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4 Ways To Help Your Child who has a Vision-Related Learning Difficulties

sad child 640An estimated 1.25 million children in North America are affected by some form of visual problem that affects studying, reading, and daily living. These include: nearsightedness, farsightedness, lazy eye, or crossed-eye.

Please consider visiting our website to learn the difference between these two. We have explained that in words and with videos.

These visual problems usually have a huge impact on school performance and can cause a child to lag behind their peers.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to help your child succeed. First, let’s explain the link between vision and learning.

Why are Visual Skills Necessary For Learning?

Most of what we learn is through our visual system. Up to 80% of classroom learning is vision-based. Is it any wonder then, that children who have problems with certain visual skills lag behind their peers academically?

This goes way beyond the ability to see letters on the eye chart at the pediatrition’s office or the school nurse. It goes way beyond the pediatric eye surgeon’s test for eye health. What we are dealing with is how the 2 eyes function together as a team.

The Acuity chart tells us how we see at distance, such as looking at the blackboard, but more of learning, and reading, is NOT done at distance; it is done at near, such as reading a book or working on a computer.

The visual skills needed for school success go far beyond just visual acuity, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). The visual skills needed rely on brain-eye communication. These types of visual skills problems can only be detected with a doctor who is looking for these types of problems. These vision skills include eye teaming, tracking, accommodation, and focusing, all of which are critical for proficient reading, writing, and reading comprehension.

How Educators Can Help Students With Vision-Related Learning Challenges

Firstly, teachers are experts in teaching, but may not be experts in identifying what is holding a child back from being able to learn effectively.

1. Consider Where Your Students Should Be Seated

It is a good idea to have children seated facing the whiteboard rather than having to look over their shoulder or turn around to see what the teacher is writing on the board. Some classrooms have students seated at round tables, which puts some children into the position of having to turn around to see the front of the classroom. There are some positive reasons for this type of seating arrangement, but it makes it difficult to quickly shift gaze from distance to near in order to copy from the board.

2. Pay Attention to a Child’s Visual Needs

If eyeglasses were prescribed, it is important to know how and when they should be used. Sometimes children are bullied and that is why they don’t wear the eyeglasses that were prescribed.

3. Classroom Lighting

It is important that a child’s seat is not in direct sunlight or under a shadow. Natural lighting is preferred, but when that isn’t possible, tungsten light bulbs are generally favored by the eye over fluorescent lighting. Flickering light bulb should be changed without delay.

4. Choose a Teaching Method That Promotes good Vision and Sight

  • Use black or dark-colored markers on the whiteboard.
  • Avoid bright colored markers like orange, red, and yellow.
  • When writing on the board, say the words/numbers aloud to assist those who may have difficulty reading or seeing the text.
  • Avoid using language that relies heavily on vision, such as “like this one” or “over there.”
  • Be patient when a student stares off into space or daydreams. This is often a symptom of visual dysfunction, rather than a lack of attention.

How We Can Help

At Family Eye Care, our goal is to help each child reach their full potential by strengthening any visual skill deficiencies.

We treat children who have visual problems that affect learning. Most often, a child is not awaare that they have a problem and assuemthat everyone sees the same way that they do. Vision Therapy may be indicated to help the child to be able to use the two eyes together as a team, and to physically focus so the child can then mentally focus. Vision Therapy enables the individual to build a strong eye-brain connection.

To learn more or to ask any questions, contact Family Eye Care today.

Family Eye Care serves patients from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Sayreville, Manalapan, and throughout New Jersey.



Choose Holiday Gifts That Support Your Child’s Vision

child looking at toys 640Gift giving season is fast approaching. If you plan on purchasing a gift for a child, you may want to consider choosing one that supports healthy visual functioning.

Here’s our list of children’s gifts that benefit their visual health in a fun and enjoyable way.

Building Toys

Building toys help children develop hand-eye coordination and visualization skills. They also help enhance visual-spatial skills — an essential component of reading readiness. Understanding how to create a structure refines children’s spatial-organization skills.

