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Does Your Child Have 20/20 Eyesight Yet Still Struggles In School?

teacher with kids needing vision therapyYour child aced their school’s vision screening test with 20/20 eyesight. That means perfect vision, right?

Actually, no. 20/20 simply means that your child can clearly see things that are 20 feet away. While that’s good news, clear eyesight doesn’t mean a student has strong visual skills.

There are 17 crucial visual skills that can impact your child’s success in school and on the sports field. Fortunately, most children are able to improve their visual skills with Optometric Vision Therapy.

What Are Visual Skills?

A healthy visual system relies not only on healthy vision, but on the eyes’ ability to move correctly, send the correct information to the brain, and the brain’s ability to interpret this information. If any one of these visual skills is sub-par, it can impact a child’s reading, writing and learning. This, in turn, can harm their motivation and self-confidence.

The visual skills needed to succeed in school (and life) include:

  • Eye movement – the ability to accurately control the eye’s movements
  • Eye teaming – the ability of both eyes to work together
  • Focusing – the ability to maintain clear vision at all distances
  • Peripheral vision – seeing objects at the sides of our vision
  • Saccades – the ability for vision to jump between focal points

When 20/20 Vision Doesn’t Measure Up

When a child scores 20/20 on a simple vision test, problems with visual skills often go unnoticed because basic screenings rarely assess beyond eyesight. It’s no wonder that 1 out of 4 schoolchildren has an undiagnosed vision problem! That’s a lot of children struggling unnecessarily, and well into adulthood.

Only a functional eye exam performed by an eye doctor can detect subpar visual skills.

Signs Your Child Has a Visual Problem

Schedule a functional eye exam if your child:

  • Has learning difficulties
  • Reads below grade level
  • Exhibits behavioral problems
  • Has difficulty paying attention
  • Frequently rubs their eyes or blinks frequently
  • Squints or covers one eye when reading
  • Has poor hand-eye coordination

How Do You Improve Visual Skills in Children?

If your child is diagnosed with any visual skills deficits, their eye doctor may recommend Optometric Vision Therapy. This form of therapy involves the use of specialized eye exercises, prisms, therapeutic lenses and even fun computer-based games that recalibrate how the brain and eyes work together. Optometric Vision Therapy involves a customized program to meet the individual needs of each child. The therapy is performed in-office and at home between office sessions.

Optometric Vision Therapy is ideal for kids because their brains are still developing and have greater neuroplasticity (meaning, their brains are more adaptable to change through the strengthening of neural connections).

While the Optometric Vision Therapy program can range from a few weeks to several months, the results last a lifetime.

If your child is struggling to keep up in school or when playing sports, don’t delay and schedule an appointment with Dr. Dick O'Connor or Dr. Alyssa Fortuna at Vision Development of WNY.

Our practice serves patients from Elma, Buffalo, SouthTowns, and Western New York, New York and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dick O'Connor & Dr. Alyssa Fortuna

Q: What is the success rate of Optometric Vision Therapy?

  • A: Optometric Vision Therapy is a proven method to boost deficient visual skills and treat the visual system. In a multi-center National Eye Institute-funded study, 75% of patients with convergence insufficiency (problems with eye teaming), experienced normal vision or significantly improved symptoms following office-based Optometric Vision Therapy.

Q: Can Optometric Vision Therapy treat strabismus?

  • A: Yes. Optometric Vision Therapy is the most effective and non-invasive treatment for strabismus— when the eyes don’t fixate or focus on the same place or visual target simultaneously. Eye exercises that train the brain and the eyes to work together can correct the eye turn and may even result in vision improvements, such as 3D vision and binocular depth perception.

References

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Should My Child Have Optometric Vision Therapy?

Should My Child Have Vision Therapy 640×350Children may fail to recognize that they’re having difficulty reading, or that their eyes are struggling to focus, so it’s up to parents and teachers to be aware of the many visual problems that are common in children of all ages.

About one in four school-aged children has a visual problem, but school vision screenings aren’t equipped to diagnose the majority of visual deficits.

This is concerning, given that visual dysfunction is strongly linked to behavioral problems and poor academic performance. Only a comprehensive eye exam can examine your child’s eyesight, determine whether they have visual deficits and assess whether they can be treated with Optometric Vision Therapy.

What Is Optometric Vision Therapy?

