Last weekend I had the opportunity to sit down for some continuing education from one of my favorite providers on my recommended post-concussion rehab team, Dr. John Metzger and the rest of his staff at Kansas City Vision Performance Center. Though I went into the event hoping to further hone my skills as a Post Concussion Syndrome rehab provider, I walked away with much more. Put simply, my knowledge base on vision development, assessment, and therapy exploded. If you or someone you know has visual issues, difficulty reading, focusing, following directions, poor hand-eye coordination, were born by C-section, or motion sickness, it’s a good bet that you may need some vision therapy.
Let’s dig in a little here and talk about why visual skill is important and why functional optometry is the wave of the future (even though it’s a profession over 70 years old).
When you go in for your standard eye exam, your provider is looking at two things: eye sight and eye health. Though important, these are just two of a multitude of factors that determine the true fitness of your eyes and vision. However, even if eye health and sight check out, there are several other factors that are equally if not more important. Generally categorized those factors are as follows:
- Eye coordination
- Eye tracking
- Visual Processing
In the medical community, we have been consistently taught that sight is one of our five senses (along with hearing, smell, taste, and touch). What has been largely ignored related to vision, is that this “sense” is actually more of a key factor in motor development than we previously thought. Think about it, what would poor visual skills do to your ability to learn to walk, talk, write, and perform math? The Optic Nerve, the nerve connecting your eyes to your brain, has more sensory fibers than all of your other senses combined. Another True Fact: 20-percent of Optic Nerve Fibers go to areas in the brain outside of the visual cortex in your Occipital Lobe. Meaning, your eyes do a lot more than tell your brain what’s in front of you.
Dr. Metzger and his staff gave several examples of pediatric patients who have struggled academically, behaviorally, and even in sports, who benefited tremendously from the in-depth vision screening and treatments they perform at their clinic. Kids who were previously diagnosed with learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD, or dyslexia, were found to have fundamental vision skill problems that were hindering their learning and behavior.
So what are you to do with this info?
First if you have children who struggle behaviorally, physically, or academically, I urge you to schedule an appointment at Kansas City Vision Performance Center as soon as you can. They offer screens for kids as young as Pre-K to make sure they start off on the right foot as they reach school age. What’s my angle? I get absolutely no kickbacks, I just want all of our kids to feel better and do better. This is a big step in the right direction to feeling and performing your best, regardless of your age.
For you do-it-your-selfers, I’ve got some goodies for you, too.
Check out Bal-a-Metrics (www.balametrics.com) for a variety of products you can use at home to promote better visual skill and sensory integration.
This 30-question predictive checklist, from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, can give parents a quick view of a potential vision problems that would be appropriately treated with vision therapy.
Do yourself (and your family) a favor, and go a little bit deeper to assess your true eye fitness. The difference vision therapy could make could be life-changing.
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