Playing with building toys perfects skills like problem-solving, patience, and focus.

Some popular building toys are Legos, Duplos, Mega-Bloks, Clics, and Magnatiles. Many building toys are appropriate for children aged 1-9, but follow the age recommendation and warning labels listed on the packaging.

Visual Thinking Games and Toys

Jigsaw puzzles, memory games, dominoes, checkers, Rush Hour, and Bingo all help children to build visual thinking and processing skills. Visual thinking, also known as visual/spatial learning or picture thinking, is the ability to think and analyze what you have seen. This skill is needed for math and reading comprehension.

Visual thinking games are a great way to cultivate abilities like visual memory, form perception, eye tracking, sequencing, and pattern recognition.

Space Perception Toys

What better way to develop a child’s hand-eye coordination than with a lively game of catch or ping pong? Space perception toys also promote a child’s awareness of the space around them, as well as three-dimensional depth perception, eye tracking, and accommodation flexibility (the eyes’ ability to continuously change their focus between near and distant objects).

Other examples of space perception toys include marbles, pick-up-sticks, Jenga, and any game or sport that involves a ball.

Let’s Support Your Child’s Vision Together

A child’s vision enables them to succeed academically, building self esteem. When a child has a problem with one or several visual skills, it can cause them to struggle in school or develop attention and behavioral issues.

That’s why it’s important to provide children with toys, games, and opportunities that support and refine their visual skills.

If you suspect that your child may be struggling with their vision, bring them to Family Eye Care for a functional visual evaluation, where will test their visual skills and processing abilities.

Even a child with 20/20 vision can have visual dysfunction that will likely go undetected in standard eye exams or school screenings.

If a problem with their visual functioning is found, we may recommend a personalized program of vision therapy. Vision therapy is an evidence-based treatment method that has been proven effective for a wide variety of visual dysfunctions. This form of therapy can be thought of as a “gym” for the brain, as it helps to retrain the eye-brain connection and speed up a child’s visual information superhighway.

For more information or to schedule a functional visual evaluation, call Family Eye Care today.

Family Eye Care serves patients in Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Sayreville, Manalapan, and throughout New Jersey.


How to Know If Your Child Has a Functional Vision Problem

Functional Vision ProblemMany parents mistakenly assume that if their children have excellent eyesight, their visual system is functioning normally. Yet even if children have 20/20 vision, they may experience problems with their functional vision — how the eyes and brain work together to perform many everyday tasks.

Being aware of your child’s functional vision problems and addressing them is vital because well developed visual function means the eye and brain are communicating effectively. This is key to learning in class and throughout life. Functional vision problems can leave children feeling frustrated, cause difficulties with maintaining concentration and hinder their ability to reach their potential.

Symptoms of Functional Vision Problems

Children who have a visual function problem may:

  • Frequently rub their eyes
  • Experience persistent headaches
  • See double images
  • Seem overly fatigued
  • Cover one eye in the classroom, especially while reading, and doing homework
  • Tilt their head to see

While reading, they may:

  • Read slower than their classmates
  • Have reduced reading comprehension
  • Lose their place on the page
  • Hold written material or a digital screen too close to their faces
  • Avoid reading altogether

Problems with functional vision may force children to compensate by covering one eye or tilting their head to avoid the symptoms and make a task easier.

Such struggles cause fatigue of the eyes and body, along with headaches.

Possible Causes of Functional Vision Problems and How to Address Them

Your children’s functional vision requires the following visual skills. During a comprehensive visual function examination we will check for:

Convergence. Both eyes looking at and focusing on a nearby object, such as a book or computer screen

Tracking. Both eyes moving together as a task demands, such as following the words across a page or the arc of a basketball shot

Accommodation. Both eyes maintaining focus on an object as it moves closer or farther away

Alignment. Both eyes properly lining up so that they see the same object and send the same image to the brain

Fortunately, we can get your child back to enjoying school, reading and other activities. Bring your child in for an eye exam with Dr. Moshe Roth and Dr. Steffani Tiomno, who also will conduct a comprehensive examination for functional vision. This test is different from the standard vision screening your child likely receives in school, and is more extensive than a regular eye exam.

