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How to Know If Your Child Has a Functional Vision Problem

Functional Vision ProblemMany parents mistakenly assume that if their children have excellent eyesight, their visual system is functioning normally. Yet even if children have 20/20 vision, they may experience problems with their functional vision — how the eyes and brain work together to perform many everyday tasks.

Being aware of your child’s functional vision problems and addressing them is vital because well developed visual function means the eye and brain are communicating effectively. This is key to learning in class and throughout life. Functional vision problems can leave children feeling frustrated, cause difficulties with maintaining concentration and hinder their ability to reach their potential.

Symptoms of Functional Vision Problems

Children who have a visual function problem may:

  • Frequently rub their eyes
  • Experience persistent headaches
  • See double images
  • Seem overly fatigued
  • Cover one eye in the classroom, especially while reading, and doing homework
  • Tilt their head to see

While reading, they may:

  • Read slower than their classmates
  • Have reduced reading comprehension
  • Lose their place on the page
  • Hold written material or a digital screen too close to their faces
  • Avoid reading altogether

Problems with functional vision may force children to compensate by covering one eye or tilting their head to avoid the symptoms and make a task easier.

Such struggles cause fatigue of the eyes and body, along with headaches.

Possible Causes of Functional Vision Problems and How to Address Them

Your children’s functional vision requires the following visual skills. During a comprehensive visual function examination we will check for:

Convergence. Both eyes looking at and focusing on a nearby object, such as a book or computer screen

Tracking. Both eyes moving together as a task demands, such as following the words across a page or the arc of a basketball shot

Accommodation. Both eyes maintaining focus on an object as it moves closer or farther away

Alignment. Both eyes properly lining up so that they see the same object and send the same image to the brain

Fortunately, we can get your child back to enjoying school, reading and other activities. Bring your child in for an eye exam with Dr. Jesley Johnson, who also will conduct a comprehensive examination for functional vision. This test is different from the standard vision screening your child likely receives in school, and is more extensive than a regular eye exam.

If we detect the shortfalls mentioned above, we’ll recommend vision therapy and then prescribe a customized program. Vision therapy is a month-long program made up of in-office and at-home exercises. These exercises, when done regularly and diligently, will significantly improve your child’s convergence, tracking, accommodation, and alignment, and get their visual functioning where it needs to be to enjoy daily activities and succeed in school.

When that happens, expect your child to request many more trips to the library!

The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians provides vision therapy for children with functional vision challenges from Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and throughout California.

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Can At-Home Learning Cause Vision Problems in Children?

Home LearningMillions of schoolchildren are studying at home in coronavirus-dictated on-line classes. While squinting at the blackboard is less common for now, remote learning presents students with other vision challenges. The most common problem is digital eye strain — also called computer vision syndrome. Spending many hours indoors has also been linked to the rapid progression of myopia, the elongation of the eye that causes nearsightedness.

These problems are especially worrying because children are spending an estimated 50% more time on-line compared to the days before the coronavirus.

Digital eye strain results from the prolonged use of digital screens. The eye strain then causes headaches, blurriness, dry eyes, difficulties with concentration, and neck and shoulder pain. The effects of digital eye strain are also worsened by any existing eye conditions — such as astigmatism, uncorrected anisometropia, and uncorrected eye movement problems.

It’s important that your children undergo a thorough eye exam, and to correct or treat eye conditions that can interfere with their learning, both in the classroom and online.

How Parents Can Help

Conditions that contribute to a child experiencing digital eye strain also include insufficient contrast between characters appearing on the screen and the screen’s background, the amount of glare emitted by the computer or tablet screen, being too close to or too far from the screen, and poor posture.

By monitoring your children’s learning environment and recognizing the signs of digital eye strain, you can prevent or at least minimize the effects of eye strain on your child. The American Optometric Association recommends:

  • Adjusting the device so that the center of the screen is approximately 5 inches below the eyes and 20–28 inches away
  • Tilting the screen to eliminate glare
  • Employing proper posture, with feet planted firmly on the floor, back straight, and wrists off the keyboard
  • Blinking frequently to keep the eyes moist
  • Taking frequent breaks away from the device (at least every 20 minutes)
  • Shutting devices at least one hour before going to sleep

Research has shown that children who spend significant time playing in the sunshine experience slower myopia progression than children who stay indoors. So make sure your children get plenty of sunshine, weather permitting.

 

 

If your children haven’t yet undergone their annual comprehensive start-of-school eye exam, schedule an appointment with Dr. Jesley Johnson. We’ll advise you and your children on how to keep their vision clear and comfortable and their eyes healthy during this extended period of at-home learning. The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians helps parents and children from Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Cupertino, and throughout California.

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Will Wearing Glasses Weaken My Eyes?

young child reading a book 640×350Some people mistakenly believe that wearing glasses weakens our eyesight. While glasses correct vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, they cause our eyesight to deteriorate.

The misunderstanding may be due to mixing up cause and effect. Getting new glasses will help you see more clearly, but you may need a stronger prescription a year or two later. If you think your glasses weakened your vision, let us tell you that it is simply not the case. It is perfectly natural for children and adults to experience vision changes as they get older.

