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Vision Therapy in Infants and Children: Does It Work?

toddler games vision therapy

Types of Vision Therapy Techniques Used in Infants and Toddlers

Fun is the focus of vision therapy sessions for young children. Although vision therapy sessions are tailored to each child's needs, your child's sessions may include:

  • Tracking Exercises. The ability to follow moving objects is essential to good vision at any age. Your vision therapist will use creative ways to encourage even very young babies to follow moving objects with their eyes, such as passing a brightly colored toy train through their field of vision, complete with sound effects.
  • Games. Games may be as simple as rolling a ball back and forth to an infant, popping bubbles or catching balloons. Toddlers may work on reeling in brightly colored fish with a magnetic fishing pole or catching a ball while balancing on a balance board.
  • Light Boards and Computers. Light boards and computerized games and activities are often used to help children overcome issues with eye teaming, eye movement, eye coordination, convergence and other issues.

You are never too young to have problems with your vision, unfortunately. Early intervention is the key to preventing lifelong issues that can affect every area of a child's life. Vision therapy offers an effective way to treat eye conditions and diseases even in very young children.

Why Early Intervention is So Important

The earlier treatment begins, the less likely that your child will experience a permanent vision disability. It's not unusual for problems to be identified when children start school. Although therapy will be helpful then, in some cases, it will begin too late to have the maximum impact. Identifying and treating vision problems as early as possible will give your son or daughter the best possible outcome and prepare him or her to do well in school.

What is Vision Therapy?

Good vision requires a complex interaction between your eyes, optic nerves, brain and the muscles that control your eyes. If there is a problem in any of these areas, you will not have full use of your vision, even though you may be able to read an eye chart. Vision therapy is conducted by vision therapists, optometrists who receive extensive training in the specialty. During therapy sessions, the vision therapist uses a variety of techniques and tools, such as prisms, filters, computerized activities, games, metronomes and balance boards, to help the eyes and brain to work together as a team.

How Can I Tell If My Child Needs Vision Therapy?

Although some types of childhood vision problems that can be treated with vision therapy are obvious, such as amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (misaligned or crossed eyes), others have no outward symptoms. Problems that seem minor, such as a head tilt, may actually occur if there is an issue with the vision in one eye. Although you might think that delays in rolling over, sitting up, crawling or walking are developmental issues, they may also occur due to vision problems. Because many these problems can be hard to identify, it's important to take your child for his or her first eye exam between the ages of 6 months to 1 year.

Can Vision Therapy Really Help Infants and Toddlers?

As you can imagine, working with infants and toddlers is a little more challenging than working with older children or adults, but vision therapists know how to adapt therapy techniques to meet the need of any age group. Your child's vision therapist will also teach you therapy activities that you can use at home to reinforce the progress made during therapy sessions.

After participating in therapy for several weeks or months, depending on the severity of your child's problems, you will gradually begin to see a change in his or her behavior. He or she may begin to track moving images; identify faces more easily; show more interest in children's books, coloring books and puzzles; or may no longer have problems with balance or coordination. Although surgery may be needed to correct strabismus or other conditions, the procedure only improves the appearance of your child's eyes. He or she may still have a vision problem if the eyes don't work together effectively. Vision therapy offers a simple and fun way to correct the issue.

Are you concerned that your child may have an undiagnosed vision problem? Call us to schedule an in-depth analysis of your child's vision.


Sources:

All About Vision: Vision Therapy for Children

http://www.allaboutvision.com/parents/vision_therapy.htm

American Optometric Association: Caring for Your Vision

http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision?sso=y

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus: Cortical Visual Impairment

https://www.aapos.org/terms/conditions/40

American Optometric Association: Preschool Vision

http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/good-vision-throughout-life/childrens-vision/preschool-vision-2-to-5-years-of-age?sso=y

Children’s Eye Foundation: Vision Therapy for Children

http://childrenseyefoundation.org/vision-facts/vision-therapy/