Optometric Vision Therapy is an evidence-based treatment program developed over decades that has undergone extensive research and clinical trials to prove its effectiveness.

Optometric Vision Therapy works by strengthening the communication between the visual system and the brain through a customized program of eye [exercises] prescribed by an eye doctor. Just as physical therapy trains your muscles to function normally, Optometric Vision Therapy applies the same principle to strengthen eye-brain communication. Even children with 20/20 vision can have visual problems, such as eye-tracking, focusing, and eye teaming.

Can Children Undergo Optometric Vision Therapy?

Optometric Vision Therapy is ideal for children as it can correct problems early on, while their brains are still developing. Furthermore, Optometric Vision Therapy doesn’t involve invasive procedures or medications, so it’s an appropriate treatment method—even for young children. It’s also engaging for children, as many of the activities and exercises use objects such as prisms, special lenses and computerized exercises.

VT Works Wonders for the Following Vision Conditions:

Optometric Vision Therapy for Strabismus (Crossed Eyes)

Strabismus, also known as crossed eye or eye turn, is a condition where the eyes are turned in different directions from each other. One eye might be looking straight while the other is turned in or out. The eye turn might be constant or intermittent.

Optometric Vision Therapyfor Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)

Amblyopia is more commonly known as lazy eye and occurs when one eye doesn’t develop the same level of visual acuity as the other eye. Lazy eye results when the brain develops a stronger connection with the clearer eye and fails to process the images sent from the weaker eye. This can eventually lead to permanent vision loss in the weaker eye. Optometric Vision Therapy works by strengthening the weaker eye to “balance” vision.

Optometric Vision Therapy for Accommodative (Focusing) Disorders

Many children struggle to maintain focus for hours on end, impacting their school performance. These eye disorders affect a child’s ability to maintain focus or switch focus between various objects or distances, causing blurred vision and attention difficulties.

Optometric Vision Therapy for Eye Movement Disorders

Optometric Vision Therapy can treat many eye movement disorders, such as eye-tracking problems and more complex eye movement problems characterized by involuntary eye movements, such as nystagmus. Eye movement problems can hamper reading fluency and cause double or blurred vision.

Optometric Vision Therapy is commonly used to treat a form of eye movement disorder called convergence insufficiency, characterized by the inability to maintain focus on close objects or while reading. This can result in eye strain and reduced concentration, significantly affecting a child’s reading grades and even sports performance.

How Can I Tell Whether My Child Has Vision Problems?

To determine whether your child has a vision problem and can benefit from Optometric Vision Therapy, our Elma eye doctor will carry out a comprehensive eye exam, including an assessment of their functional visual skills, lazy eye and more. This test, known as a functional eye exam, goes beyond the standard “20/20” sight test and is performed by eye doctors with experience and years of training in Optometric Vision Therapy.

Once your optometrist determines that Optometric Vision Therapy is the suitable treatment, he or she will create a personalized plan of exercises and eye activities based on the patient’s condition, age and other factors. The therapy typically includes any of the following:

  • Prisms
  • Lenses
  • Filters
  • Balance boards
  • Metronomes
  • Computer-based activities

Sessions last between 45 to 60 minutes and take place once or twice a week, or for less serious conditions, every two weeks. Optometric Vision Therapy typically lasts a few months.

To find out whether your child has any vision problems or to learn more about Optometric Vision Therapy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Dick O'Connor or Dr. Alyssa Fortuna at Vision Development of WNY today!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dick O'Connor & Dr. Alyssa Fortuna

Q: Does Optometric Vision Therapy mean my child will no longer need glasses or contact lenses?

  • A: No. Optometric Vision Therapy performed under the guidance of an optometrist should not be confused with [unauthorized] programs that promise patients they will no longer need glasses or contacts. Optometric Vision Therapy doesn’t treat refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism that eyewear is often prescribed to correct.

Q: How long will it take before my child sees results from Optometric Vision Therapy?

  • A: Some children experience results from Optometric Vision Therapy in the first week, but it typically takes about six to eight weeks to notice a dramatic change. This, of course, hinges on how consistent the child is with performing exercises during the week.

Our practice serves patients from Elma, Buffalo, SouthTowns, and Western New York, New York and surrounding communities.

References

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Covid Safety & Mask Protocols

Dear Valued Patients, image6

We give thanks to God for sustaining us through these last two bizarre and very difficult years. But we came through it TOGETHER! ! !