If we detect the shortfalls mentioned above, we’ll recommend vision therapy and then prescribe a customized program. Vision therapy is a month-long program made up of in-office and at-home exercises. These exercises, when done regularly and diligently, will significantly improve your child’s convergence, tracking, accommodation, and alignment, and get their visual functioning where it needs to be to enjoy daily activities and succeed in school.

When that happens, expect your child to request many more trips to the library!

Family Eye Care provides vision therapy for children with functional vision challenges from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Sayreville, Old Bridge, and throughout New Jersey.


Can At-Home Learning Cause Vision Problems in Children?

Home LearningMillions of schoolchildren are doing most of their learning at home during this COVID pandemic. Remote learning presents students with vision challenges. The most common problem is digital eye strain — also called computer vision syndrome. Spending many hours indoors and on computer has also been linked to a child becoming more and more nearsighted. That is called progressive myopia. These problems are of particular concern now, because children are now spending much more time on-line as compared to the days before the COVID epidemic.

Using digital screens for long periods causes digital eye strain. That eye strain then causes headaches, blurriness, dry eyes, difficulties with concentration, and neck and shoulder pain. The effects of digital eye strain are made even worse when a child has an already existing eye condition, for example, it they have a problem with eye movements.

A child is not able to tell you that they have these problems because they have always seen this way and they way they think everyone sees. That is why it is so important that your children undergo a thorough eye exam, and to correct or treat eye conditions that can interfere with their learning, both in the classroom and online.

How Parents Can Help

Conditions that contribute to a child having digital eye strain also include insufficient contrast between characters appearing on the screen and the screen’s background, the amount of glare emitted by the computer or tablet screen, being too close to or too far from the screen, and poor posture.

By monitoring your children’s learning environment and recognizing the signs of digital eye strain, you can prevent or at least minimize the effects of eye strain on your child. The American Optometric Association recommends that you:

  • Adjust the center of the screen so that it is approximately 5 inches below your eyes and 20–28 inches away
  • Tilt the screen to eliminate glare
  • Use proper posture, with feet planted firmly on the floor, back straight, and wrists off the keyboard
  • Blink frequently to keep the eyes moist
  • Take frequent breaks away from the device (at least every 20 minutes)
  • Shut devices at least one hour before going to sleep

Research has shown that children who spend significant time playing in the sunshine experience slower myopia progression than children who stay indoors, so it is a good idea to have your children get plenty of sunshine.

If your children haven’t yet undergone their annual comprehensive start-of-school eye exam, schedule an appointment with us. We’ll advise you and your children on how to keep their vision clear and comfortable and their eyes healthy during this extended period of at-home learning.

We, at Family Eye Care of Old Bridge, help parents and children from Old Bridge and the surrounding towns of Aberdeen, East Brunswick, Manalapan, Matawan, Marlboro, Monroe, Parlin. Sayreville, South Amboy, South River, Spotswood, Lawrence Harbor, Cliffwood Beach, and throughout New Jersey.



Will Wearing Glasses Weaken My Eyes

young child reading a book 640×350

Some people think that wearing glasses makes your eyes weaker. The truth is that glasses compensate for vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. They “compensate” so you can see better for a while, but they don’t “correct” the underlying problem.

New glasses WILL help you see more clearly, but you may need a stronger prescription in 1-2 years. So it is common for people to ask: Did the glasses make my eyes weaker? No, they did not. The reason that your prescription becomes worse is because your visual system (eyes + brain) continue to do what they have been doing, (meaning, over-focusing or over-converging), despite the fact that you can now see more clearly. Eyeglasses are a short term fix, but you wil likely need a higher prescription the following year.

At times, eyeglasses are the correct first treatment, for example if a child has Esotropia (crossed eyes) which is one type of Strabismus. In that specific case, glasses help straighten the eyes, according to the Mayo Clinic Health System. Not wearing them may lead to an eye turn or lazy eye becoming permanent.

