Super Bowl Star Larry Fitzgerald Gives Parents Advice on Vision Therapy



AURORA, OH–(Marketwire – July 24, 2009) – Arizona Cardinals 2008 NFC West Champions’ wide-receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, is helping eye doctors spread the word to parents that vision problems can interfere with a child’s ability to pay attention, read and learn. “Even if you have been told your child has perfect vision or 20/20 vision, your child could still be at-risk of having a learning-related vision problem,” warns Fitzgerald.
  

Do you have a child who takes forever to do homework? Or hates to read? Learning-related vision problems directly affect how we learn, read, or do close work.

  The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) launched their annual campaign, August is National Children’s Vision & Learning month, to educate the public on the steps they can take to ensure their children aren’t struggling with reading and learning because of undiagnosed vision problems.

“Parents don’t realize that you need over 15 visual skills to succeed in reading, learning, sports, and in life. Seeing ’20/20′ is just one of those visual skills,” says Fitzgerald.

 

 During the many pre- and post-Super Bowl press interviews, Fitzgerald explained that one of the keys to his success was having vision therapy as a child. He had a vision problem that was making it difficult to pay attention in school and his grandfather, Dr. Robert Johnson, a developmental optometrist in Chicago, Illinois, diagnosed the vision problem and the appropriate treatment.

 Fitzgerald went through vision therapy under his aunt’s guidance, Dr. Stephanie Johnson-Brown, who is currently the executive director of the Plano Child Development Center, a not-for-profit vision care service corporation which was co-founded by her father, Dr. Johnson, in 1959, which specializes in vision education and the identification and remediation of vision development problems in children and adults.

 According to a report from the New Jersey Commission on Business Efficiency of the Public School, “Undiagnosed and untreated vision related learning problems are significant contributors to early reading difficulties and ultimately to special education classification.”

 Fitzgerald is joining COVD this year to help spread the word that 20/20 is NOT perfect vision and that if your children are struggling with reading you need to take them to see a developmental optometrist. You can visit COVD’s website to find a developmental optometrist near you.

 “Vision problems can have a serious impact on a child’s education. Don’t wait to see if this next school year will be better, take action today!” Fitzgerald encourages parents.

 Convergence insufficiency, one of the most common vision disorders that interferes with reading, was recently the focus of a national study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Eye Institute. This is a vision problem where the two eyes don’t work together in unison the way they are supposed to when one is reading. The result can make reading very difficult.

 While at least one out of every 20 school-age children is impacted by convergence insufficiency, there are other visual abnormalities to be considered. It is estimated that over 60% of problem learners have undiagnosed vision problems contributing to their difficulties.

 The good news is the majority of these vision problems can be treated with a program of optometric vision therapy. The study by the NEI found that in-office vision therapy was the best treatment for convergence insufficiency.

 The five most common signs that a vision problem may be interfering with your child’s ability to read and learn are:

1.  Skips lines, rereads lines
2.  Poor reading comprehension
3.  Takes much longer doing homework than it should take
4.  Reverses letters like b's into d's when reading
5.  Has a short attention span with reading and schoolwork
Any one of these symptoms is a sign of a possible vision problem.  

Not all eye doctors test for learning-related vision problems, so it is important for parents to ask the right questions. Call your eye doctor’s office and ask the following two questions:

1.  Do you test for learning-related vision problems?
2.  Do you provide an in-office vision therapy program when indicated, or
     will you refer me to someone who does?

Not Autistic or Hyperactive. Just Seeing Double at Times



Not Autistic or Hyperactive. Just Seeing Double at Times

 

By LAURA NOVAK

Published: September 11, 2007


Correction Appended

As an infant, Raea Gragg was withdrawn and could not make eye contact. By preschool she needed to smell and squeeze every object she saw.

 

 

Thor Swift for
The New York Times

 

Raea Gragg, 9, needed therapy to help her eyes work together.

“She touched faces and would bring everything to mouth,” said her mother, Kara Gragg, of Lafayette, Calif. “She would go up to people, sniff them and touch their cheeks.”

Specialists conducted a battery of tests. The possible diagnoses mounted: autism spectrum disorder, neurofibromatosis, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorder.

A behavioral pediatrician prescribed three drugs for attention deficit and depression. The only constant was that Raea, now 9, did anything she could to avoid reading and writing.

Though she had already had two eye exams, finding her vision was 20/20, this year a school reading specialist suggested another. And this time the optometrist did what no one else had: he put his finger on Raea’s nose and moved it in and out. Her eyes jumped all over the place.

Within minutes he had the diagnosis: convergence insufficiency, in which the patient sees double because the eyes cannot work together at close range.

Experts estimate that 5 percent of school-age children have convergence insufficiency. They can suffer headaches, dizziness and nausea, which can lead to irritability, low self-esteem and inability to concentrate.

Doctors and teachers often attribute the behavior to attention disorders or seek other medical explanations. Mrs. Gragg said her pediatrician had never heard of convergence insufficiency.

