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Vision Therapy

Whenever an individual has trouble concentrating to read, it is critical to check for vision problems before labelling the difficulty as ‘dyslexic ‘ or having an ‘attention deficit disorder’. This is especially true for children. One of the main tools for comfortable reading is binocular and perceptual function. If the eyes cannot converge and focus onto the same point on the page then reading comprehension is reduced and reading ability and progress is limited.

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Imagine seeing two of everything and believing that everyone sees the same as you do.

Words jump, disappear or move but everyone else can read alright so why can’t you? Self- confidence rapidly evaporates and reading becomes boring and a chore. This is not uncommon. Research findings published by Hokada (1985) found that 21% of a normal population demonstrated symptoms and clinical findings of binocular vision impairments. In a reading disabled population 73% exhibit binocular and/or perceptual dysfunction. (Seiderman 1980).

The signs

It is often the teachers who are the first to pick up that there is a problem and will usually recommend a sight test. In fact, the classic sign of a binocular vision problem is a short attention span and inability to concentrate. In these situations it is not uncommon for this sight test to reveal ’20/20′ vision and a clean bill of health from the optometrist not experienced in vision therapy.

As a Vision Therapist I examine the visual system beyond the 20/20 level. I investigate how efficiently the visual system as a whole is functioning and I help individuals develop quality vision and improve concentration. I work closely with local educational psychologists including Elvie Brown, as well as Mary Mountstephen who is an Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association and a child development specialist.

The procedure

Whether you have been referred to us by a teacher or educational psychologist, or you have heard about us ‘on the grapevine’, the first stage is to call us and explain the situation to one of our staff members. We request that you download and complete our Questionnaire and this must be submitted to us before any appointment. Please also bring any Educational Psychologist reports, current glasses and teachers comments (if possible ask a teacher to complete the Visual and General Signs sections on the questionnaire).

The initial assessment is approximately two hours long, including discussion of results. During the assessment I will investigate the primitive reflexes and how, if retained, they may be impacting on the vision. I will review the development of the gross motor system and assess in depth how efficiently the eyes work as a pair. A parent or guardian is required to sit in on the exam with all children under 16 years of age.

The treatment

Treatment may consist of glasses, coloured overlays, exercises or a combination of all three. The exercises should be performed as often as possible, preferably every day. They take approximately 10 minutes and should be performed in the morning when the individual is fresh. Supervision is essential. We review progress each month and assuming previously agreed targets have been achieved new exercises are issued. Completion of the course can take up to six months of continuous therapy.

Visual Stress

Visual Stress (Meares – Irlen Syndrome), also known as scotopic sensitivity syndrome, is a sensitivity to visual patterns, particularly stripes. In some individuals this condition can cause visual perception problems which interfere with reading. The symptoms can occur despite normal vision.

One current explanation is that the perceptual problems are due to a hyperactivation of the visual cortex of the brain, particularly in more anterior visual areas, which is reduced by precise individual colour. Symptoms of visual stress include:

  • Movement of the printed text
  • Blurring of print
  • Letters changing size or shape
  • Patterns in the print (sometimes described as rivers or worms)
  • Halos of colour surrounding letters or words
  • Tiring easily whilst reading
  • Headaches or visual discomfort
  • Red, sore, watery eyes.

Visual Stress and Photosensitive migraine

Migraine attacks have many triggers, including stress, particular foods, and hormones. About 40% of migraine attacks may be visually-induced by flickering light, patterns or reading. These attacks may be helped by precision tinted lenses.

Research in the US undertaken by a team of neuroscientists, using brain imaging, has shown that a suppression of hyper-excitability in the visual cortex occurs in migraineurs when individually selected precision tinted lenses are worn.

The lenses for the study were selected using the Intuitive Colorimeter.

The solution

Visual Stress can be reduced by the use of coloured filters: a coloured overlay placed over the text or coloured lenses worn in spectacles. The reduction occurs only when the colour is selected to suit the individual.

A coloured overlay assessment may be performed as part of a vision therapy examination, depending on the symptoms, with overlays issued if necessary. If eye exercises are also required we will reassess the overlay requirement on completion of the course of eye exercises. If there is still a benefit we will perform colorimetry to identify the appropriate colour for spectacles using our assessment software. As a rule of thumb, we will only suggest tinted coloured lenses once exercises have been completed. Our own experience has shown that just completing the exercises often sorts out the problem.

Book an Appointment

Give us a call:
01749 345259

FAQs

My local optician says that my child’s eyes are fine. What do you do that he/she doesn’t?

