Our daughters’ eyesight seems to have a mind of it’s own. Unfortunately, as she is growing, so are her eyes. They are getting longer and as a result, her prescription is increasing. Since we are patching her stronger eye full time and doing a TON of hand-eye coordination activities with her, I felt like we have hit a road block. What else can we do???
Here are some additional options, which all seem to have the generic term “Vision Therapy,” and are options to consider and talk over with your child’s primary Ophthalmologist. Please remember, my credentials are that of a parent who wants the best for your child and these are the “therapy” choices that are available to us. If you have found out more choices, or have more information, please feel free to add on. This is just a brief post on what I have learned in the past couple weeks.
- Occupational Therapy (OT); When I asked our Pediatric Ophthalmologist what else we can do , she said that maybe it is time to try occupational therapy and referred us to one that has training and is familiar with the needs of children with vision issues. OT is luckily covered by our insurance and ends up to be around $15 per session. We just completed our initial evaluation last week.
- Home Visits from an early intervention specialist We were connected to our home visitation specialist by calling our local public school systems early learning division. This service is free as it is connected with the public school system. Qualifying sight and vision issues vary for each city and program. Most will accept only moderate or severe vision in BOTH eyes. We are only qualifying to receive “temporary services” I am considering attending the trainings this year in our neighboring city for these organizations.
- VIISA http://www.skihi.org/VIISA.html
- SKI*Hi http://www.skihi.org/
- Vision Therapy with a trained Optometrist. This is some thing that our OT suggested we look into. I believe it is a “therapy session” where the kids are give computer programs that progress in difficulty in an intense 30 minute session. This is NOT covered by insurances and can get expensive. Some Optometrists require the children to come each week, others are more flexible. This is the website of one closest to us. http://www.visionsource-brighteyes.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=site.services we still have not talked to the Pediatric Ophthalmologist about it. I won’t rule it out, but we have not committed to it yet. I am still researching it more.
For adapting learning at home, we have also found a great website for materials and activities www.aph.org American Printing House for the Blind. Here is their online catalog http://shop.aph.org/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Home_10001_11051
I am the office manager at Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, the vision therapy provider you reference in your blog post. You are absolutely correct that different developmental specialists provide therapy than can improve visual skill. I do encourage you to talk to different professionals to determine what is right for you.
Vision Therapy is useful for treating specific diagnoses involving the muscles and nerves of the eyes, not as a replacement for wearing glasses. When describing optometric vision therapy, it sounds like your are referring to the HTS computer vision therapy program, which is a supplemental activity, but only a very small part of vision therapy. For patients with amblyopia, active vision therapy helps develop visual skills more quickly and effectively than patching alone. Patients are scheduled for one-on-one therapy sessions to improve skills such as tracking, the ability to shift focus, and the coordination between the two eyes.
Some doctors require 3-4 sessions per week; some recommend 1 session per week plus homework activities. While we do use computer programs, these are usually reserved for the home activities, so that the office therapy includes diverse visual activities to challenge and motivate the patients.
Most doctors of optometry who do vision therapy have had extensive training and residencies in VT, and there is a lot of evidence supporting the efficacy of VT in the optometric literature. However, many insurance companies consider this type of therapy to be elective or not medically necessary, so they don’t cover it.
The success of therapy depends on the motivation of the patient; but we have found all of our patients to show improvement in the visual skills of both eyes, tracking ability, hand-eye coordination, ability to read for extended periods of time, depth perception, etc.
If you would like more information on vision therapy, you can check out the doctor’s blog at http://www.brighteyesnews.com or the educational website http://www.optometrists.org. You can also come by the office to talk to us in more detail if you like.
I know just how you feel amomofelly! I, too, felt like there should be more that I should be doing to help improve our daughter’s vision. We have been receiving services through an organization called Georgia PINES since Ellie is 1. A lady who is trained specifically in helping children with vision disabilities came to our house once a week to work with Ellie and also to give me activities to work on with her. Now that she is three, we are going through establishing an IEP for her which may qualify her for some OT or other services at the public schools. For about six months now, we have also been doing vision therapy. We only go twice a month as this is an out of pocket expense for us. So far, we have not done anything on the computer. We get homework assignments of activities to do about two hours every day while patching. In the office visits, there are a lot of eye teaming skills as well as helping Ellie learn to use both eyes versus just the better eye. We do a lot of activities with the red/green glasses as well as a lot of things for near to far, far to near vision. I think it has helped Ellie tremendously and it has been worth every penny, though I do wish that insurance companies would see the benefit of this therapy! Be prepared that your PO may not think that vision therapy is beneficial. I got a call from my PO discouraging me from using vision therapy as in her opinion, I would be wasting my time and my money. But, in my opinion, if something I am doing isn’t working in improving her vision, then I need to move on to something else. All the best to your little Elly! I know she will continue to make progress!
amomofelly: Please post whether or not you decide to pursue Vision Therapy with a trained Optometrist. And, if so, how it’s going.
I’m considering VT for my 8 year old daughter who has refractive amblyopia. The acuity in her amblyopic eye has improved significantly, but her stereo/3D vision has not. That’s why I’m interested in VT. I’ve read that several parents consider it and perhaps even pursue it, but I am not finding many posts regarding outcome, successful or not. Thanks!
It seems that the benefits really are individualized, as each program is different. We are currently seeing an OT just for her vision once a week and on consultation with a vision specialist through the FLorida School of Deaf and Blind. Since the VT is not covered by insurance, no statistics that I can find, and it would be a 2 hour drive each way for us – we chose not to pursue it at this time. With the full time patching, OT and completing the excersizes given to us as homework to do at home every day – my daughters vision has improved significantly!!!!!!! We are very excited =) If it is something you are considering, I would strongly suggest you to request a visit with a VT in your area and have them walk through what they would do with your child, how they would measure success, and what gauruntee do they offer. Keep us posted!