If anything, in certain cases it can be damaging not to wear glasses. For children with crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia), glasses help straighten their eyes or improve vision, according to the Mayo Clinic Health System. Not wearing them may lead to an eye turn or lazy eye becoming permanent. In addition, an eye doctor may prescribe special glasses to children during vision therapy, or until a child’s eyes mature. These glasses will strengthen, not weaken the eyes. In many cases, the child won’t need glasses after vision therapy concludes.

Wearing glasses can make all the difference between enjoying a book, comfortably working at a computer or driving with confidence, and experiencing headaches, eye strain, and frustration.

 

The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians makes sure that patients from Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Cupertino, and throughout California wear the right eyeglasses for their needs.

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The 5 Most Common Vision Problems In Children

child taking photographAs children grow, their vision becomes increasingly relevant to their academic and social success. For example, children who have difficulty reading due to a visual problem may shy away from reading aloud in class, fearing ridicule from their classmates. Given that 80% of classroom learning is vision-based, it’s no surprise that even slight visual difficulties can dramatically affect scholastic achievement. For this reason it’s important for parents and teachers to be aware of the most prevalent visual problems that can affect children.

Fortunately, many of these conditions are treatable. At The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians, we treat children with various visual impairments and help them regain the visual ability and confidence they need to succeed.

Here’s our list of the five most common pediatric visual problems that we treat on a daily basis:

1- Refractive Errors

Refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism are the most common visual problems in children today. Myopia and hyperopia impair visual acuity, which is the ability to clearly see objects that are close up or far away. Children with refractive errors may squint, sit too close to the whiteboard or TV screen, or complain that their vision is fuzzy. Prescription lenses are the most effective way to correct refractive errors.

2- Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Binocular vision is the ability to see one image with both eyes working together. When the eyes are aligned perfectly, they send two images to the brain, and the brain creates one clear image. In binocular vision dysfunction (BVD) the eyes have difficulty working together. BVD can produce symptoms similar to a learning disorder and can impact academic success, making it crucial for a child that’s been diagnosed with a learning disorder to undergo a functional eye exam to rule out visual dysfunction as the primary cause of symptoms.

3- Amblyopia

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” occurs when vision in one eye is reduced due to a communication error between the brain and the affected eye. Amblyopia usually involves one eye but in rare cases can affect both. It usually develops in infancy and affects 2-5% of preschool-aged children. It’s time to suspect amblyopia if a child or baby becomes visibly bothered when one eye is covered, has poor depth perception, or is excessively clumsy. It’s recommended that babies have their first eye exam around 6 months of age to confirm that their vision is healthy.

4- Strabismus

Otherwise known as “eye-turn” or “crossed-eyes,” strabismus is an ocular condition where one or both eyes do not focus on the same object at the same time and have trouble maintaining their correct position. Eye misalignment in early childhood can lead to amblyopia, as the brain suppresses the image from the affected eye. Some symptoms of strabismus may include wandering eye (the eyes drift outward) and covering one eye when looking at a near object. Strabismus can result in the child tilting the head to look at an object, and frequently bumping into things. In some children with strabismus, their eyes may appear straight but have difficulty working as a team. This makes it difficult for the eyes to send correct images to the brain.

5- Convergence Insufficiency

Convergence insufficiency (CI) means the eyes have a problem focusing on near or moving objects. Eyes with normal convergence abilities point inwards when focusing on a very nearby object. For example, the closer something moves towards the nose, the more inwards the eyes will point to focus on that object. In cases of CI, the child suffers with fatigue when trying to point inwards, resulting in tiredness, to the point where the child’s reading ability and comprehension are affected. Children with CI will likely have difficulty reading and focusing, and may experience eyestrain or blurred vision.

 

 

How Can Your Optometrist Help?

The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians provides many services and treatments to young patients with visual problems. We offer a wide variety of prescription lenses to correct refractive errors.

We also provide vision therapy to treat conditions such as amblyopia, strabismus, convergence insufficiency, and binocular vision dysfunction. Vision therapy (VT) is a personalized program of in-office treatments and at-home exercises that train the eyes and brain to work in unison.

If you are concerned about your child’s academic or sports performance or think that their visual skills may need strengthening, bring them in for a functional visual evaluation. Dr. Jesley Johnson will assess your child’s visual skills and general ocular health using standardized diagnostic tools for the most accurate examination.

For more information and to schedule an appointment, call The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians today — we look forward to hearing from you!

The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians serves patients from Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Cupertino, and throughout California.

 

Is Your Child or Young Adult a Struggling Student?

female student suffering from headache in library 3808057Students of all ages can struggle with focusing and learning problems that can impede their academic success. What many don’t know is that an estimated 80% of students with learning difficulties actually have an undiagnosed visual problem that could be contributing to their academic challenges. Additionally, 80% of a child’s learning in school is vision-based, so a problem with visual skills could negatively affect academic performance. A personalized vision therapy program with The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians can help your child gain the visual skills they need to succeed.

How Can I Tell If My Child Has a Vision Problem?

