Pediatric Vision Therapy

Pediatric Vision Therapy

Pediatric Vision Therapy

Pediatric Vision Therapy

vision therapy

What Is Vision Therapy?

Vision Therapy helps patients improve their foundation for reading, learning and playing sports. It’s a series of custom and individualized activities and exercises which function as a form of neuro-optometric rehabilitation.

In other words, Vision Therapy retrains the brain to more effectively interact with the eyes and therefore improve vision functioning. The goal is to enhance eye tracking, focusing and eye teaming abilities as well as eye-hand coordination and visual processing speed.

The Vision Therapy program in Vinings, Atlanta is not only for children. Vision Therapy is effective for adults, especially if they are motivated to improve their visual abilities.

What Is Vision Therapy?

Our Developmental Optometrist can help with lazy eye (amblyopia), eye turns (strabismus), traumatic brain injury (concussion, whiplash), reading issues and special needs populations. Research has shown that 20% of children have a vision issue that affects their learning.

What Is Vision Therapy?

Vision is all about the way our brains and eyes interact. Whether it’s reading words on the board, catching a ball, or tying our shoelaces, we depend on our visual system to work properly in order to succeed at any of these tasks.

This is because vision isn’t just what we see, it’s how we interpret and interact with that information. In fact, you can have perfect visual acuity―able to rattle off all the symbols on the reading chart―but still struggle with dyslexia, poor focus, hand-eye coordination, or vision conditions like strabismus, amblyopia, or convergence insufficiency.

Vision Therapy is a highly specialized focus of optometry whereby the patient uses customized activities to train the brain to work hand in hand with their eyes. Based on extensive research, vision therapy is a proven technique for improving vision when glasses or contacts are insufficient. One way to explain vision therapy is that it is similar to physical therapy for the eyes. In the case of vision therapy, the therapist and optometrist will work with the patient using a variety of exercises in an individualized plan that adapts to their progress.

Overview Of Vision Therapy

Vision Therapy helps patients improve their foundation for reading, learning, and playing sports. It’s a series of custom and individualized activities and exercises which function as a form of neuro-optometric rehabilitation.

In other words, Vision Therapy retrains the brain to more effectively interact with the eyes and therefore improve vision functioning. The goal is to enhance eye tracking, focusing, and eye teaming abilities as well as eye-hand coordination and visual processing speed.

The program is not only for children. Vision Therapy is effective for adults, especially if they are motivated to improve their visual abilities.

  • Accommodative Dysfunction (Problem with a long-term focus such as losing focus or over-focusing)

  • Eye Tracking Disorders (Difficulty with moving the eye from one point to another)

  • Convergence Insufficiency (A tendency for the eyes to drift outwards when reading)

  • Strabismus (Known as cross-eyed, where the eyes do not work together)

  • Binocular Vision Dysfunction (Different lines of sight between both eyes)

  • Diplopia (double vision due to the eyes not working well as a team)

  • Vision Information Processing Disorders (Dyslexia is one example)


What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia, commonly referred to as “lazy eye” is when there is a significant difference in power between the eyes. This is often, but not always, caused by an alignment or eye-teaming problem such as strabismus.

Some common symptoms and problems associated with lazy eye:

  • Poor depth perception

  • Head tilting

  • Social stigma

  • Slow reading*

*According to a study published on November 2015 by the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, children with amblyopia read slower 42 words per minute than children without amblyopia that read 81 words per minute.

Treatment for Amblyopia: It’s Not about the “Bad” Eye

Amblyopia or “lazy eye” is best treated by Vision Therapy.

First, the source of the amblyopia must be identified. When indicated, eyeglasses are prescribed. Many eye doctors, particularly Pediatric Ophthalmologists, begin treatment by patching the “bad” eye. However, patching is now proven to be ineffective! Likewise, some doctors recommend atropine eye drops. However, this addresses the symptoms and not the neuro-optometric cause itself.

The common approach treats the problem as a problem in that one eye. Treating one eye may improve the acuity (being able to see letters on a chart) for a while, but often reverts and regresses.

The developmental approach taken by Vision Therapists realizes that amblyopia is really not an eye problem, but rather a problem of not being able to use the two eyes together as a team (eye-teaming). This approach is therefore often much more successful. In the same way that it was difficult for a parent to identify if someone had the problem, to begin with, it is often difficult for them to know if an eye doctor’s recommendation to patch the eye is really working. They, therefore, may be losing time with an ineffective outdated treatment plan.

