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20/20 Vision Does Not Always Mean Normal

3A31E1756413332CF423305D64C885A6The following is a true story about a local child who struggled with schoolwork due to a short attention span and a poor attitude about school. After vision therapy with a developmental optometrist, David’s grades and attitude toward school improved, as well as his ability to play sports and enjoy life more fully. With the names changed, this true life account is taken from the case files of Dr. Julie Steinhauer of Vision For Life in Glen Carbon, IL.

“David was having a hard time with school. He struggled just to get through the day and was exhausted when he came home. He spent twice as long doing his homework and became very frustrated with school and his ability to do well. I knew something was wrong. He had always been a very happy child and did very well in school. Of course, that was before he was really required to do a lot of reading. When we had his vision checked, everything seemed normal. Little did we know, [20/20 doesn’t necessarily mean a child’s vision is normal].” – David’s mother.

At the end of second grade, David was given a developmental vision evaluation at Vision For Life. He scored an alarming 43 of 72 for symptoms which can indicate vision problems. Some of the difficulties he had included:

  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Always says “I can’t” before trying
  • Short attention span
  • Avoids reading
  • Loses place when reading
  • Skips lines or words, repeats lines when reading
  • Trouble copying proper sequence from blackboard
  • Words blur or run together when reading
  • Misaligns numbers
  • Writes uphill or downhill

David was also sad, frustrated and moody about school. He took a very long time to complete homework and was exhausted afterwards. He even developed mouth sores from the stress of trying so hard. His mom was near the breaking point of trying to figure out what was wrong with him. After a thorough developmental vision exam, it was discovered David had multiple vision problems, including convergence insufficiency, strabismus, suppression, and trouble with visual discrimination and memory. These issues are some of the most common vision problems people can have and not be aware of.

These diagnoses meant David’s eyes were not focusing together, and one eye was doing most of the work, causing stress, a short attention span and exhaustion from the effort. Because of this, he had trouble comprehending what he was reading, making everything unnecessarily difficult for him. David’s frustration affected all levels of his learning, as well as his ability to play sports, which required eye-hand coordination.

Nearly 1 of every 4 children has a vision problem which causes them to perform below their ability in school. Because most children are not taken to the doctor for a developmental vision evaluation, their problems often go unheeded. Many children are misdiagnosed with ADHD, due to a short attention span or hyperactivity, which are common symptoms of undetected vision problems.

A regular eye exam is not sufficient to reveal this information, as it is primarily to check distance vision and disease, while devoting only a few minutes to near vision. The majority of your child’s schoolwork is done with his near or reading vision. A thorough evaluation of this will take up to several hours of testing. The average person cannot diagnose these problems by looking at a child’s eyes or watching his performance; nor can an unqualified professional judge reading vision in a few moments. When deciding upon a doctor to examine your child, check for credentials in vision development.

David committed to a program of vision therapy which included games and exercises to help train his eyes to work together properly. Tools such as a balancing board, balls, cards and computer games were used. Had these vision problems remained untreated, David would likely have continued to be an average student who struggled in school and was slightly uncoordinated in sports. It is even possible he would have become a troublemaker later in life due to low self esteem.

After vision therapy was completed, David’s previous score of 43 was cut to 19. These positive symptoms were happily reported:

  • Decreased stress, less frustration
  • Less fatigue, more relaxed
  • Confident, happier, more in control
  • Better relationships with family and friends
  • Improved behavior
  • Better grades in school
  • Homework easier and takes less time
  • Follows directions better
  • Enjoys hobbies and sports
  • Is a more positive person overall

“David began to excel in his schoolwork and came home from school with energy to play and study. Homework slowly became much easier for him, and his reading comprehension improved greatly. He took on basketball in the fall, received his junior black belt in karate and is starting to play tennis. He has grown so much in the last year, and we couldn’t be prouder. For anyone who thinks their child is struggling in school, showing signs of depression or not being themselves, please consider this program. It’s a journey that will change your life and most importantly your child’s life.” – David’s mother

There is not a better time or reason to have your child’s vision thoroughly evaluated, particularly if your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms or trouble with schoolwork. A complete visual evaluation by a developmental optometrist can reveal if vision problems are the cause of homework difficulties or behavioral issues. Vision therapy can improve your child’s life, as well as your own, so why wait?