Has Anyone's Child Done Vision Therapy (Other than for Lazy Eye)?

Updated on April 12, 2013
J.T. asks from Oradell, NJ
12 answers

My 8.5 year old was diagnosed with "accomodative spasms". First we went to a regular optometrist bc she complained she couldn't always see the board in school. Her vision is 20/20 yet the dr said she has this issue bc can't focus easily from near to far bc her eye muscles are basically hyper focusing all the time. This affects her reading too. So she recommended a specialist who offers vision therapy, the idea being her eye muscles need to learn to relax. That doctor performed more in-depth tests and agreed she has this focusing issue. Her "tracking" apparent is horrible, her eyes don't work well together etc. It makes some sense as we had her tested in general last year bc she was fighting reading so much and part of her IQ is super high but they said she seemed to have a visual processing disorder. All these things no one ever had when we were kids! I was raised to be very skeptical so part of me wonders if all this just gets $$ out of us for therapies/tutors. We can afford it and I'm more than happy to pay if this is needed but since we can't "see" any issue and she's doing fine in school, I'm trying to confirm this type of thing is not out of left field and a waste of time and money. The doctor said she's doing fine in school bc she's very smart so can compensate for now. I heard vision therpy is not believed in by "mainstream" doctors... I'm trying to get local references too but anyone have a similar issue?

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answers from Kansas City on

I've had glasses since first grade.
That's neither here nor there, but my childhood optometrist has gone 100% into vision therapy and is very well regarded as a leader in the field--he's been doing this since the 70's.
He does a lot of work with LD issues, but might be some info about focus, tracking, etc.
You might find some helpful info on his website:

Good luck!

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answers from New London on

Vision therapy is not a waste of time. I was very fortunate to learn about sensory, vision, inattentive ADD, etc...while I was training to become a certified parent educator.

Sight is different from vision. When my own child turned 7, she told me that the words were jumping off the page. Her tracking was not good, either.

I felt blessed to have had all of this knowledge in my back pocket due to the training I had. I went directly to a doctor who specialized in vision theraphy. My child did NOT have a high IQ and her struggles were much more obvious. The teachers said she was a slow reader and that she would catch up. They were wrong. So, I took matters into my own hands and got her the help she needed.

This is usually an undetected deficit...and sadly, many children do not get to go to vision theraphy ! It's not much different fron inattentive ADD. So many kids who do not have the hyperactivity ADHD brings--are often overlooked unless they have a well informed parent, teacher or doctor.

I am so glad to hear that your doctor referred you to a specialist !!!!

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answers from Chicago on

When my kids were at a Catholic school, there was a child there that might have had the same thing. Not sure what it was called. He would complain that he could not see the words when reading but his mom said the doc said he was fine and no glasses needed. She took him to an opthamologist who helped diagnose him. They started vision therapy of some kind and it was helping. I don't know how successful it was overall since my kids transferred to public school 8 months later. But the time that i had spoken to her she was happy with it. He was not complaining as much and reading more.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hi J.,

My son was diagnosed with ocular motor dysfunction and convergence dysfunction last year. This severely affected his depth perception and his ability to focus on things within a 6' range or so. We started vision therapy in August and we have seen very noticeable improvement, so much so that the optometrist we visit says that we might be able to take a break on it for a while.
(I should add that he first was diagnosed by an ophthalmologist, we later found an eye therapist closer to home who is an optometrist but trained through the first doc's clinic.)
When we started, my son couldn't cross his eyes; now, we've worked a lot on convergence and have seen great improvement in this area. As for the ocular motor dysfunction, he will have to deal with this all his life. His eyes get tired easily, so we do 'eye exercises' to provide strengthening for focusing and to give his brain/eye good biofeedback on how things feel when they are working correctly. We did a lot of tracking exercises-- things like rolling marbles back and forth, under objects--so that when they came into his line of sight, he'd have to focus and track them and catch them in a cup. We played catch outside a lot, which helped. Many of the exercises were very challenging at first, and then grew to be fun as his eyes strengthened and gained more experience having to focus on moving objects which came toward him.

I would strongly encourage you to give therapy a try. It's so hard not to be able to see the board, and you say it's affecting her reading; I'm thinking it's worth a shot. Eye therapy is not endorsed by the American Academy of Ophthalmologists, and our son's eye doctor is very conservative in his assessment of what eye therapy can and cannot do, yet he agrees that it can help 'some' until my son is old enough for a prescription, if one is warranted. (His vision is 20/20 as well.)

Here is a resource you might check out: PAVE (Parents Active for Vision Education)

Vision disabilities are pretty serious and can affect other aspects of schooling/learning, not just grades or performance. My son went into K with a 504 plan so that his teacher would understand what to look for when his eyes were tired (his behavior changes, we wanted this addressed properly, not as misbehavior but that he needed a break-- kids with eye issues are often labeled as lazy or 'not trying' when their eyes get tired so much faster than typical kids' do.) Knowing more means you can better help your girl.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

My 15 year old did vision therapy a few years ago. He has a visual processing disorder, too, and like your daughter has 20/20 vision. It's interesting to hear our developmental optomemetrist talk about what is going on with his eyes and brain.

I agree with OneAndDone - vision therapy has been around for quite awhile, though it's becoming more well known. My only caveat is that my son's reading tutor and I both believe that what really helped my son most was working with his tutor (she has a master's degree in reading disabilities) week in and week out for the last 6-7 years. We started with her while he was in school and stayed with her once we started homeschooling in 3rd grade. We only did vision therapy about 6 months (?).

