I had an interesting conversation today with a mother from Pennsylvania. Her daughter has been struggling in school for some time, and after a vision exam has been diagnosed with a “visual issue”. The doctor — who I know first hand to have an excellent reputation –recommended 6 months of Vision Therapy.
It was evident to me early on in the conversation that this mother was very concerned about her child. Mom spent a few minutes explaining her daughter’s difficulties, explaining the significant financial considerations and sacrifices she and her husband were going to endure because the costs for Vision Therapy are considerable, explaining the drive of over an hour (each way) to complete these weekly visits, and explaining the overall lifestyle adjustment the entire family was considering in order to get this little girl Vision Therapy. After a long pause, mom came to a question of “Is Vision Therapy worth it?
My answer: Yes
See, Vision Therapy offers patients the opportunity to rebuild and replace the inefficient visual skills. Since vision is the predominant sense in human beings, so much of what we know about the world, even beyond academics, is based of visual input. In fact, it is estimated that 92% of our brain’s input is through the visual system. The other four senses are relied upon to a far lesser degree. Therefore, if your visual system is inefficient , your input is not always going to correct. If your input is incorrect or inaccurate, your response will most definitely be inappropriate because you are making judgements based on bad information. I believe this child is trying hard….probably harder than anyone else in the class. The problem is the information she’s processing and using to form decisions is inaccurate because of poor visual skills, and therefore no amount of effort will produce the correct answer.
After I explained this to this mom in Pennsylvania, other pieces began to click. “Could this be why she can’t kick a rolling soccer ball?”, I answered “Yes, she cannot time the kick because of poor visual input”. “Could this be why she gets car sick?”, again I answered “Yes, when the visual system is inefficient, it can create ‘mismatches” from one eye to the other. That is to say the brain is receiving two totally different pictures; one from the right eye and one from the left eye, and the pictures do match. When you have this condition is a dynamic setting, like a car, the person can have a visceral response as the brain becomes overloaded with these mismatches”. I went on to explain that anything her daughter does with her eyes opened is affected by vision. All the concerns she had about her child could be directly related back to the visual system and faulty input.
As the conversation concluded I asked her “do you now think Vision Therapy is worth it?”
Her answer: “Yes”
Thanks Meredith, you made my day!