If a child has Amblyopia (lazy eye) eyeglasses may also be a first treatment. At times, bifocal lenses benefit children who have physical focusing issues (accommodative problems).

Eyeglasses are prescribed to help someone see clearer or to better function while working on computer or driving. They can help and even eliminate headaches, eye strain, and frustration.

We, the doctors at Family eye Care in Old Bridge, NJ can best advise what lenses or other treatments may benefit you or your child, for short term and for long term.

We see patients who live in Old Bridge, and the surrounding towns of Aberdeen, East Brunswick, Manalapan, Matawan, Marlboro, Monroe, Parlin. Sayreville, South Amboy, South River, Spotswood, Lawrence Harbor, Cliffwood Beach, and throughout New Jersey.


The 5 Most Common Vision Problems In Children

child taking photographAs children grow, vision becomes even more important for academic and social success.

Most of the way we interact with the world, and especially learning and reading, is through our visual system. Children who have difficulty reading due to a visual problem may not want to read aloud in class, because of fear of being ridiculed by their classmates. Peer pressure has a very strong influence.

Most of how we learn in class, estimated at 80% of classroom learning, is vision-based. It is no surprise that even slight visual difficulties can dramatically affect scholastic achievement. This goes far beyond merely eyeglass issues. It is important for parents and teachers to be aware of the common vision problems that affect children.

Fortunately, many of these conditions are treatable. In our office, Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, we treat children who have vision problems so we can help them gain the visual skills they need to succeed.

Here’s our list of the five most common pediatric visual problems that we treat on a daily basis:

1- Refractive Conditions:

Nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism are the most common visual problems in children today.

Myopia, Near-Sighted-ness, makes it clear to see at near, but not at distance.

Hyperopia, Far-Sighted-ness, makes it clearer to see at distance, but reading materiel or computer work at near, requires more effort to see.

Most of the time, children who have these types of problems do not complain, because the way they see is normal for them.

They may benefit from eyeglass lenses to see more clearly.

If we have difficulty in seeing a clear picture in our brain, it is like looking at a blurred photograph and trying to see details. If it is harder to see details, it is harder to then remember details.

If someone has to visually work harder, they then may come to avoiding do that.

At times, the simplest answer might be eyeglasses or special contact lenses. At times it is more than an eyeglass issue.

2- Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Each eye sends a picture into the brain. Binocular vision is the ability to make 1 picture in your head from the 2 pictures that are coming in. The two eyes have to be lined up with each other, and work together. to for the brain to create one clear image. In binocular vision dysfunction (BVD) the eyes have difficulty working together. BVD can produce symptoms similar to a learning disorder and can impact academic success. When someone had difficulty with that, it can make concentrating, or attending, very difficult, and can lead to a mis-diagnosis of Attention Deficit Dysfunction (ADD). No amount of medication solves that type of problem. A child that has difficulty learning, or has been diagnosed with a learning disorder, would benefit from a functional eye exam to uncover visual difficulties that may be a t the source of the problem.

3- Amblyopia

Amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” occurs when picture coming in from one side, is reduced. This due to a communication error between the brain and the affected eye. Amblyopia usually involves one eye but can be bilateral, meaning, both eyes. It usually develops in infancy and affects about 5% of preschool-aged children. If someone is bothered when one eye is covered, then you may suspect amblyopia. Another tell tale sign is poor depth perception, such as difficulty in catching a ball, or if the child is very clumsy. Babies should have their first eye exam around 6 months of age to confirm that their vision is healthy.

4- Strabismus

Otherwise known as “eye-turn” or “crossed-eyes,” strabismus is when the 2 eyes don’t point on the same object at the same time. They may have trouble maintaining their correct position. Sometimes it is constant, but sometimes it is intermittent, meaning that it happens only SOME of the time.

Sometimes this is not obvious and it requires the expertise of an experienced doctor such as Dr. Roth or Dr. Tiomno at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, to identify the eye misalignment. This misalignment in early childhood can lead to amblyopia, because the brain turns off (suppresses) the image from the affected eye.