I don't think vision therapy is a "waste" though it is quite expensive. I would be willing to give it a shot.

My son now reads on the college level and it makes his tutor and me cry with relief. He has come so far, and worked so hard. He also has a very high IQ, so it boggled my mind when we first started dealing with this. I have the opposite problem (hyperlexic) so it took me a bit of time to understand what he was dealing with. I cannot remember a time when I could not read (my grandma taught me when I was 3) and it broke my heart to watch my son struggle. But the funny thing is he passed me in math a LONG time ago.

If your daughter is like my son this issue will come to a head very soon. In third grade they stop learning to read and instead read to learn. That's when visual processing issues rear their ugly heads (if not sooner).

So my net answer is that I would seriously consider it, along with a tutor who specializes in this issue.

Here is our doctor's web site: http://www.drlampert.com

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

My oldest grandson had vision issues. We knew he needed to get an eye exam and get glasses at a pretty young age. His dad was raising him and kept putting it off. When my grandson went into foster care in 2nd grade my friend took him to the eye doc.

The exam showed that his brain was not even receiving the information sent from his right eye. The images it was sending were so distorted the brain could not process it. So it had just stopped.

He had my friend do the vision therapy with my grandson. He also gave him glasses to wear full time. They worked each night with the glasses and colored sheets over the type written pages of his books, etc...

By the time he was done he no longer even needs reading glasses. His visio has corrected itself and he can read the board and a book within seconds and does not need any assistance.

So I am a firm believer that if the eye doc says they need it and they are right, that means the correct diagnosis and all, then they should do it.

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answers from Kansas City on

We did vision therapy for my youngest son, who was probably 9 at the time. I personally think it was a waste of money. My son had a few social issues and it was very hard for me to get him to comply on a regular basis with all that was required of it. For us, there was quite a bit of "homework" to do for vision therapy, and it did cost a great deal of money too, that my insurance did not pay for. I would think if you looked up some exercises to do with your daughter, the same as a vision therapist could do, that might work too. I know you are not a vision therapist, but I think if you do repetitive exercises just like they do, it might help if she is really needing it.

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answers from Rochester on

check out mercola.com. he has a vision strengthening program. contact him and see what you get from him. : ) Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

If it were my child, I'd give it a try. Since we were young, there's been so many advances in understanding, identifying and treating vision issues. I've seen my MIL struggle with an eye muscle issue which developed as a rare side effect following cataract surgery. Her eye muscle strength has shown vast improvement over the past year.

Like any sort of exercise, it may feel like a 'hassle' or you may wonder for a while if you're really making any progress. But from my point of view, even if I had to make a lot of financial sacrifices (and perhaps time, if necessary to help her do her exercises) for a period of time, I'd give it a good shot. It's her VISION after all. And if if can be improved at all, you will give her a lifetime gift. She may be able to compensate for it now, but for how long will that last? Wouldn't you love for her to be able to focus easily on the faces of her own children one day and not struggle every day if there's something that might be helpful to her?

Explore it further. You may be glad you did. And if it doesn't work, at least you'll know you tried.

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answers from Cleveland on

Dd wore a patch for a while at age 3 but not for lazy eye or for what you are talking about, but it was caught because she was seeing a physical therapist for her toe walking and we had access to an occupational therapists too, who played a lot of games with her to assess her tracking. while her tracking was ok she did have some other issues that have since been resolved.

I actually would "buy" into this type of therapy. and give it a year. after that time if you don't think the pros outway the cost/hassel then so be it, but at least you gave it a shot. Your dd is verbal enough at 8 yo to be able to tell you what she is getting out of it. I'm going to guess that the change will be significant.

just curious anyone else in the family tree have reading issues, that might also be linked to vision problems? I'd be interesteds in that, not saying it's hereditary but just curious, because like you said it's a relatively new field.

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answers from Madison on

My daughter got glasses at the age of 3 for far-sightedness and was also diagnosed with Strabismus. I bought her a special computer program (cost about $48; that's the only amount of money I ever spent on her vision training, and this company and program was recommended to me by her Pediatrician Opthamologist) that was a bit like the old Atari warship game in that she needed to put on these special glasses and then play these games. The games worked with 4-6 different types of spatial eye movements. She hated them; they made her eyes hurt (which they would if her eyes and brain aren't working together). The games allowed her eyes to correct themselves by continual exposure to watching the screen/playing the game. She played the games every day for a few months. Then when I took her to her eye dr appts, I'd take a computer readout of what she'd done for "games," and he was able to tell from the readout how well (or not) she was doing.

It helped. The games helped strengthen her eye muscles enough that she didn't end up needing to have surgery. Which was what we were trying to avoid.

In our daughter's case, you could see the Strabismus but you could not see the issues she was having with focusing. Part of the reason she would cry and say her head hurt (headaches at the age of 3) wasn't just because she needed the glasses to see; it was because her eyes hurt so much from the continual strain she was under to get her eyes to focus properly so that her brain could process what she was seeing.

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answers from New York on

I would go to on ophthalmologist. He is an M.D. I was told my daughter needed it. IMO for the time we went it was a waste of money. She is doing fine in school, so personally, I would not waste my money. Been there done that.

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