Amblyopia does not go away on its own, and it can significantly affect a child’s ability to both learn and thrive socially in school. Untreated amblyopia can lead to permanent visual problems and poor depth perception. To prevent this and to give your child the best vision possible, amblyopia should be treated early by vision therapy.

At What Age Can Vision Therapy Treat Amblyopia?

An old axiom that is still held by many eye doctors is that amblyopia must be detected and aggressively treated before the age of 8 or 9. In reality, treatment for amblyopia or lazy eye is effective for adults as well as children. A child’s visual system is more malleable at a younger age, making treatment quicker at a younger age. However, adults with amblyopia or “lazy eye” tend to be more motivated patients. Improved eye teaming is nearly always achievable.


What is Strabismus?

Strabismus, often referred to as “Crossed Eyes”, “Wandering Eyes”, or “Wall Eye” is a condition where the eyes fail to properly align. Beyond the social stigma, strabismus often results in other vision and visual processing problems such as diplopia (double-vision), amblyopia, and problems with depth perception. A major concern for developmental optometrists is that strabismus is not as simple to diagnose as a visual check. In fact, you can have strabismus without any obvious crossing or eye turns.

There are four kinds of strabismus, two horizontal and two vertical:

  • Esotropia: one eye may turn in relative to the other {try and find images for these, commons domain}

  • Exotropia: one eye turns out relative to the other

  • Hypertropia: one eye turns up relative to the other

  • Hypotropia: one eye turns up relative to the other

Treatment for Strabismus

All too often, parents are told “don’t worry, your child will ‘grow out of it’. This is a mistake. In most cases, the problem does not improve as the child grows, and meanwhile, strabismus leads to significant difficulties with reading and learning. Treatment varies depending on the cause of the eye-turning, and may include:

  • Eyeglasses

  • Vision Therapy

  • Prism

  • Eye muscle surgery

Eye muscle surgery can sometimes make the eyes appear to others as if it is straight, but it rarely aligns with the other eye, and the amblyopia continues. A program of Vision Therapy for children or adults is usually needed in order to restore visual function and the ability to use the two eyes together as a team.

Convergence Insufficiency

What is Convergence Insufficiency?

Convergence Insufficiency is a neuro-visual condition where the eyes fail to come together (to converge) enough to enable proper visual perception. The condition is particularly related to near-vision or near-center and visually demanding activities. This can result in:

  • Poor school performance and behavioral problems

  • Eyestrain

  • Blurred vision

  • Diplopia (double-vision)

  • Asthenopia (eye strain and fatigue)

  • Difficulty making eye contact

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches and migraines

  • Difficulty reading and concentrating

  • Avoidance of “near” work

  • Poor sports performance

  • Dizziness or motion sickness

A study of almost 700 5th and 6th graders indicated that convergence insufficiency is much more common than many assumed with 13% of students having CI, as well as demonstrating that of the children who showed three signs of CI, 79% were classified as being accommodative insufficient as well.

Treatment for Convergence Insufficiency

Eye coordination problems such as convergence insufficiency and convergence excess generally cannot be improved with eyeglasses or surgery. Likewise, research demonstrates that the traditional focus exercise often called “pencil pushups” are ineffective. The only consistently effective treatment for convergence insufficiency is office-based Vision Therapy, which will improve eye coordination abilities and reduce symptoms and discomfort when doing close work.

Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke, MS And Concussions

Acquired Brain Injuries

A brain injury such as a concussion will often disrupt the visual process that interfere with how information is taken in and processed. Vision can be also be compromised as a result of a neurological disorder such as a stroke, a brain tumor or Multiple Sclerosis. These are termed Acquired Brain Injuries.

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation

When someone has a Traumatic Brain Injury (for example a car crash or a bad fall) or an Acquired Brain Injury (stroke or brain tumor), it is common to then have problems with vision. Making sense of what you see is one of the most important brain functions. Your Buckhead Neuro-Optometrists help individuals solve the vision problems brought about by that brain injury. Addressing the vision problem often facilitates improvement with other therapies. Neuro-Optometrists diagnose and treat in order to maximize the patient’s outcome, with the ultimate goal of these services to improve the patient’s quality of life.

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation at our vision therapy center serving Buckhead, Atlanta,Vinings, Brookhaven treats patients with a specialized Vision Therapy program for those who have suffered a brain injury, that effectively treats visual problems including:

  • Diplopia (double vision)

  • Eye-tracking problems

  • Binocular Vision Dysfunctions (the ability to coordinate the two eyes to work together)

  • Reduced visual acuity at far (how clear the letters are at distance)

  • Reduced visual acuity at near (how clear the letters are at a reading distance)

  • Accommodative Disorders (physically focusing the eyes)

  • Difficulties in visual perception (are objects where I think they are?)

