I would like to talk about vision problems and a common misconception that “nothing can be done” once a person has reached a certain age. Sadly I’ve had many adults come for evaluations who were told as teens that nothing could be done to treat their vision problem. Professionals told them and their parents that the time had passed for them to correct deficiencies.
As a developmental optometrist, hearing this frustrates me greatly. The fact is, something can always be done at any age, to resolve most visual skill deficiencies.
To illustrate, I am going to discuss a recent 16 year old patient vision therapy graduate from our program at Cantwell Vision Therapy Centers. To protect the patient’s privacy, I will not use his real name. I will call him John.
John was referred to my office by another optometrist who detected visual inadequacies. At his first consultation, John’s parents expressed their concern about his reading ability, especially in keeping up with demands of honors classes in his high school. John already had a 504 plan in place with the county school system allowing him more time to complete tests. John’s parents said he was impulsive, frustrated easily, lost place often while reading, and was behind grade level in reading.
A thorough developmental visual exam revealed that John struggled with a few visual deficiencies. Key was his convergence insufficiency, a vision problem I see often as a developmental optometrist and which I have discussed in other posts. This eye-teaming problem made it hard for John to maintain visual concentration at the near-distance required for reading. Coupled is a focusing problem (accommodation – another problem I see often in my practice), it was obvious to me why John struggled with reading.
At my recommendation, John’s parents enrolled him in a standard vision therapy program – he came to my office twice a week for 35 minute sessions and worked with a vision therapist to treat the convergence insufficiency and focusing issues. Home therapy was not prescribed.
After 9 months of therapy, the vision problems were treated and John graduated from our program. When asked to write a few words about how vision therapy helped John, his mother provided the following:
1) Our son went from reading at a middle school level (beginning of therapy) to post-high school level after 9 months of therapy. He is 16 years old.
2) [Dr. Cantwell] provided evidence that there was a problem provided a step-by-step tools that could be used to help him excel.
3) Our son was skipping when reading when we began the program. Dr. Cantwell and his staff worked vigorously to help him gain back his confidence and feel comfortable in an academic environment.
4) We can’t thank Dr. Cantwell and his devoted staff enough for all of their help with out son. They care about children and their development. Ms. Connie [vision therapist] is the best! She cares and it shows. She doesn’t intimidate the children, but makes them feel good. She is such a positive influence. Ms. Karen and Rebecca [front office staff] are terrific! They are so professional and helpful. They get to know the children and the families and help make the experience better.
So remember, at any age, a person with vision problems can be helped. When we treat patients with vision therapy, we’re removing those very real barriers that make visual tasks an arduous struggle. While I have many patients in elementary school, I also work with those in middle school, high school, college, and beyond. If you or someone you know has symptoms of a vision problem [CLICK HERE FOR LIST OF SYMPTOMS] it’s never too late to get a developmental vision exam.
I hope you found this information helpful.
Dennis R. Cantwell