We are very pleased to announce that due to lifted mandates, as of March 15, 2022 we will be mask-optional!!!

We respect each person’s choice to wear or not wear a mask and will do our best to accommodate your comfort level, please just let us know when you come in, or call in advance 716 398-4300. image5

IMPORTANT NOTE: While we’re relaxing our mask protocol, we are not relaxing our SAFETY protocol which will still include asking and observing if you have any symptoms or have been exposed to anyone with symptoms such as cough, sneeze, runny nose, sniffles, stomach ache, etc. If so, we require you to reschedule and we’ll give you the same courtesy. Let’s face it, none of us needs to share “just” a cold, allergies or the flu. image1

Thank you for two years of understanding and compliance! We look forward to SEEING you! Celebrating with you!

Dr. O’Connor, Dr. Fortuna & all our smiling Team

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Toys and Games to Help Your Child Succeed in School

Adult and Child Playing Games

If your child is showing signs of a learning difficulty, it is important to rule out an underlying vision problem that may be hindering their ability to successfully complete the tasks required for academic achievement.

Early detection of a vision problem is crucial for preventing years of learning difficulties and feelings of frustration and reduced self-esteem. Contact Vision Development of WNY to book a comprehensive eye exam and assess whether any underperforming visual skills may be interfering with your child’s academic achievement.

Below are a few ideas of toys and games that promote children’s visual skills.

Building Toys

Building toys fuels the imagination develops spatial awareness and spatial organization skills. These skills are useful in understanding maps, geography and geometry, and solving math problems. Spatial awareness is also essential for sports and dancing.

When children build with toys, they also develop hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills and visualization skills.

Popular building toys include Legos, Lincoln Logs, Duplos, Mega Bloks, Magnatiles and Clics.

Games for Visual Processing

Children develop visual processing and reasoning by playing checkers, chess, dominoes and Rush Hour.

Memory games require players to identify pairs from memorized pictures, develop cognitive and visual skills. Puzzles and games strengthen visual skills [utilized] in geometry, math problems and reading comprehension.

Visual processing skills are essential not only in school but in life. They help us navigate using written directions, detect visual patterns, gather clues from the world around us and notice essential details.

Spatial Awareness Games

Spatial awareness is the process by which people become aware of themselves and other objects in the space around them. This is important for developing peripheral vision and a range of visual skills. Playing “ball” sports such as baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball and ping pong develops space perception and hand-eye coordination. These games require a fast reaction and an exact perception of the location of any object around you and how far or close the object is.

In addition to sports, marbles and pick-up sticks also encourage three-dimensional depth perception, which can also improve visual skills such as eye-tracking, eye muscle coordination and focusing.

A Child’s Vision Is Vital for Fun and Learning

Vision involves more than just seeing clearly. It gives children the confidence to join in games and participate in school. Often what appears to be a lack of interest in studies or behavior difficulties can be caused by underdeveloped visual skills.

School vision screenings are rudimentary and aren’t designed to assess a child’s visual skills. Even a child with 20/20 vision can have visual skills deficits.

If you suspect your child is struggling in school, bring them to Vision Development of WNY for a functional vision evaluation.

If an issue with visual functioning is detected, your eye doctor can map out a personalized therapeutic program to suit your child’s needs. Research supports Optometric Vision Therapy as an effective treatment for a wide range of functional vision problems. Optometric Vision Therapy is like a gym that trains the brain and the eyes to work together and improve eye-brain-body coordination.

For more information or to schedule a functional vision evaluation, call Vision Development of WNY today.

Our practice serves patients from Elma, Buffalo, SouthTowns, and Western New York, New York and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dick O'Connor & Dr. Alyssa Fortuna

Q: How common are vision problems in children?

  • A: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 2 out of every 1,000 people under the age of 25 have a vision impairment and 5.6% of children with learning disabilities have poor visual skills.

Q: What eye conditions can Optometric Vision Therapy treat?

  • A: Optometric Vision Therapy is a non-surgical, personalized program that corrects vision problems in children and adults. The following conditions are commonly treated using Optometric Vision Therapy:
    – Amblyopia or lazy eye
    – Strabismus or irregular eye alignment
    – Binocular vision problems
    – Focusing problems

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Find Out How We Can Help You! 716-300-5269

4 Reasons Why 3D Vision is So Important

Woman Covering One Eye to Test 3D VisionOur sense of depth perception and ability to see in 3 dimensions are often-overlooked benefits of our complex visual system.