Your child may display any number of the following symptoms or behaviors due to a vision problem:

  • Frequent head tilting
  • Headaches, dizziness, or eye strain
  • Poor depth perception
  • Tendency to close one eye
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Avoidance of visually demanding tasks
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Easily loses place or skips lines while reading
  • Difficulty judging an object’s size or shape
  • Difficulty focusing for extended periods of time
  • Behavioral issues

It’s important to note that the only way to accurately determine whether your child has a visual problem is to bring them in for a functional visual evaluation where Dr. Jesley Johnson will assess your child’s eye health and various visual skills. If a visual problem is detected, vision therapy may be recommended to treat the issue and restore healthy vision.

How Can Vision Therapy Improve Learning?

Vision therapy is a personalized series of in-house, weekly sessions that are meant to strengthen the eye-brain connection and ensure that both eyes work in unison to create a unified and clear image of their surroundings. Vision therapy has little to do with eye “strength” or visual acuity (distance vision). Rather, it focuses on building and refining other visual skills, such as eye teaming and tracking — skills necessary for efficient reading and learning.

The vision therapist will use various tools to aid in the therapeutic process, such as prisms, filters, balance boards, therapeutic lenses, and more. At the end of each session, the patient will be instructed to perform eye exercises daily until the next session as an at-home component to the program. Progress will be closely monitored to ensure there is an improvement.

By strengthening the eye-brain connection, scholastic tasks like reading and focusing will likely become easier for your child since less effort is needed to perform them. Increased ease in these areas will also boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem. Vision therapy has the potential to transform a struggling student into a thriving one.

Is Your Child or Young Adult a Struggling Student? from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Jump Start Your Child’s Academic Year

The summer months are the optimal time to begin vision therapy sessions to prepare for the upcoming school year. Especially in Covid-19 times, when most of a child’s learning may be on a computer, it’s the perfect time to determine if your child’s struggles are classroom-based or vision-based. Call The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians today to book your child’s consultation with Dr. Jesley Johnson and start them on the path to success.

The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians provides vision therapy and other services to patients from Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Cupertino, and throughout California.

 

Why Vision Therapy Provides Lasting Correction For Strabismus – Eye-Turn

cat strabismusStrabismus, more commonly referred to as “cross-eye” or “eye turn,” is a condition where the eyes don’t point in the same direction. While many people choose to correct the condition with surgery, the problem often persists, leaving many patients with little to no improvement. A better, more holistic approach is a personalized vision therapy program like the one offered at The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians. If you or a loved one is experiencing even a slight eye-turn, speak with Dr. Jesley Johnson to determine if vision therapy can help you.

What Is Strabismus?

The terms “eye-turn” and “lazy-eye” are often confused, but they are two different conditions. Strabismus refers to an eye-turn, a condition that can be constant or occur only sporadically. The eyes don’t move in unison, so when the brain receives a different image from each eye, it can’t form a unified image. To cope with the conflicting messages, the brain may suppress, or “turn off,” one of the images. As a result, the suppressed eye will not develop the same coordination with the brain as the stronger eye, which can lead to permanent visual loss or even blindness in the weaker eye, and several other serious visual problems.

Strabismus can manifest in different ways and with varying degrees of magnitude. Each case is unique, and your optometrist can provide clarity on your particular condition at your next eye exam.

What Are Common Symptoms of Strabismus?

When the eyes aren’t aligned, certain symptoms can arise. Aside from the eyes being visibly misaligned, someone with strabismus may squint or tilt their head in order to avoid seeing double. An eye-turn also negatively affects depth perception, making driving or playing sports challenging.

Children with strabismus may close or cover one eye when trying to read the board in the classroom, or while focusing on distant objects. They may have poor grades and be reluctant to participate in team sports due to a lack of visual skills. Often, children with visual difficulties are mistakenly diagnosed with a learning or social disorder when their vision is the problem.

Why Is Vision Therapy a Better Treatment Than Surgery?

The primary reason that surgery isn’t the ideal strabismus treatment is that it ignores the source of the problem: the connection between the brain and the affected eye. Surgeons will try and move the point of the muscle’s attachment to the eye in the hope that this will straighten the affected eye. While this method can at times be effective, many patients are left needing a second or even third surgery because the first hasn’t produced the necessary improvement. Additionally, surgery is invasive and poses risks of infection and other surgical complications.

In the event that surgery is the best option, optometrists often recommend a program of vision therapy either before or after the surgery. This program provides the best opportunity for the misaligned eye to develop connectivity to the brain and stay in the correct position.

In contrast to surgery, optometric vision therapy trains the brain and eye to work together to achieve long-lasting results. By developing this eye-brain connectivity, the long term goal is for eyes to work in unison and ultimately achieve 3D vision.

If you or your child have been diagnosed with strabismus, call The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians to schedule an eye exam with Dr. Jesley Johnson and start your journey to healthy vision.

Why Does Vision Therapy Help with Strabismus from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

The Vision Therapy Center at Silicon Valley Eye Physicians provides vision therapy and other services to patients from Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Cupertino, and throughout California.

 

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