Some symptoms of strabismus may include wandering eye (the eyes drift outward) or if a child covers one eye when looking at a near object. A child may tend to turn their head to compensate for a mis-aligned eye. In some children with strabismus, their eyes may appear straight but have difficulty working as a team. This makes it difficult for the eyes to send correct images to the brain.

5- Convergence Insufficiency

Convergence Insufficiency (CI) means the eyes have a problem locking in together, especially on near objects, such as when we are reading or working on computer. When we have normal convergence ability, our eyes point inwards when looking at a near object. When something comes closer, our eyes move closer towards the nose. We not only have to point our eyes in, we need to sustain that over the time to do a reading assignment.

In cases of CI, the child suffers with fatigue when trying to point inwards, resulting in tiredness, to the point where the child’s reading ability and comprehension are affected. If it is difficult to bring the information into the brain, it will be difficult to remember the information. The person has to work very hard and that is fatiguing. Sometimes that can result in headache. At times, the child just learns to avoid reading.

Children with CI will likely have difficulty reading and focusing, and may experience eyestrain or blurred vision.

How Can Our Optometrists Help?

We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, look for these problems as part of all eye examinations, both for children and for adults. We not only test for this, but we also provide treatment for the underlying problem. Vision Therapy solves problems that eyeglasses and contact lenses can’t solve.

We provide Vision Therapy to treat conditions such as amblyopia, strabismus, convergence insufficiency, and binocular vision dysfunction. Vision Therapy (VT) is a personalized program of in-office treatments and at-home reinforcement of the visual skills to enable the individual to learn how to use the eyes and brain together so they can work in unison.

If you are concerned about your child’s academic or sports performance, or think that their visual skills may benefit from being improved, consider having a Developmental Vision Evaluation. Dr Roth and Dr. Tiomno at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge will assess your child’s visual skills and general ocular health in our comprehensive examination. We use both standard and specialized diagnostic tools during the examination.

For more information and to schedule an appointment, call us at 732-679-2020 today. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you.

We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, also serve the surrounding communities of Aberdeen, East Brunswick, Manalapan, Matawan, Marlboro, Monroe, Parlin. Sayreville, South Amboy, South River, Spotswood, Lawrence Harbor, and Cliffwood Beach.

Is Your Child a Struggling Student?

female student suffering from headache in library 3808057Students of all ages can struggle with focusing and learning problems that can impede their academic success. What many don’t know is that an estimated 80% of students with learning difficulties actually have an undiagnosed visual problem that could be contributing to their academic challenges. Additionally, 80% of a child’s learning in school is vision-based, so a problem with visual skills could negatively affect academic performance. A personalized vision therapy program with Dr. Roth at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge can help your child gain the visual skills they need to succeed.

How Can I Tell If My Child Has a Vision Problem?

Your child may display any number of the following symptoms or behaviors due to a vision problem:

  • Frequent head tilting
  • Headaches, dizziness, or eye strain
  • Poor depth perception
  • Tendency to close one eye
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Avoidance of visually demanding tasks
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Easily loses place or skips lines while reading
  • Difficulty judging an object’s size or shape
  • Difficulty focusing for extended periods of time
  • Behavioral issues

It’s important to note that the only way to accurately determine whether your child has a visual problem is to bring them in for a Functional Vision Evaluation where we will assess your child’s eye health and various visual skills. This is different than a routine eye examination that looks for eye health and eyeglass issues. If a visual problem is detected, we may recommend Vision Therapy to treat the issue and restore healthy vision.

How Can Vision Therapy Improve Learning?

Vision Therapy is a personalized series of in-office sessions done weekly, to strengthen the eye-brain connection and ensure that both eyes work in unison to create a unified and clear image of their surroundings.

Vision therapy helps the individual to 1- bring in visual information 2- process that information so they can make better sense of it so they can then have 3- better output. Vision Therapy has little to do with eye “strength” or visual acuity (distance vision). Rather, it focuses on building and refining other visual skills, such as eye teaming and tracking — skills necessary for efficient reading and learning.