Our eyes gather a significant amount of visual data as we observe our surroundings. Both eyes send this gathered data back to the brain, where it is interpreted and combined into a single cohesive image.

The fact that the eyes are set a small distance apart from each other allows them to gather slightly different sets of visual information, which the brain interprets as depth and distance when combining the two images. This produces 3-D vision.

Here are our top 4 reasons why 3D vision is so crucial:

1. Learning

3D vision plays a key role in a child’s ability to learn in school. Children who have problems with 3D depth perception will often have difficulty with spatial skills and visualization. This impacts their ability to form letters correctly, develop accurate word memory and easily understand complex shapes. These challenges can significantly undermine their reading speed, spelling abilities, handwriting, understanding of mathematics and comprehension.

3D vision is especially important in subjects such as geometry, where a sense of depth and space are essential to understanding basic concepts.

2. Sports

In sports like basketball, football and soccer, it’s essential to know where other teammates are standing on the field or court in order to pass the ball. It’s also a key part of catching incoming passes and judging the distance to the basket or goal post.

In baseball, 3D vision is necessary for sizing up the ball as it comes across the plate, for judging distances, swinging, catching and hitting, and running the bases.

3. Driving

Driving safely is absolutely tied to depth perception and the ability to see in 3D. Without them, drivers may not be able to avoid hitting other cars, know when it is safe to change lanes, and how far to go when backing into or moving out of parking spots to avoid other cars, the curb or pedestrians.

Accurate 3D vision is particularly important at night, where there are fewer visual cues, such as the size and movement of nearby objects, to make quick decisions.

4. Day-To-Day Tasks

Even the most basic day-to-day tasks, such as shaking another person’s hand, are made easier with proper depth perception and 3D vision.

3D vision also makes the world around you safer. Crossing the street requires you to estimate the distance between yourself and any cars that may be on the street, as well as the speed those cars are traveling. Even walking downstairs can be hazardous if you can’t properly gauge the distance from each step down to the next.

Your Eye Doctor Can Help With 3D Vision Issues

If you’re experiencing difficulties with 3D vision, speak to your eye doctor about vision therapy. This doctor-prescribed, evidence-based regimen of in-office and at-home eye exercises helps reset and strengthen the connection between your eyes and your brain. For 3D vision, this means helping coordinate the signals coming from your brain to each eye, so that the eyes can move and focus in unison.

For more information about 3D vision, and how our eye doctors can help, visit Vision Development of WNY today.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dick O'Connor & Dr. Alyssa Fortuna

Q: How can vision therapy help with 3D vision issues?

  • A: After we perform a functional eye exam to confirm that vision therapy is the right choice for you or your child, we’ll begin creating a customized therapy program for your specific needs. The vision therapy program will help strengthen the connection between the eyes and brain, to help the entire visual system work together more effectively and efficiently. In the case of 3D vision issues, this may mean working on helping the eyes move in unison more effectively or improving the eyes’ ability to converge effectively on objects close-up.Though vision therapy can sometimes take a while to address the problem (4 to 6 months on average), it is usually quite successful.

Q: What is the difference between a functional eye exam and a standard eye exam?

  • A: A standard eye exam will check for visual acuity and the presence of eye disease. However, a standard exam doesn’t assess eye teaming, convergence/divergence and other problems affecting 3D and binocular vision. That’s why a functional eye exam is so important. If your child is behind in school or having developmental issues, these may be tied to vision problems that can be detected as part of a functional eye exam.

Our practice serves patients from Elma, Buffalo, SouthTowns, and Western New York, New York and surrounding communities.

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Find Out How We Can Help You! 716-300-5269

Double Vision After Brain Surgery

Double Vision After Brain Surgery 640×350Double vision (diplopia) can occur after a traumatic brain injury, a stroke or certain types of surgery due to a disruption in the connection between the nerves and extraocular muscles that control the eyes’ position and movements.

Diplopia following brain surgery is usually temporary and can take a few days or weeks to resolve, depending on the source of the problem. In the meantime, people who suffer from double vision after an operation can benefit from specific glasses and neuro-optometric rehabilitation through eye exercises that help restore single vision.

