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3 Reasons Why You Should Kickstart the New Year With Vision Therapy

holidays mug blog imageIt’s that time of year again when we sit down with a pumpkin spice latte in hand and think of a resolution we can take upon ourselves for the new year. Here at Omni Vision & Learning Center, we believe that the best resolutions are the ones that positively impact other areas of our lives and enhance our overall quality of life. Vision therapy offers just that! This therapy is made up of a series of customized visual exercises designed to develop or regain visual processing skills.

Vision Therapy is highly effective in treating:

  • Amblyopia, (or “lazy eye”)
  • Strabismus, (or “eye-turn”)
  • Eye movement disorders
  • Focusing disorders
  • Binocular vision problems
  • Vision, balance, and memory problems associated with brain injury

Even those with 20/20 eyesight can benefit from vision therapy because perfect eyesight doesn’t mean perfect vision. Below are the ways in which vision therapy will help you kick-off the new year.

Improve Existing Vision Skills

You’re good at what you do, be it at work, school or sports. But can you do better? By training the eyes and brain to work in unison, you increase your potential for greater performance. Not only will you be more efficient, but performing tasks will become more enjoyable. This especially applies to school-aged children, as their brains are still in rapid development. Vision therapy effectively enables the brain to correctly process information for optimal academic success.

Learn New Skills With Ease

Many people make it their resolution to learn a new skill in the upcoming year but an underlying vision problem can interfere with that. Since learning is 80% visual, vision therapy offers an excellent opportunity to gear up for success! Undiagnosed or untreated vision problems related to convergence and focus can cause memory and reading problems and hinder learning. our optometrists will use an array of tools, such as prisms, specialized lenses, filters, balance beams, and computerized visual activities to train the eye-brain connection and help you learn more efficiently in almost any area that requires vision.

Gain The Confidence You Crave

Whether you’re a pro-athlete or a 4th grader struggling to read, improved vision skills will boost your confidence. This confidence will surely trickle into other areas of your life leading to increased self-esteem.

Start 2020 by empowering yourself or your child with vision therapy. Call Omni Vision & Learning Center to book your appointment today.

Omni Vision & Learning Center serves patients in Monticello, Maple Grove, St Cloud, and , and throughout Minnesota.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
Find Out How We Can Help You!
763-314-0664

Is My Child Too Young for Vision Therapy?

Preschool Children Vision TherapyThe first years of a child’s life are crucial in ensuring the healthy and normal development of various body parts, especially the visual system. As a child’s body grows, so do the eyes. This can cause changes in vision. Keeping a close eye on, well, your child’s eyes, can help ensure that they are developing in a healthy way.

It’s important for parents and teachers to be on the lookout for problems with visual processing, as they can interfere with a child’s academics, social life, and extracurricular endeavors. This is especially evident during the school years when reading, writing, homework, and after-school activities become a part of their normal daily routine.

Even if a child has no refractive errors (such as nearsightedness or farsightedness) and has 20/20 vision, he or she may still have difficulties with visual processing or focus. These types of visual complications are often more difficult to detect, but may still impact various aspects of a child’s development.

When a child’s visual difficulties hinder their learning or social interactions, it may be time to try vision therapy.

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is a personalized regimen of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions. Each patient has unique needs and different degrees of visual health, which is why our optometrists and the team at Omni Vision & Learning Center create a customized vision therapy program to get the best results for your child.

Vision therapy is compared to physical therapy, only for the eyes instead of the entire body. The techniques and exercises can teach the eyes to improve specific areas of vision, such as focus, eye teaming, hand-eye coordination, and visual tracking, among other skills. The doctor may include prisms or special eyeglasses to boost the therapy program.

Most children’s vision therapy takes place in our office and usually once a week. You’ll be instructed to continue some of the exercises at home for 15-20 minutes daily, which will support the in-office treatment.

At What Age Can Children Begin Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is offered to children as young as 6 years of age. Kids can develop problems with visual perception and clarity that aren’t always detected with a standard vision exam or school screening. Of course, every child is different, and the best way to know if they’re ready for vision therapy is to schedule a consultation with our optometrists.

Does Vision Therapy Really Work?

Vision therapy has been proven to improve visual skills and functions in both children and adults. It is an approved treatment by recognized organizations in the medical community, such as the American Optometric Association and the Canadian Association of Optometrists.

Keep in mind that it can take several months to notice significant improvement. Consistency is key. Young children, especially in the toddler years, need a steady routine to achieve the best possible results.

