What are Developmental Vision Skills?

Good vision goes beyond seeing 20/20. A child with clarity of eyesight, and good functioning eyes can still have vision-related learning difficulties.
As your child grows, their visual perceptual processing skills develop gradually as well. A child must learn how to not only ‘see’ the world, but ‘understand’ the world that is around them by processing the information that is sent to the brain from the eyes so that they can learn effectively. They must accurately interpret what they are seeing.
The skills required to do this includes:

Delays in developmental vision skills can lead to:

  • Delays in school progress in areas such as reading, writing, spelling, maths
  • Trouble learning left and right
  • Reverses in letters and numbers
  • Poor reading ability- misreads words, trouble learning sight words, poor comprehension
  • Messy writing
  • Troubles with spelling
  • Slow at copying and completing worksheets and copying from the board
  • Can respond orally but not in writing.
  • Trouble learning basic maths concepts

What Is Developmental Vision Therapy?

As the majority of classroom learning is visually orientated, developmental vision skills is vital for the child to be able to learn well. These skills help children to be able to interpret and accurately process in their brain what their eyes are seeing and can be learned and practised.

Developmental vision therapy uses a tailored program and one on one in clinic consultations to train children to improve their cognitive visual abilities to their age appropriate level. This helps them to improve their ability to interpret and organise the visual information they see.

What is the scientific research supporting vision therapy?

There is a link between under-developed vision information processing skills and learning

  • Our of 87 children with severe language and reading problems, 50% was found to have visual and visual-perceptual problems,
  • Research of children from second to fourth grade showed a strong correlation of below average visual memory to poorer reading, maths and overall academic achievement.
  • In another study with children from 7-9 years, poor visual motor integration is significantly related to worse academic performance.

Studies have demonstrated improvement in children with learning difficulties with developmental vision therapy.

  • A group for 40 poor achieving student was given vision therapy. Compared to a group without vision therapy, there was a significant improvement in areas such as reading comprehension, speech patterns and school performance.

Vision Therapy: Not Just Eye Exercises

Contrary to common belief, vision therapy is not used to strengthen eye muscles, but to improve the coordination and efficient functioning and processing of the visual system. It is a highly effective, non-surgical treatment for many visual problems such as strabismus, amblyopia, convergence, focussing, tracking, and learning difficulties.

Our visual system uses our eyesight, visual pathway, and brain all together to direct our actions; such as reading and writing. Therefore lacking necessary visual skills or information processing will compromise our ability to perform these actions.

Vision therapy provides the necessary experience to develop these visual skills and process the visual information the brain receives from eye eyes correctly. As a result, a person becomes able to use their visual system efficiently; not just in vision therapy activities, but in their everyday lives. This is achieved by a customised vision therapy program.

What Is Involved In Vision Therapy?

Following a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist may identify a visual problem and prescribe vision therapy as a treatment. Each program of vision therapy is designed and tailored to suit the specific needs of the individual, both in terms of their visual profile and their goals. Diagnostic testing, training procedures and the use of lenses and prisms may be integral components of the successful treatment of a vision problem.

The duration of a course of vision therapy will vary depending on the nature and severity of the problem being treated and the specific needs of the individual.  Most programs last 6-12 months but more complex issues can take longer to treat.

The patient will meet with the vision therapist once a week for 45 min for the duration of the program and will be prescribed activities to be practised at home for 20 min per day.

Success of the therapy program depends not only on the motivation of the individual and parents involved, but also their compliance with prescribed home activities.

Outcomes of Vision Therapy

When your visual system is able to align, track, focus, and process what it sees the right way, a whole new experience is discovered. You can expect to emerge from the vision therapy program which a much improved vision from that you started with. You may find (but not limited to):

Improved visual skills such as eye tracking, focusing and teaming

Improved developmental vision skills such as hand eye coordination, visual memory, visual spatial skills

Improved reading level and speed, handwriting, spelling, and learning maths concepts

Improved learning ability

You may be interested in checking out some case studies and success stories.