The Vision Therapist uses various tools to aid in the therapeutic process, such as prisms, filters, balance boards, therapeutic lenses, and more. At the end of each session, the patient and parent is instructed on the home Activities to reinforce what has been learned, in order to make it automatic and second nature. Progress is closely monitored to ensure there is an improvement.

Vision occurs in the brain rather than in the eye. Strengthening the eye-brain connection facilitates scholastic tasks such as reading. Concentrating and memory improve and your child can allocate more resources to the higher levels of brain activity. Less effort is needed to read and remember what has been read. Helping make this easier then boosts your child’s confidence and self-esteem. Vision Therapy has the potential to transform a struggling student into a thriving one.

Jump Start Your Child’s Academic Year

The summer months are the optimal time to begin Vision Therapy sessions in order to prepare for the upcoming school year. Especially in these COVID-19 times, when most of a child’s learning may be on a computer, it’s the perfect time to determine if your child’s struggles are classroom-based or vision-based. Call Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, 1-732-679-2020 today to schedule your child’s examination whit Dr. Roth or Dr. Tiomno and start them on the path to success.

We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, provide Vision Therapy and other services to patients from Matawan, Marlboro, Monroe, Manalapan, Aberdeen, East Brunswick, South Amboy, South River, Old Bridge and throughout NJ.


Why Vision Therapy Provides Lasting Correction For Strabismus [Eye-Turn]

cat strabismusStrabismus, more commonly referred to as “cross-eye” or “eye turn,” (and often incorreclty referred to as “lazy eye”) is a condition where the eyes don’t point in the same direction. While many people accept the opinion of an eye surgeon and choose to address the condition with surgery. Often, the problem persists and reverts to the original eye turn. This leaves many patients with little to no improvement, and considerably frustrated. A better, more holistic and more permanent approach is a Vision Therapy program directed to the problem. We, at Family Eye Care, offer a solution. If you or a loved one is experiencing even a slight eye-turn, speak with Dr. Roth to determine if Vision Therapy can help you.

What Is Strabismus?

The terms “eye-turn” and “lazy-eye” are often confused, but they are actually two different conditions. Strabismus refers to an eye-turn, a condition that can be constant or occur only sporadically. The eyes don’t move in unison, so when the brain receives a different image from each eye, it can not form a unified image. To cope with the conflicting messages, the brain may suppress, or “turn off,” one of the images. As a result, the suppressed eye will not develop the same coordination with the brain as the stronger eye. This then leads to permanent visual loss or even blindness in the weaker eye, and several other serious visual problems.

Strabismus can manifest in different ways and with varying degrees of magnitude. Each case is unique, and your optometrist can provide clarity on your particular condition at your next eye exam.

What Are Common Symptoms of Strabismus?

When the eyes aren’t aligned, certain symptoms can arise. One problem may be the obvious cosmetic misalignment. Someone with strabismus may squint or tilt their head in order to avoid seeing double. An eye-turn prevents or affects depth perception, making driving or playing sports challenging.

Children with strabismus may close or cover one eye when trying to read the board in the classroom, or while focusing on distant objects. They may suffer with poor grades or poor self esteem. They may be reluctant to participate in team sports due to a lack of visual skills. Often, children with visual difficulties are mistakenly diagnosed with a learning or social disorder when their vision is the problem.

Why Is Vision Therapy a Better Treatment Than Surgery?

The primary reason that surgery isn’t the ideal strabismus treatment is that it ignores the source of the problem: the connection between the brain and the affected eye. Surgeons will try and move the point of the muscle’s attachment to the eye in the hope that this will straighten the affected eye. Many patients are left needing a second or even third surgery because the first has not produced the necessary improvement. Additionally, surgery is invasive and poses risks of infection and other surgical complications.

In the event that surgery is the best option, optometrists often recommend a program of vision therapy either before or after the surgery. This program provides the best opportunity for the misaligned eye to develop connectivity to the brain and stay in the correct position.

