Developmental Optometry

 

A field with enormous implications for helping kids with learning problems is Developmental Optometry. You may want to refer learners for testing if you suspect that some of their problem with reading/writing is that they are having these types of vision problems.

 

Developmental/behavioral optometrist and researcher Robert Lederman works in Israel, diagnosing and treating vision/brain problems that affect reading ability, beyond those handled by standard optometrists.

 

Robert Lederman's Vision Center is located at Keren Hayesod 19, Jerusalem, phone: (02) 623-4888, Email: lederman66@bezeq.net . The Vision Center website, where you can see further details and read success stories of people whom he has diagnosed and treated, is www.ledermanvision.com. Dr. Lederman lectures periodically, in English or Hebrew. Call the office for dates of upcoming lectures.

 

Lederman says that a significant proportion (60%) of children who have learning problems also have vision problems, EVEN IF they have “20/20” or “6/6” vision. Many of these vision problems are currently going undiagnosed and untreated because there are not enough people with the skills to diagnose and treat them. He passionately believes that we could save these kids, their families, and the education system a lot of aggravation, and help the kids to fulfill their potential far more effectively, if we would identify and correct these vision problems early on. He describes and gives vivid demonstrations of a full range of visual functioning problems: visual processing and eye teaming, focusing, and tracking. He makes some extremely persuasive points:

-         He uses a metaphor: If a computer is not working, either the keyboard or the processing unit could be broken. The first thing to check is the keyboard to verify that information is being delivered correctly to the processing unit. The input device is easier to fix. If you fix the keyboard first, you get an accurate assessment of the processing problem.

The parallel is that kids who, for example, are farsighted or having eye teaming or tracking problems may get headaches when they try to focus on a book, so they get restless if they try to do it for long, and their handwriting is a mess – which appears to teachers, doctors, and parents as a short attention span. They are misdiagnosed as ADHD and put onto Ritalin too soon, when vision correction could solve the problem.

One can look through lenses to get the feeling of what the child experiences; I wouldn’t read either if my eyes and brain were under that kind of strain.

 

-         The only standard vision tests done in school are distance vision: can the child read the board? This does not identify whether the child can properly focus up close for reading or writing, or can switch back and forth from distance to close-up focus, as is required in a classroom.

 

-         Ophthalmologists and neurologists do not necessarily know how to do this diagnosis and vision therapy. They may not check for all the possible types of vision problems, and therefore miss some.

 

-         There is evidently a lot of controversy and resistance to the kind of evaluations he does, for the usual reasons: vested interests, cost, lack of research results.

 

This type of vision testing and therapy should be expanded in Israel. Lederman says that optometrists need training in what to look for and how to correct it. Once qualified optometrists are in place, they can carry out a program of screening and therapy.

 

There are a number of web sites where you can research the subject further:

 www.covd.org (College of Optometrists in Vision Development)

 

www.childrensvision.com  -“ If your child is struggling in school, having difficulty reading, or finding it hard to remain on task, the cause may be an undetected vision problem, even if your child's eyesight is 20/20.  The goal of this web site is to educate parents and teachers about frequently overlooked vision problems in the hopes of helping those children who struggle unnecessarily because of undiagnosed vision disorders.  In fact, many of these children are often suspected of having learning disabilities, dyslexia, or attention deficits when the real culprit is their vision.  We invite you to explore the information presented in this site to learn more.  “   

www.pave-eye.com/vision  (Parents Active for Vision in Education) – “P.A.V.E.® was founded by parents and teachers with children in their homes and classrooms who had suffered the effects of undiagnosed vision problems. After years of searching for answers to their children's learning problems, their children were finally diagnosed and successfully treated by a Developmental/Behavioral Optometrist through a form of treatment called VISION THERAPY ! “

 

www.OEP.org (Optometric Extension Program)