When you’re a parent, you spend a lot of time worrying about the health of your kids. So, when one of them comes up to you and complains of a really bad headache, visions of brain tumors may creep in your mind. Relax, the headache may not be caused by any brain disorder. It might be nothing at all, or it could simply be trouble with vision.
Binocular vision disorder has quite a few symptoms and these interfere with assignments like reading or doing computer work. Someone who has this is going to have trouble focusing on reading material, and may have problems comprehending what is on the page. Parents may be curious as to why their pediatrician didn’t come to this. The reason is simple; checking for a binocular vision disorder is not a standard part of the pediatrician eye test.
Does This Sound Familiar?
Some of the common vision problems associated with children are binocular vision disorders. Amblyopia, commonly known as lazy eye, is a perfect example. The eyesight is affected because there is improper coordination between the eye and the brain. It causes a great deal of frustration in the child because he or she is having difficulty reading text.
A very serious problem involves misdiagnosis. Many people are concerned about their child having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, the symptoms may have nothing to do with being overactive but with convergence insufficiency. The child’s problem is having eyes that don’t quite work together as they should.
Because binocular vision disorder can result in the wrong treatment for ADHD, the effects can be enormous on the young student. He or she can show evidence of low self-esteem, not being able to concentrate properly, and having a great deal of difficulty in both reading and remembering instructions. The vision difficulty is one of the sources of frustration such children experience.
Remedies for Common Vision Problems in Children
The primary grades are an important time in the life of any learner. This is when a person is taught how to read effectively and understand complex words. Efforts can be frustrating with binocular vision disorders because even the easiest text becomes extremely difficult to read. That can make a child feel inadequate, and even develop an aversion to school.
Diagnosing a condition as a behavioral problem when it is in fact a vision problem makes matters worse. Remedial action should be taken as soon as possible to prevent a learning down spiral. Parents can request a binocular screening to determine if vision is a bigger problem than previously thought.
There are a number of tests the doctor may perform to assess any difficulties with vision, including:
- Developmental Eye Movement (DEM): Reading eye movements and assessing their accuracy.
- Sensory Fusion Assessment: This is a series of four separate examinations to discover if suppression, which can be part of an overall binocular vision disorder, is present.
- Near Point of Convergence (NPC): The test will find out if convergence and divergence dysfunctions are causing problems.
- Accommodative Convergence/Accommodation (AC/A): Any evidence of accommodation which exists is discovered by the results of this test.
This sounds like a lot of medical mumbo jumbo to the average person. But, parents should keep in mind that these vision tests can deduce what the real problem is. Therapy and medication for ADHD is important if in fact the condition exists. However, the vision problem may be what is causing the learning challenges.
Vision may also be exacerbating the problem with attention deficit. Effective treatment may include certain therapies that will address any problems with sight. It can result in a very comprehensive strategy of treatments which will help the child learn better.
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The tests reveal if there is a problem and the nature of it. This permits the right type of treatment and therapy to be used. There are several common forms.
A child with a diagnosis of amblyopia might be given an eye patch for a period of time to strengthen the weaker eye. A situation of crossed eyes may require extended therapy to be corrected, but it can be improved if the therapy is followed. The length of time required is something that a parent has to accept. The improvement may not necessarily happen overnight.
Vision therapy may require office visits. These can be as often as two times a week and a parent should expect to have a child in therapy for up to an hour each visit. It can be an inconvenience but it is very necessary.
There is no magic pill. In fact, you really don’t want to have a situation where medicine will solve the problem. Our society currently has a bad habit of overmedicating ourselves and our children. While prescription drugs are essential in many cases, it should not be the first resort to resolving the issue.
You are the first person your child turns to for help. They are going to take seriously anything that you consider to be important. Your involvement in the therapy shows a commitment to helping solve the problem.
The Right Diagnosis Will Help
An immediate benefit of the right diagnosis and therapy is in the classroom. The child starts reading with better comprehension and has a clear understanding of instructions. It goes without saying the young person’s self-confidence begins to grow. School becomes a fun place to be and not a chamber of horrors.
All this makes it important to take the right actions at the beginning. If there’s a problem in school that involves reading, a binocular vision disorder test should be requested. This is above and beyond the ordinary pediatric exam, and can uncover a vision problem. A parent may also consider having the child tested for vision before examining for ADHD.
This does not mean that the child does not have attention deficit. However, if ADHD is present then perhaps vision therapy may be needed to complement any behavioral therapy. Vision may be part of the problem and vision therapy part of the solution.