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What Is Vision Therapy for Kids?

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A child wearing glasses with lenses that have different tints while performing a vision therapy exercise.

Clear vision is essential for all aspects of a child’s life. It’s involved with learning, extracurricular activities, and everything else they do on a day-to-day basis. But their vision isn’t always perfect—sometimes, challenges with their visual skills may develop, such as crossed eyes or double vision. This is when vision therapy becomes an excellent potential option. But what exactly is vision therapy for kids?

Vision therapy refers to a program involving exercises and equipment designed to improve a person’s visual skills so their vision is working as efficiently as possible. Through the use of special software, tools, and exercises, your child can work closely with a vision therapist or optometrist toward the goal of improving their vision.

Vision Therapy: What Is It?

Vision therapy is a noninvasive, personalized treatment program designed to improve and enhance a person’s visual skills. Vision in children is closely linked to their ability to learn and perform in extracurricular activities, so vision therapy is often prescribed by optometrists to address problems that may hinder a child’s ability to use their eyes effectively.

Unlike traditional glasses or contacts that are designed to correct refractive errors like myopia, vision therapy aims to train and improve the natural connection between your brain and eyes. This can potentially enhance how your brain receives and processes visual information and strengthen your perception of the world around you.

How Does Vision Therapy Work?

During vision therapy sessions, children can engage in a series of exercises tailored to their specific visual needs, which may include:

  • Eye tracking exercises
  • Focusing exercises
  • Visual perception activities
  • Hand-eye coordination tasks
  • Eye teaming and alignment exercises
  • Depth perception training

These sessions are typically conducted under the guidance of a trained vision therapist or eye care professional in a controlled setting—usually their office or a clinical setting. They may use different tools, including:

  • Special lenses
  • Prisms
  • Computer programs or software

By utilizing the tools they have available, they can carefully pinpoint specific visual problems and design exercises to address your child’s visual needs.

What’s the Goal of Vision Therapy?

The primary goal of vision therapy is to improve a child’s visual skills and overall visual health with programs and exercises designed to maximize visual function. Ultimately, vision therapy aims to enhance a child’s ability to use their eyes effectively so they can achieve to their fullest potential in school, sports, and all activities of daily living.

The skills needed to use your eyes and process visual information can be difficult to test without the aid of a comprehensive children’s eye exam, so it’s important to speak with your optometrist about whether or not your child may need vision therapy.

What Are the Benefits of Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy seeks to improve eye coordination, reflexes, crossed eyes, eye tracking, and other common visual skills. By targeting these areas, children can develop the visual skills needed to maximize their efficiency for things like reading, playing piano, and hitting/catching balls in sports.. 

The benefits of vision therapy can lead to a positive impact on a child’s education, emotional well being, their hobbies, and any sports or extracurricular activities they may take part in. It can even improve their reading comprehension, spelling, handwriting, hand-eye coordination, and their ability to sustain visual focus!

How Do You Know Your Child Needs Vision Therapy?

A young girl rubbing her eyes after a long study session in front of her laptop.

With how important vision is to your child’s success, it’s important to recognize the signs that something may be wrong. While every child and their visual situation may be unique, there are common indicators that they may be struggling to see well. 

Some of the signs a child may need vision therapy include:

  • Frequent squinting
  • Rubbing their eyes
  • Difficulty paying attention or concentrating when reading or writing
  • Clumsiness or poor hand-eye coordination
  • Complaints about blurry vision
  • Avoiding reading, writing, or close-up visual tasks
  • Difficulty following instructions or staying on task
  • Difficulty with spelling and reading comprehension

If your child starts to show any of these signs, you should schedule an eye exam with an optometrist or vision therapist so you can learn what’s causing your child’s visual problems. Your eye care team can help determine whether vision therapy could be a good idea to treat any potentially developing problems.

Vision Therapy in Omaha

Your child’s vision is important to every part of their daily life, and we want to help provide support for their eyes. We can work with your child to learn about the visual challenges they may be experiencing and design a personalized vision therapy program based on their needs.

We understand how important your child’s vision is. Book an appointment at Heartland Eye Consultants today to speak with our caring team about your child’s options for vision therapy and other forms of vision support.

Written by Dr. Will Ferguson

Dr. Will Ferguson is originally from Hastings, Nebraska, and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in biological sciences in 2005. He received his Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2009. From there, he went on to earn a fellowship in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development in 2012.

He states, “there is a growing population of children suffering from learning-related visual disorders. It becomes difficult for these children to obtain information through their visual system, and it puts them at a significant disadvantage when compared to their peers. Children in these situations lose one of the most powerful tools needed to be successful in life…opportunity. Developmental vision care is rewarding to me because it offers people the ability to overcome their visual inadequacies and open the door to a future full of possibility.”

Dr. Will Ferguson is an active member of the Nebraska Optometric Association (NOA). Since graduating from the NOA’s Leadership Institute in 2014, he has served on the Board of Directors of both the NOA and the Nebraska Foundation for Children’s Vision. He is the proud recipient of the NOA’s Young OD of the Year award in 2019.

In his free time, Dr. Will enjoys spending time with his wife and 2 daughters, participating in outdoor activities, attending sporting events, and reading books.

More Articles By Dr. Will Ferguson

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is an effective, non-surgical, doctor-supervised treatment that retrains the brain and eyes to work together more efficiently. Rather than compensate for vision problems, vision therapy aims to treat and correct the visual system itself.

Discover how we can help you or your child overcome vision problems such as strabismus and amblyopia, and build a greater sense of confidence. Take our vision therapy quiz today!

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