It’s important to note that vision therapy does not fix your child’s learning abilities or correct any refractive errors. The goal is to improve their visual function so that their skills in reading, writing, schoolwork, and social activities are strengthened for a better quality of life.

Contact our optometrists and the knowledgeable staff at Omni Vision & Learning Center to schedule a consultation and see whether vision therapy is right for your child.

our optometrists serves patients in Monticello, Maple Grove, St Cloud, and , and throughout Minnesota.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
Find Out How We Can Help You!
763-314-0664

 

8 Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes

Whether you live in a climate with cold winter weather or you are planning a ski trip up north, winter can be a challenge if you suffer from dry eyes. Dry, cool air, cold winds and even drier indoor heating can cause eye irritation, burning, itchiness and redness, and sometimes even excessively watery eyes as more tears are produced to compensate for the dryness. Many people have a chronic feeling that they have something in their eye and some even experience blurred vision. These symptoms can be debilitating!

Dry eyes is one of the most common complaints eye doctors get from patients during the winter season, especially in the cooler climates. That’s why we’d like to share some tips on how to relieve dry eye discomfort, and how to know when your condition is serious enough to come in for an evaluation.

Tips to Relieve Winter Dry Eyes:

  1. Keep eyes moist using artificial tears or eye drops. You can apply these a few times each day when the eyes are feeling dry or irritated. If over-the-counter drops don’t help or if you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about finding the best drops for you. Since not all artificial tears are the same, knowing the cause of your dry eye will help your eye doctor determine which brand is best suited for your eyes.
  2. Use a humidifier to counteract the drying effects of indoor heaters or generally dry air.
  3. Point car vents or indoor heaters away from your face when the heat is on. Try to keep your distance from direct sources of heating, especially if they blow out the heat.
  4. Drink a lot! Hydrating your body will also hydrate your eyes.
  5. Protect your eyes outdoors with sunglasses or goggles – the bigger the better! Larger, even wrap-around glasses as well as a hat with a wide brim will keep the wind and other elements out of your eyes. If you wear goggles for winter sports, make sure they fit well and cover a large surface area.
  6. Soothe dry eyes using a warm compress and never rub them! Rubbing your eyes will increase irritation and may lead to infection if the hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a digital break. People blink less during screen time which is why extensive computer use can lead to dry eyes. Follow the 20/20/20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds and make sure you blink!
  8. For contact lens wearers: If you wear contact lenses, dry eyes can be particularly debilitating as the contact lenses can cause even further dryness and irritation. Contact lens rewetting drops can help your eyes feel better and may also allow you to see more clearly. Not all eyedrops are appropriate for use with contact lenses, so ask your optometrist which eyedrop is compatible with your contacts and cleaning solution. If rewetting drops don’t help, consider opting for glasses when your dry eyes are bad, and speak to your optometrist about which brands of contact lenses are better for dry eyes. Many people find dry eye improvement when they switch to daily single use contact lenses.

Chronic Dry Eyes or Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tear film, or do not produce the quality of tear film needed to properly keep the eyes moist. While winter weather can make this condition worse, it is often present all year round. If you find that the tips above do not alleviate your discomfort or symptoms, it may be time to see a optometrist to see if your condition requires more effective medical treatment.

School Success through Good Vision

To do well in school, children need a few different things. Along with family support, self-discipline, and resilience, you may be surprised to learn that good vision is a vital part of students’ success. Good vision crosses all subjects – reading, writing, and using computers are just some of the many tasks kids perform at school that require vision.

Good vision is key in that our brains rely on visual information to understand and process our surroundings; this is known as visual processing. Unfortunately, if the brain is receiving faulty information from poor vision, a child’s visual processing can cause a number of problems not necessarily associated with vision, including negatively affecting her memory or visual-spatial understanding, or causing letter and symbol reversal issues.

The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as a “language-based learning disability [and] refers to a cluster of symptoms that result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading.” Although dyslexia is not technically a vision issue, it’s been shown that many people with dyslexia tend to have vision problems more often than those who do not have the learning disability.

In a study that was published by The Journal of the American Medical Association this summer, it was found that school-aged children with developmental dyslexia typically had more vision problems than children without the disability. These issues, including eye tracking (movement), focus problems, and the inability of eyes to move in tandem, showed to be significantly more prevalent in children with dyslexia. While the clinical relevance and possible cause of the higher rate of these issues are still not certain, the findings of this study suggest that these vision problems contribute to reading success, or lack thereof, in children with developmental dyslexia.