  • Visual Field loss (not being able to see on the right side of the right eye, for example)

  • Deficits in visual motor (eye movement problems)

  • Ocular Motility disorders integration (putting together eye movement with body movement)

  • Visual Information Processing (making sense of what you see)

  • Strabismus (eye turns)

  • Mental visual focus

  • Physical eye focus

These visual issues affect how someone is able to function on a daily basis. Addressing these vision conditions to the recovery process. In fact, patients typically gain more from neuro-developmental vision therapy than they do from other therapies, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, etc. Vision issues such as the ones listed above are all too often the main obstacle in achieving a full recovery.

Vision Therapy For The Special Needs Community

Autism And Developmental Disabilities

Vision problems are very common in individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism. These problems or stims include:

  • lack of eye contact

  • staring at spinning objects or light

  • fleeting peripheral glances

  • side viewing

  • difficulty in maintaining visual attention

People with autism and other developmental disabilities often have trouble efficiently and accurately processing visual information, often combined with difficulty coordinating between peripheral and central vision. Following an object (eye-tracking) is also a typical problem. There is usually a preference to scan or glance at objects from the side instead of looking at them straight on. Eye movement disorders and crossed eyes are common in the autistic spectrum.

Vision Therapy is effective at in stimulating and improving proper visual responses, eye movements, and the central visual system. Vision Therapy is also effective in helping patients to better organize visual space and gain peripheral stability so that he or she can better attend to and appreciate central vision and gain more efficient eye coordination and visual information processing. Dr. is certified as a Fellow of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) and is experienced in examining and treating individuals with developmental disabilities and autism, even those who are non-verbal.

Vision Therapy And Down Syndrome

Vision Therapy And Cerebral Palsy
Patients with Down Syndrome overwhelmingly require eye care, with 70% requiring glasses and 45% of people with down syndrome have strabismus, which is usually best treated by a Vision Therapy Optometrist. Furthermore, there are a variety of ocular diseases associated with Down Syndrome patients such as tear duct abnormalities that can lead to severe discomfort, keratoconus (misshapen cornea) and congenital cataracts. A patient with down syndrome will also require specialized glasses made for their unique facial features.

Vision Therapy And Cerebral Palsy

Patients with Cerebral Palsy will most likely have visual conditions that require correction with glasses and in many cases Vision Therapy. Recent research on Vision Therapy for Cerebral Palsy is showing that it is extremely effective. Many patients with Cerebral Palsy will have Strabismus, or, “crossed eyes”, which is most effectively treated with a Vision Therapy program that is personalized to the patient.

Links to further research

Dr. Takeia Locke

Dr. Takeia Locke received her Doctorate of Optometry from Nova Southeastern University. While in school, she discovered that she can combine her desire to encourage children to pursue excellence in education with her passion for Optometry by pursuing a specialty in Pediatrics and Vision Therapy. She completed a competitive residency…

Read More


Is There An Age Limit For Vision Therapy?

No. There is no age limit because of the brain’s neuroplasticity. Our brains are dynamic and flexible. Just like a muscle or playing an instrument, the more we practice and hone our ability and memory, the more skillful we become. Children’s brains are more malleable than adults, and for this reason, it was assumed that children will have better results with Vision Therapy. While true, adults possess a strong motivation to make the treatment plan a success, and we treat patients of all ages.

Is Vision Therapy Only For Children or Also for Adults?

The most common misconception about vision therapy is that it is a treatment for children only. A fact that might surprise you is that vision therapy has been used extensively with adults and adult professional athletes to improve their hand and eye coordination and give them an edge in competitive sports. In many cases, vision therapy is actually more successful with adults than children, because adults are more motivated to make the treatment work. Over the years adults learn tricks to compensate for their visual problems, most adult patients who undergo therapy are blown away by the significant improvement in their quality of life now that they no longer have to compensate. One patient noted “I never knew that seeing should be as effortless as breathing!

How Can You Identify A Vision Problem?

Teachers, parents, and adults should learn to be on the lookout for the symptoms listed below as they may indicate a vision issue.