In contrast to surgery, Optometric Vision Therapy trains the brain and eye to work together to achieve long-lasting results. By developing this eye-brain connectivity, the long term goal is for eyes to work in unison and ultimately achieve 3D vision.

If you or your child have been diagnosed with strabismus, call our office, Family eye Care in Old Bridg,e, NJ to schedule an eye exam with Dr. Roth and start your journey to healthy vision.

We provide Vision Therapy and other services to patients from the area (Matawasn, Manalapan, Marlboro, Monroe, and from East Brunswick, South Ambloy, South River, and Old Bridge, and throughout New Jersey.


Fun Home-Based Activities to Strengthen Your Child’s Vision

crayons coloringAlthough 20/20 clarity is important, it’s not enough. It is only one part of the larger picture that is vision.

The visual system is made up of the eyes and the brain, and it’s how these two parts work together that makes all the difference. When your eyes and brain don’t communicate with each other properly, this brings about poor reading comprehension, less ability to concentrate and attend.

A child cannot tell you that this is happening because they think that the way they are seeing, is normal, and that everyone sees that way.

Strong visual skills are essential for learning and performing well in school and in sports. These include:

  • Fixation: The ability to fixate or hold your gaze on a target for an extended period.
  • Pursuit: The ability to follow a moving target as you would follow a tennis ball.
  • Saccade: The ability to rapidly shift focus between targets, such as moving from word to word while reading.
  • Accommodation: The ability to shift focus between distant to near objects (and vice versa), such as looking at the board and then writing notes in your notebook.
  • Binocularity: Using both eyes simultaneously.

If any of the above vision skills are not working well, your child may have difficulty paying attention, become fatigued, and may even exhibit behavioral problems. You may see your child rub their eyes while reading or use their finger to follow each word in a text. These are signs that there is an underlying visual problems. Your child may appear to be performing well below their potential, and their writing may be messy despite having good fine motor skills. If your child has been diagnosed with reduced visual skills, you can start to help them develop these skills at home? There are several activities that parents and caretakers can do during this time to help kids improve their vision.

If problems persist, then we advise that you come in for a full evaluation. We can then help your child develop these skills through vision therapy. Vision Therapy in our office is offered through in-office therapy and also through remote vision therapy with our therapsists.

At-Home Vision Exercises

Below are some ways you can help kids develop healthy vision from the comfort of their home.

Reading, Mazes, Puzzles and Writing — tracking

Visual tracking is made up of two skills: moving your eyes between targets (also called “saccades”), and following moving targets (called “pursuits”). We all make use of these basic skills every time we read, write, draw, drive, or do sports. Problems with tracking become more obvious when a child or adults frequently loses their place while reading, makes up words that are not there, or skims over words without processing them. Help your child develop theses skills by giving them puzzles, have them draws, and reads will improve their visual tracking. Reading to your child helps develops an interest for reading.

Alphabet Ball — fixation, binocularity, pursuits

With a permanent marker, draw letters, animals or colors on a ball or balloon. As you roll or toss the ball/balloon, ask your child to call out the last thing they noticed before catching it.

Near-Far Tasks — accommodation

In school, children must alternate between near and far objects, such as when looking at their notebook and then at the blackboard, and back again. Have your child sit at a table and draw the shapes you have sketched on a piece of paper and hung on a nearby wall. The motion of looking from a near point to far point will help improve accommodation (physical focusing) skills.

Pencil Movement — fixation

Ask your child to find a colored crayon they plan to use for drawing. Before they begin drawing, slowly move it in figure 8’s — horizontal, vertical, and circular motions in front of them — while having them follow it with their eyes. Doing this 5 minutes a day is an excellent way to improve fixation.

Our office is kid-friendly and we know to look for these types of problems, which are different that eye health problems and eyeglass issues.

We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, NJ hope that you and your family are safe and healthy during this unusual COVID period.

We serve patients in Old Bridge, East Brunswick, South River, South Amboy, Aberdeen, Matawan, Marlboro, Manalapan, Monroe. and throughout New Jersey.