Pediatrician and Parent Advocate for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Dr. Debra Walhof, says that “It is important to remember that normal sight may not necessarily be synonymous with normal vision… That being said, if there is a vision problem, it could be preventing the best tutoring and learning methods from working. Now that certainly doesn’t mean every dyslexic child needs vision therapy, however in my opinion, skills such as focusing, tracking, and others are essential foundational tools for reading. In general, if your child has trouble with reading or learning to read, getting a vision evaluation to assess these skills from a qualified Developmental Optometrist would be a smart move.”

If your child struggles with reading and learning, it’s important to first determine if she has a problem with her vision. Learning can be greatly impacted by deficits in any area of vision through visual processing, including the initial acquisition (sight), interpretation, and the actions resulting from this interpretation. Many eye screenings, particularly those done at schools, do not test vision; instead, they simply test sight, or visual acuity.

To ensure your child is being tested for those variables that may dramatically affect learning, it’s important to see a provider who specializes in visual processing and efficiency testing and treatment. To test vision, a provider may look at:

  • Visual acuity (sight)
  • Visual memory
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Speed and ability in focusing near and far
  • Tracking (eye movement)
  • Stereopsis (depth perception)
  • Convergence (the ability of eyes to coordinate and focus inward)
  • Visual discrimination (ability to see detail)

Because vision affects so many parts of our lives, good vision is necessary for young learners, but it can be difficult for parents to know where to turn. Psychiatrist Katherine Donovan watched her daughter, Lily, struggle with reading. Dr. Donovan couldn’t find satisfactory answers even after seeing many learning specialists, who said that her daughter, who couldn’t write legibly or read well at age 12, had fine vision and was simply dyslexic. After success with vision therapy, Dr. Donovan shares that “it absolutely corrected a vision problem which was blocking Lily from being able to learn.” After treating this issue with vision therapy, Lily now considers reading her favorite hobby and no longer needs help with her homework, let alone her prior extensive tutoring.

It is critical that vision tests are comprehensive to ensure children are set up for a lifetime of learning. At Omni Vision & Learning, we are able to provide comprehensive vision testing and vision rehabilitation for those who have vision problems that interfere with learning. Contact us today to set up an appointment and learn more.

August is Vision and Learning Month!

August is here, and with it comes the start of a new school year! Not coincidentally, August also marks Vision and Learning Month.

In 1995, the month of August was declared National Children’s Vision and Learning month. The goal of this observance is to help parents and even educators learn about the link between learning and vision.

Vision and learning are intertwined in that about 80% of what a child learns in school is presented visually. Currently, one in four children have an undiagnosed vision problem, while others have been misdiagnosed to have a learning disability, ADHD, or even laziness – when the underlying issue is vision related. When children are unable to see well, they have a difficult time concentrating and following along in school and at home, which can start a series of poor performance.

Unfortunately, poor performance in the classroom caused by an undiagnosed vision problem can lead to poor self-esteem and even behavior problems – what could have been prevented simply by a comprehensive exam and corrective action can ultimately escalate into pervasive and lingering issues for a child, her classroom, and a family.

Comprehensive eye exams are vital for children because simple school vision screenings may not detect common vision problems. Even if a child has 20/20 vision, problems such as eye tracking, coordination, and focusing may present troubles for learners. When evaluating someone for learning-related vision problems, an optometrist will conduct a thorough assessment of visual functions and eye health. Through this comprehensive check, an optometrist will be able to help a child improve visual function by treating and/or alleviating symptoms. Vision therapy may also be used to help improve issues such as visual processing and visual efficiency. Learning problems such as dyslexia may also require management from other disciplines to help prepare a child for lifelong learning.

It’s also important that, along with checking in on a student’s grades, you check in with their visual performance, as vision can change frequently throughout the year. Common signs of vision problems children may exhibit include:

  • Difficulty recalling what was read
  • Excessive eye rubbing or blinking
  • Covering one eye
  • Short attention span
  • Headaches and eye strain
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Holding reading close to the face

Proper remediation of learning-related vision issues makes it easier and more likely for children to perform to their fullest potential. So between shopping for school supplies and new clothes as the school year approaches, be sure to make an appointment for your child to have a comprehensive eye exam.

Not Just a Trick of the Eye: Investigating “The Glow” (Leukocoria)

We’ve all fallen victim to the dreaded “red eye”: that nasty crimson light that appears in pupils when photos are taken with a flash. While there is a simple and safe explanation for red eyes in photos – they appear when a camera captures light reflected from the retinas due to the flash – a similar effect known as “the Glow” is not so benign.

