New Research Gives Hope to Children With Common Reading-Related Vision Disorder

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 General News
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AURORA, Ohio, Oct. 14 On Monday, the National Institute ofHealth released a study showing that there is a more effective treatment forchildren who have a common reading-related vision disorder. Convergenceinsufficiency (CI) is an eye condition which leads to some or all of thefollowing: loss of concentration, slow reading, eye strain, headaches, blurredor double vision and ultimately impacts learning.

CI, a common childhood eye muscle coordination problem, is often missed inmany routine vision screenings because these screenings test distance vision,not the visual skills required for reading. For this reason many children canbe misdiagnosed with learning disabilities when, in fact, they have atreatable eye condition.

The NIH study was a collaborative study with both optometrists andophthalmologists involved in 9 sites throughout the United States. The studyincluded 221 children ages 9 to 17 and compared different forms of treatment,including the most commonly prescribed "pencil push-ups" in addition to aplacebo therapy activity. After 12 weeks of treatment, nearly 75 percent ofthe children that were given office-based Vision Therapy along with at-homereinforcement exercises achieved normal vision or had significantly fewersymptoms of CI. While there have been hundreds of optometric studies over theyears, this is the first scientific study to look at these treatmentprotocols.

It also found that two commonly prescribed home-based therapy programswere no more effective than placebo treatment. Office-based Vision Therapy isprovided by trained Vision Therapists who traditionally work in optometricoffices under the direction of an optometrist.

"This study shows that, once diagnosed, CI can be successfully treatedwith office-based vision therapy by a trained therapist along with at-homereinforcement. This is very encouraging news for parents, educators, andanyone who may know a child with CI," said principle investigator MitchellScheiman, O.D., of Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University.

Pamela Happ, Executive Director of the College of Optometrists in VisionDevelopment (an international non-profit membership association of eye careprofessionals devoted to developmental vision care and vision therapy), iselated with the study results. "Many eye care professionals, as well asparents, doubted which treatment options for convergence insufficiency wereeffective. Now this definitive, double blind, masked, placebo-controlled studydemonstrates conclusively that in-office vision therapy by trainedprofessionals is the most effective solution." She now hopes many more eyedoctors will either refer patients who have CI to optometrists who providevision therapy or get the education necessary to provide vision therapy intheir offices.

Vision therapy is an advanced optometric specialty service that has beenin existence for over 70 years. All optometrists learn about vision therapyin optometry school, but most optometrists who provide vision therapy receivepost graduate education in the subject.

This study is particularly important because it showed that treatment cansignificantly reduce symptoms when a child reads which may impact on readingperformance.

"We found decreases in the frequency and severity of symptoms that mightmake schoolwork more difficult. Parents reported that they saw a significantdecrease in their child having difficulty completing schoolwork at school orat home, appearing inattentive or easily distracted when completingschoolwork, and avoiding schoolwork. In addition, parents reported that theyworried less about their child's school performance," added Scheiman.

When a child struggles with reading and learning it costs their parentsdearly in terms of time, money and frustration. In addition, there aresignificant costs to the schools that inadvertently misdiagnose this problem.

When a vision problem is at the root of a child's difficulties, thesymptoms can be easily detected, if you know what to look for. For an in-depthsymptom checklist, more information on vision problems that block learning, orto find a doctor who provides vision therapy, go to:

About COVD

The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) is aninternational, non-profit optometric membership organization that provideseducation, evaluation and board certification programs in behavioral anddevelopmental vision care, optometric vision therapy and visionrehabilitation. The organization is comprised of doctors of optometry, visiontherapists and other vision specialists. For more information on convergenceinsufficiency, learning-related vision problems, vision therapy, COVD and ouropen access journal, Optometry & Vision Development, please visit Pamela R. Happ, CAE Executive Director College of Optometrists in Vision Development 1-888-268-3770

SOURCE College of Optometrists in Vision Development

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