link visual signals with an understanding of the direction of movement.
This allows us to distinguish similar appearing but directionally specific letters such as “b/d” and words such as “on/no”.
Signs suggesting directional problems include;
* Letter reversals
* Mirror writing
* Sequencing difficulties
* Confusion with left and right (past the age of 7years).
Good physical visual skills are essential for the development of visualisation which is important in the process of spelling.
Problems suggesting visualisation difficulties may include:
- Spelling showing phonetic type errors
- May be able to “rote” learn but unable to spell in free writing.
- Difficulties with short term memory
SPECIFIC LEARNING DIFFICULTIES
Vision problems do not cause specific learning difficulties however, poor visual skills can often be identified in children and adults with specific learning difficulties. Poor visual co-ordination can contribute significantly to the problems experienced by these individuals. Vision Training exercises can in some cases improve visual skills and so help poor visual co-ordination.
WHAT IS VISION THERAPY?
Vision Therapy uses Orthoptic exercises to treat eye problems which cause the symptoms of eye strain/fatigue, discomfort and headache, blurred vision and/or double vision, nausea, dry gritty and watery eyes.
These symptoms may be brought on because of problems with the eye muscles involved in visual related skills such as reading and near work but also because the muscle control is reduced or deficient. It is possible in some cases to improve the control of the eye movements in order to relieve the above symptoms.
HOW DO I GET AN ASSESSMENT?
Our optometrist can assess your need for treatment and tailor these exercises to your specific situation. Sometimes this requires a course of exercises over a few weeks or months.
The initial assessment will include a full sight test along with a battery of tests to identify the type and nature of the visual problem.
Vision Therapy is then normally prescribed in a combination of at home and in-practice training. In-practice training means that activities can be adapted as a change occurs and helps the child to maintain the discipline of home therapy.
A regular monitoring and exercising commitment to the treatment is essential and the course normally continues for a period of 4 to 12 weeks.
Costs of the treatment:
This is approximately 30 minutes and costs £75
A course of 3 sessions is available at a reduced fee of £150 when booked and paid for immediately following the initial assessment. This would include the initial assessment plus 2 follow up appointments. Subsequent appointments can be booked individually or again at the reduced fee for a course of 3.
There may be an additional charge of £10 for equipment supplied.