The Glow, or leukocoria, describes a reflection that appears from the eye’s retina; in flash photography, it appears as a yellow, white, or opaque spot in the pupil. About one in 80 kids will display The Glow by the time they turn five. Unlike the innocent annoyance of red eye in photos, The Glow can be indicative of more than 20 types of eye conditions and diseases. The Glow can indicate conditions that are present from birth, such as congenital tumors, disorders, and disease. It can also help detect malformations or dysfunction in the eyes, infections, and cancer.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), the most prevalent childhood conditions are vision disorders, and more than one out of ten kids is at risk of undetected vision issues. Fortunately, if detected early, most disorders and diseases of the eye can be prevented, treated, and even cured.

Checking for Leukocoria

While The Glow can’t be diagnosed by the untrained, it can be detected. Here are some ways to check your photos for The Glow:

  • Check photos where flash was used and red eye reduction features were not used
  • The Glow may not always be present, so review several photos, especially where your child is directly looking at the camera
  • The Glow presents as a yellow, white, or opaque spot in the pupil; if you see it once, look for more evidence of it
  • If you see The Glow twice in the same eye, don’t panic! Make an appointment with your optometrist, and make sure your child gets a comprehensive exam, including a red reflex test
  • Be sure you bring your child in for regular comprehensive eye exams, and spread the word about The Glow to friends and family who have young children

80% of Childhood Blindness is Preventable or Curable

In most cases where The Glow is identified, it’s a family friend or parent who first notices the abnormality in photos. The Glow and its associated disorders and diseases can be frightening, but 80% of childhood blindness is preventable or curable, so taking steps to protect your child’s vision and eye health is paramount. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s eye health or vision, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Understanding Eye Color

eyes green close up woman

Eye color is a hereditary trait that depends on the genes of both parents, as well as a little bit of mystery. The color of the eye is based on the pigments in the iris, which is a colored ring of muscle located at the center of the eye (around the pupil) that helps to control the amount of light that comes into your eye. Eye color falls on a spectrum of color that can range from dark brown, to gray, to green, to blue, with a whole lot of variation in between. 

Genetics

The genetics of eye color are anything but straightforward. In fact children are often born with a different eye color than either of their parents. For some time the belief was that two blue-eyed parents could not have a brown-eyed child, however, while it’s not common, this combination can and does occur. Genetic research in regards to eye color is an ongoing pursuit and while they have identified certain genes that play a role, researchers still do not know exactly how many genes are involved and to what extent each gene affects the final eye color.

The Iris

Looking at it simply, the color of the eye is based on the amount of the pigment melanin located in the iris. Large amounts of melanin result in brown eyes, while blue eyes result from smaller amounts of the pigment. This is why babies that are born with blue eyes (who often have smaller amounts of melanin until they are about a year old) often experience a darkening of their eye color as they grow and develop more melanin in the iris. In adults across the globe, the most common eye color worldwide is brown, while lighter colors such as blue, green and hazel are found predominantly in the Caucasian population. 

Abnormal Eye Color

Sometimes the color of a person’s eyes are not normal. Here are some interesting causes of this phenomenon.

Heterochromia, for example, is a condition in which the two eyes are different colors, or part of one eye is a different color. This can be caused by genetic inconsistencies, issues that occur during the development of the eye, or acquired later in life due to an injury or disease. 

Ocular albinism is a condition in which the eye is a very light color due to low levels of pigmentation in the iris, which is the result of a genetic mutation. It is usually accompanied by serious vision problems. Oculocutaneous albinism is a similar mutation in the body’s ability to produce and store melanin that affects skin and hair color in addition to the eyes.

Eye color can also be affected by certain medications. For example, a certain glaucoma eye drop is known to darken light irises to brown, as well as lengthen and darken eyelashes.

Eye Color – It’s More Than Meets the Eye

It is known that light eyes are more sensitive to light, which is why it might be hard for someone with blue or green eyes to go out into the sun without sunglasses. Light eyes have also shown to be a risk factor for certain conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  

Color Contact Lenses

While we can’t pick our eye color, we can always play around with different looks using colored contact lenses. Just be sure that you get a proper prescription for any contact lenses, including cosmetic colored lenses, from an eye doctor! Wearing contact lenses that were obtained without a prescription could be dangerous to your eyes and your vision.