Dr. David Granet, a professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, said: “Everyone is familiar with A.D.H.D. and A.D.D., but not with eye problems, especially not with convergence insufficiency. But we don’t want to send kids for remedial reading and education efforts if they have an eye problem. This should be part of the protocol for eye doctors.”

In 2005, Dr. Granet studied 266 patients with convergence insufficiency. Nearly 10 percent also had diagnoses of attention deficit or hyperactivity — three times that of the general population. The reverse also proved true: examining the hospital records of 1,700 children with A.D.H.D., Dr. Granet and colleagues found that 16 percent also had convergence insufficiency, three times the normal rate.

“When five of the symptoms of A.D.H.D. overlap with C.I.,” he said, “how can you not step back and say, Wait a minute?”

Dr. Eric Borsting, an optometrist and professor at the Southern California College of Optometry who has also studied the links between vision and attention problems, agreed. “We know that kids with C.I. are more likely to have problems like loss of concentration when reading and trouble remembering what they read,” he said. “Doctors should look at it when there’s a history of poor school performance.”

Dr. Stuart Dankner, a pediatric ophthalmologist in Baltimore and an assistant clinical professor at Johns Hopkins, said that children should be tested for convergence difficulty, but cautioned that it was not the cause of most attention and reading problems.

Dr. Dankner recommended an overall assessment by a psychologist or education specialist. “An eye exam should be done as an adjunct,” he said, “because even if the child has convergence difficulty, they will usually also have other problems that need to be addressed.”

Doctors recommend a dilated eye exam and a check of eye teaming and focusing skills. Testing includes using a pen or finger to test for the “near point of convergence,” as well as a phoropter, which uses lenses and prisms to test the eyes’ ability to work together.

There is no consensus on how to treat convergence insufficiency. Next spring, the National Eye Institute will announce the results of a $6 million randomized clinical trial measuring the benefits of vision therapy in a doctor’s office versus home-based therapy.

For Raea Gragg, the treatment was relatively simple. For nine months she wore special glasses that use prisms to help the eyes converge inward. She then had three months of vision therapy. She has just entered fourth grade and is reading at grade level.

“Raea didn’t know how to describe it because that’s all she’s ever known,” her mother said. “She felt like she had been telling us all along that she couldn’t see, but nobody listened.”

Correction: October 4, 2007

 

An article in Science Times on Sept. 11 about convergence insufficiency, in which a patient sees double because the eyes cannot work together at close range, misidentified the specialty of the doctor who diagnosed and treated the problem in Raea Gragg. The doctor, Carl Hirsch, who was not identified in the article, is an optometrist, not an ophthalmologist.

Treatment for Lazy Eye

Older Children Can Benefit From Treatment For Childhood’s Most Common Eye Disorder; lazy eye!

 Surprising results from a nationwide clinical trial show that many children age seven through 17 with amblyopia (lazy eye) may benefit from treatments that are more commonly used on younger children.

http://www.nei.nih.gov/news/pressreleases/041105.asp

Mayo Clinic MN says best treatment for CI is

Mayo Clinic researchers, as part of a nine-site study, helped discover the best of three currently-used treatments for convergence insufficiency in children. Convergence refers to the natural ability of the eyes to focus and align while viewing objects up close. Children with convergence insufficiency tend to have blurred or double vision or headaches and corresponding issues in reading and concentrating, which ultimately impact learning. The findings, published today in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology, show children improve faster with structured therapy sessions in a doctor’s office, with reinforcement eye exercises at home.

www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/125351.php

NYTIMES SUNDAY MAGAZINE

Brian Dennis at a vision therapy session in Bethesda, Md.

By JUDITH WARNER
Published: March 10, 2010

If you’re the parent of a child who’s having trouble learning or behaving in school, you quickly find yourself confronted with a series of difficult choices.

You can do nothing — and watch your child flounder while teachers register their disapproval. Or you can get help, which generally means, first, an expensive and time-consuming evaluation, then more visits with more specialists, intensive tutoring, therapies, perhaps, or, as is often the case with attention issues, drugs.

For many parents — particularly the sorts of parents who are skeptical of mainstream medicine and of the intentions of what one mother once described to me as “the learning-disability industrial complex” — this experience is an exercise in frustration and alienation.

LINK TO REST OF THE ARTICLE…

Samantha Contis for The New York Times

Dr. Sue Barry Interview on NPR

Dr. Sue Barry tells how she achieved binocular vision after being told she was too old to do anything about her strabismus.  Sue, a neurobiologist, had been cross-eyed since early infancy. Though she had operations as a young child to correct her eyes’ appearance, they still sent conflicting messages to her brain. As a result, she viewed the world in a flat plane and had no stereoscopic 3-D vision

Sue did vision therapy at the age of 48 years old with a Fellow of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. She achieved ‘stereovision’!

Click here to listen to this program with Terry Gross on NPR.

Sue’s book, Fixing My Gaze, will be released in paperback from Amazon.

Sue is a master at sharing her beautiful story on how her world has transformed since improving her vision.