If you are experiencing diplopia after brain surgery and want to know which treatment is right for you, make an appointment with at today.

What Causes Double Vision After Brain Surgery?

The brain is connected to the eyes through a network of nerves — including the optic nerve — that controls the movement and alignment of the eyes. These nerves can be impacted by brain disorders, tumors and strokes, or during brain cranial surgery. Brain surgeries can disrupt the connection between the brain and the eyes, resulting in the misalignment of the eyes and double vision.

Alternatively, the muscles surrounding the eyes that keep the eyes aligned and focused can be damaged during surgery, affecting their ability to perform accurately and effectively.

Ordinarily, having two eyes means the brain receives two images, which it converts into one single 3D image of the world. However, an injury to the eye muscles can cause an eye misalignment, making it impossible for the brain to fuse the two images into one single, clear image — resulting in double vision.

What Are Other Symptoms of Damage to the Visual System?

Although the most obvious sign of damage to the visual system after brain surgery is double vision, patients may experience any of the symptoms below:

  • Eyestrain
  • Crossed eyes
  • Headaches
  • Pain when moving the eye
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Nausea
  • Eye weakness

How to Treat Diplopia After Brain Surgery

There are several treatments for diplopia after brain surgery.

Prism glasses

After an eye exam your eye doctor may prescribe prism glasses that work by altering the path of light rays and compensate for any misalignment of the two eyes. These lenses allow the brain to fuse the two images from the eyes to create a clear and single 3D view of the world around us.

Eye Patches

Your eye doctor may recommend wearing an eye patch because it removes the second image from a weaker eye reaching the brain. Using a patch can temporarily remove the visual disturbance and prevent you from seeing double images, but is often not the best long-term solution. It is important to follow a precise regimen for eye patch wearing and not deviate from the instructions without first consulting your doctor.

Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation

One effective way to regain clear and comfortable vision after brain surgery is through neuro-optometric rehabilitation, which is a personalized eye exercise program that will strengthen the connection between the brain and your eye muscles, with the goal of improving your quality of life by regaining your clear 3D vision.

Following a functional vision evaluation to assess visual problems, your optometrist may prescribe customized exercises to re-establish the effective communication between your eyes and brain.

How Long Will It Take to Recover from Diplopia?

Usually, diplopia that develops following surgery is temporary, and with treatment, regular vision can be restored in days or weeks. In cases that persist, eye patching, prism glasses and neuro-optometric rehabilitation usually resolve diplopia within weeks or months. In rare cases, eye surgery may be required to correct diplopia.

If you are experiencing double vision after brain surgery, schedule an appointment with today.

Our practice serves patients from Elma, Buffalo, SouthTowns, and Western New York, New York and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dick O'Connor & Dr. Alyssa Fortuna

Q: What are the different types of diplopia?

A: All types of diplopia involve seeing two images, but there are different forms of diplopia, depending on the positioning.

  • – Horizontal diplopia – images are separated laterally
  • – Vertical diplopia – one image is higher than the other
  • – Monocular diplopia – diplopia continues in one eye when the other is closed.

Monocular diplopia can be caused by conditions such as astigmatism, cataracts or keratoconus. Diplopia can be temporary, intermittent or constant.

Q: What are the common causes of diplopia?

A: Diplopia can be caused by the following: Brain trauma or brain tumor

  • – Stroke
  • – Eye problems like keratoconus, dry eye and cataracts
  • – Brain surgery
  • – Cranial nerve palsy
  • – Eyestrain

Screen Time Can Lead To Eye Strain And Convergence Insufficiency In Children

Computer Screen Which Can Lead to Eyestrain

Now that a couple of years have passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have gotten a clearer picture of the impact that online schooling has had on children’s eyes.

Not only have myopia cases increased, but more children are experiencing symptoms of eye strain and convergence insufficiency due to extended screen time.

Below, we explore what eye strain and convergence insufficiency are, and how vision therapy can help counteract the negative effects of online learning.

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

Prolonged use of digital devices like computers or smartphones can cause a condition called computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain. This condition affects around 50% of adults and children.

Symptoms of digital eye strain include:

  • Sore eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Headaches

Children who complain of any of these symptoms should have their eyes evaluated by a developmental optometrist to ensure that vision problems aren’t exacerbating their symptoms.

What is Convergence Insufficiency?