Treating Your Non-Reader With Vision Therapy

toddler reading book 1257105 (1)The following scenario may sound familiar. It’s a school night and your child has a reading assignment which he or she refuses to complete. You plead with your child, offering to read it together or incentivizing with a reward. No matter what you do, your child just wants to watch TV or play yet another video game.

Perhaps you’ve already consulted with your child’s teacher, school counselor, and pediatrician about the reading difficulties, just to be told that all seems normal — yet you remain concerned. At Family Eye Care, we understand the challenges for parents and children that accompany reading difficulties, and we’re here to help.

A functional visual evaluation with Dr. Moshe Roth and Dr. Steffani Tiomno will determine whether the child’s visual system may actually be at the root of your child’s reading and learning struggles. If a visual problem is hindering your child from reaching their potential, the vision therapy program offered at Family Eye Care can help turn your child into a proficient reader.

Visual Skills Necessary For Reading

There are many visual skills that contribute to academic success. One of the least important skills is termed visual acuity (clarity, sharpness), also known as 20/20 vision, this only assesses how well a child sees at twenty feet away and is part of basic vision screenings in schools and most regular eye exams. However, how well a child sees at a distance of twenty feet has little to do with how well their visual system performs at the reading and learning distance — approximately 11 to 16 inches from the face.

More relevant visual skills required for reading include eye-tracking, eye-teaming, convergence, accommodation, and visual fixation. These skills are assessed during a functional visual evaluation. In simpler terms — both eyes need to work together, move at the same pace, and provide a single and clear image for the brain to interpret. Imagine trying to read when the words are blurry or even doubled? Vision therapy is a customized program to improve these visual skills by training the brain to improve these visual skills —thereby significantly improving the child’s reading, learning, and performance at school.

Early Signs of a Struggling Reader

Although detecting a child’s visual problem can be difficult — either because he or she may not complain about their vision or simply lack the communication skills needed to describe their struggles — several signs may indicate an underlying vision problem. If your child exhibits any of the following behaviors, it may be time to get a functional vision evaluation with Dr. Moshe Roth and Dr. Steffani Tiomno.

  • Reading below grade level
  • Low attention span or excessive fidgeting
  • Behavioral issues caused by frustration
  • Resistance to attend school or do homework
  • Shying away from reading out loud or avoiding reading altogether
  • Struggling to summarize or remember what was just read
  • Teachers may notice the child takes frequent bathroom breaks during activities involving reading
  • Covering one eye, head-tilting, or frequently blinking when looking at far-away objects, such as a blackboard
  • Headaches after reading

How Does Vision Therapy Work?

Vision therapy focuses on improving the child’s visual skills. These visual skills, just like walking and talking, are learned skills that can be trained and improved. The brain’s neuroplasticity allows for new learning pathways to be created, making it possible for a child to gain visual skills that weren’t present beforehand. Because around 75% to 90% of a child’s learning occurs through the visual system, any issues with the various visual skills could hinder a child from achieving their potential. On the flipside, enhancing visual abilities can make learning and reading easier and more accessible.

If a vision-related reading issue is the underlying cause of your child’s reading and learning struggles, the vision therapy program at Family Eye Care will target and treat your child’s particular issues in a customized program.

Each vision therapy session takes place in-office on a weekly basis under the supervision of Dr. Moshe Roth and Dr. Steffani Tiomno. In between sessions, your child will also be expected to perform at-home visual exercises. The length of treatment will depend on the type and degree of the vision-related reading issues. The vision therapist will use various aids and tools, such as prisms, filters, eye patches, balance beams, and digital simulations in the therapeutic process.

Give your child the tools for proficient reading and academic success with vision therapy. If you suspect that a vision problem may be preventing your child from succeeding, contact Family Eye Care today to schedule a functional vision evaluation.

Dr. Moshe Roth and Dr. Steffani Tiomno provides vision therapy and other services to patients from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Sayreville, Manalapan, and throughout New Jersey.