A national health service sight test is only designed to identify if an individual needs glasses or has any eye disease. It is, literally, a test of the sight.

The eyes collect the information but if they do not work efficiently together our brains are unable to interpret the gathered information. Vision therapists examine the whole vision system, including how well the eyes work as a team. This is far more in depth and is not available on the NHS.

How common is this problem?

It has been estimated that 1 in 5 people may have a binocular vision problem (Hokada 1985).

Why do I have to pay for this service?

Unfortunately, this is not as yet available on the NHS.

My optician says there is no evidence to say that this works?

There is a lot of cynicism regarding the efficacy of vision therapy, however there is growing anecdotal and more importantly scientific evidence that supports our work and the positive results that we achieve.

Is there anywhere I can get more information about helping my child to succeed?

Mary Mountstephen, who is an associate member of the British Dyslexia association and child development specialist has developed individualised assessment and intervention programs using international research based resources. Her practical books for parents are available on Amazon.

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Christopher Young

Christopher Young

Optometrist

Chris qualified as an optometrist virtually before time began. He has worked in the practice since it opened in 1986 and now specialises in Vision Therapy. In his spare time he is a member of the local Masonic Lodge and enjoys sailing, watching rugby and cricket as well as sampling Single Malts and red wine.

Rebecca Ryder

Rebecca Ryder

Optometrist

After finishing a degree in Biology at Southampton University Rebecca went on to study Optometry at Cardiff University and completed her pre-registration at Williams & Parry Opticians in heart of the Welsh valleys.

Rebecca still keeps a strong affiliation with Cardiff University and has returned as a part-time clinical supervisor and also as an organiser/participant in the ‘Returning Vision Moldova Project’. This non-profit University associated project involves visiting remote and impoverished communities in Moldova and providing eye exams and glasses to those in need.

Always keen to expand her knowledge Rebecca has consistently completed extra accreditation in optometry since graduating; most recently the post-graduate certificate in Independent Prescribing for Optometrists.

After meeting a particularly charming West-Country man 6 years ago Rebecca migrated across the Severn bridge and has resided very happily in the Mendip area ever since. Of course being Welsh she is an avid Rugby fan and during any international match she is easily recognisable at her local pub for sporting the only red shirt in the house!

Juliet Thompson

Juliet Thompson

Manager & Eyewear Advisor

Juliet joined us from Uniq Foods in July 2012 after many years in the food industry as Desserts Production Manager, responsible for all areas of producing luxury desserts for M&S etc.  She enjoys walking, keeping fit and live music.

Tracy Hoskins

Tracy Hoskins

Assistant Manager & Eyewear Advisor

Tracy worked for Tesco on the customer service desk for many years before joining us in 2014. In her spare time she enjoys walking and travel, particularly to the USA.

Sam Gay

Sam Gay

Eyewear Advisor

Sam has extensive experience in the optical industry, having worked for Dolland and Aitchison and then Boots Opticians in Yeovil. She enjoys walking.

Stephanie Cole

Stephanie Cole

Optical Assistant

Stephanie works on the front desk in the practice. She is responsible for meeting and greeting our clients, answering the phone and performing administrative duties. She job shares with Tanis. With many years in the hospitality trade she has always been used to ‘front of house’ duties and when not working she can be found head to toe in running gear either pounding the tarmac or off road trail running

Tanis Oliver

Tanis Oliver

Optical Assistant

Tanis also works on the front desk in the practice. She is responsible for meeting and greeting our clients, answering the phone and performing administrative duties. She job shares with Steph. Tanis moved to Somerset with her family 4 years ago. She has extensive experience in customer service and enjoys running and walking.

Nikisha Oladipupo

Nikisha Oladipupo

Audiologist and Hearing Aid Consultant

Nikisha has been a fully qualified audiologist for more than seven years, having graduated from the University of Bristol in Summer 2012. After gaining her degree, she worked as part of a fantastic NHS team in Bath for two years, which greatly developed her clinical expertise.

Following her time in the NHS, Nikisha wanted to broaden her knowledge further, and so five years ago moved into the private sector, where she has been able to continue to build her extensive skillset.

“I decided to venture out and join the team at The Hearing Care Partnership because they are renowned for delivering great customer service and great technology to their clients, which is something I wanted to be part of. In addition, working alongside optical practice teams was an intriguing proposition, and a whole new experience for me.

“When I’m not at work, I love to spend time with my daughter. I also really enjoy a good mystery or crime book – Harlan Coben is one of my favourite authors!”