  • Lazy Eye, cross-eye, double vision

  • Difficulty Reading

  • Poor Classroom Performance

  • Difficulty staying focused

  • Strabismus

  • Poor hand-eye coordination

  • Constant squinting/head tilting

  • Uses fingers to read

  • Favors one eye over the other

  • Poor handwriting

  • Difficulties with geometric shapes

  • Headaches after reading or computer work

  • Feeling fatigue after reading or using the computer

The Vision Therapy Process

A trained optometrist will design a program specific to the condition by first identifying the underlying cause and discussing the possible impact on the patient’s lifestyle. The vision therapy program is much like anything else that you learn for the first time. By teaching the patient eye awareness and exercises using lenses, prisms, filters, images, and computers, we strengthen the focusing and movement muscles that are involved in vision.

It takes practice, dedication, and supervision.

Within several weeks to several months, both the patient and family will begin to notice whether the program is positively impacting the home life and translating it into their school work, sports program or hobby.

A good vision therapy program will be progressive, have measurable success and recognizable impact that will translate to reduced symptoms and improved visual performance.

If you think that you or someone you know may benefit from Vision Therapy, please contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions, and let you know more about our vision therapy services.

Does my child or I need vision therapy?

Many children and adults suffer from binocular vision disorders or vision related learning disabilities.

Patients with these conditions are often undiagnosed and struggling with reading, comprehension, math or even sports. They get headaches and unnecessary eye strain, frequently lose their place, cannot focus for long periods of studying or reading, and sometimes experience double vision.

When these symptoms go unrecognized the manifestation can be tiresome. Fights to get homework done, stress with a child falling behind in their classes, and difficulty motivating the students to go beyond the minimum effort are not uncommon. For students most often the manifestation is frustration and avoidance. The conditions described above are not limited to children and struggling students; clear and comfortable visual function is necessary for people who work long hours at the computer, athletes, or adults who choose reading as a hobby. When our eye doctor in Buckhead, Atlanta recognizes these conditions, often a pair of glasses will not solve the problem. In fact, in many cases, 20/20 eyesight is possible without glasses but the symptoms remain. Vision therapy is a proven treatment for many binocular vision disorders.

Vision Therapy Videos

Vision therapy for Vinings, Mableton & the greater Atlanta area

Vision therapy uses customized eye exercises to help both children and adults to retrain and improve the way in which their brains interact with their visual system. Our Vinings eye doctor, Dr. Locke, specializes in behavioral and developmental optometry, which aims to enhance a variety of visual skills – including focusing, eye teaming, eye tracking, eye-hand coordination, and visual processing. In our new Vinings eye care clinic, we will perform thorough evaluations of your functional vision in order to diagnose problems precisely and design the most helpful vision therapy sessions.

Who can benefit from vision therapy? In general, personalized vision therapy sessions can help people with lazy eye, eye turns, traumatic brain injury, reading issues, and the special needs population. If your child has a vision-related learning problem, we will customize eye exercises; vision therapy can resolve many of the obstacles that make learning more challenging than necessary. Vision therapy can also be beneficial for sports training, improving depth perception and eye tracking, speeding reaction times, and enhancing balance and coordination. Our experienced optometrist is happy to serve Buckhead, Brookhaven, Smyrna, Mableton, Vinings, and the greater Atlanta area with advanced vision therapy!

What’s there to see around Vinings, GA?

You can find Vinings, a desirable area amongst millennials, hidden in the suburbs slightly northwest of Downtown Atlanta and set alongside the Chattahoochee River. Vinings is brimming with a smooth blend of small-town Southern charm and contemporary sophistication.

View the history and art of Vinings

The Vinings Historic Preservation Society is a fantastic resource for learning all there is to know about the local landmarks. A popular historic site is the Pace House & Pavilion, now also used as an event venue. If you’re in the mood for a modern cultural experience, we recommend buying a ticket for a show at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, home to many Broadway shows as well as special concerts by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Gaze at Vinings scenery

This town’s proximity to the Chattahoochee River gives it a colorful backdrop of lovely views and fabulous outdoor activities. The Silver Comet Trail follows a former railroad trail that cuts through Georgia to Alabama and Tennessee. This well-known trail is a favorite for walkers, joggers, bikers, and rollerbladers to take in the lovely natural surroundings. There are wonderful views of Heritage Park, a lush park in Vinings that encompasses over 100 acres.

Shop & dine in Vinings

Shoppers – have no fear! We have our share of retail centers to satisfy any serious craving for stores. Cumberland Mall features many popular upscale shops, and the Vinings Jubilee has an impressive selection of posh boutiques. When hunger hits, Vinings has diverse dining options with many southern and international flavors to try. Take a seat at South City Kitchen for classic Atlanta fare, and head to Jim ‘N Nicks BBQ for a good ‘ole barbecue. McCray’s Tavern is our neighborhood sports pub of choice, and Orient Express is where our eye care staff goes for Asian cuisine.

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