Normally, when your eyes focus on a very near object, like a pencil near your nose, they must point slightly inwards to see a unified and clear image.

With convergence insufficiency, the eyes aren’t able to work in unison to point inward. Instead, one eye may point outward when trying to focus on a near object, leading to blurred or double vision.

Children with convergence insufficiency may struggle to perform visually demanding near tasks like reading and homework. In fact, many children who have vision-related learning problems are often misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities.

How Does Screen Time Lead to Eye Strain and Convergence Insufficiency?

Experts at Wills Eye Hospital recently studied the correlation between prolonged screen time and its effects on children’s eyes. They surveyed 110 students aged 10-17 who attended classes online. Prior to the beginning of online sessions, the students all had healthy vision.

The researchers discovered that the number of hours spent in front of a screen directly correlated to the likelihood of developing digital eye strain and convergence insufficiency. More than half of the students experienced symptoms of both visual conditions, with 17% of cases being severe convergence insufficiency.

These important and timely findings should alert parents to the risks that come with online learning, and encourage them to find solutions and take preventative measures to keep their kids’ eyes healthy. Fortunately, that’s where vision therapy comes in.

How Can Vision Therapy Help?

Vision therapy trains the eyes and brain to work together efficiently to resolve a wide range of visual dysfunctions.

Restoring healthy binocular vision is the goal for children with convergence insufficiency, and vision therapy is a primary treatment for accomplishing that.

According to the National Eye Institute, most children with convergence insufficiency experience significant improvement after just 12 weeks of vision therapy.

Vision therapy can also be effective for treating symptoms of digital eye strain in children. According to the Optometrists Network, a free and extensive online library for eye care, vision therapy can relieve symptoms of digital eye strain by strengthening the visual system.

To learn more about the benefits of vision therapy or to schedule your child’s functional visual evaluation, contact Vision Development of WNY today!

Vision Development of WNY offers vision therapy to patients from Elma, Buffalo, SouthTowns, and Western New York, New York and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dick O'Connor & Dr. Alyssa Fortuna

Q: What is a functional vision evaluation?

  • A: A functional visual evaluation assesses a multitude of visual skills that normally aren’t tested in standard eye exams or vision screenings. Some examples of those visual skills include convergence, eye tracking and teaming, visual processing, eye movement, focusing, eye alignment and accommodation flexibility.

Q: Who is a candidate for vision therapy?

  • A: Children and adults who have varying degrees of visual dysfunction are ideal candidates for vision therapy. Many patients may not be aware of problems with their visual systems but suffer from symptoms like headaches or dizziness, which may be rooted in their vision. Children with learning problems or any visual symptoms may benefit from a customized vision therapy program.

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Find Out How We Can Help You! 716-300-5269

Long-Term Risks of Repeated Head Impacts Among Athletes

Athletes at risk for neuro traumaIf you’ve ever had a concussion or any other type of brain injury, you likely experienced at least some of the symptoms caused by head impacts: headaches, difficulty concentrating, problems with balance, visual problems and even anger management issues.

A single concussion is bad enough, but multiple studies published in National Academies Press (2014) revealed that experiencing as little as two concussions can sometimes lead to serious life-long problems.

Unfortunately, head hits that occur while playing contact sports are common, and the health repercussions of these impacts can be severe.

Here are six long-term risks of multiple concussions and repetitive head impacts:

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

CTE is a degenerative brain disease that affects athletes, military veterans and anyone who has experienced repeated brain trauma. Specific proteins (called tau proteins) form clumps in the brain of those with CTE, and these clumps eventually spread throughout the brain, permanently damaging and causing the death of brain cells. Progressive memory and cognition loss, depression, suicidal ideation, poor impulse control, aggression, Parkinsonism, and dementia are among the clinical indications of CTE.

Two case reports published in Neurosurgery involving two National Football League (NFL) players were the first to use the phrase. After long careers playing football in high school, college and professionally, these players suffered from a variety of neuropsychological symptoms.

Evidence suggests that CTE is caused by repeated head blows over a period of years, according to Clinics in Sports Medicine (2011). It’s crucial to understand that you don’t have to have a full-fledged concussion to develop this disease.

Depression

Depression is a mental disorder that affects one’s feelings, thoughts and actions. It can limit a person’s ability to perform at work, at school and at home. Loss of interest in previously loved hobbies, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances and thoughts of death or suicide are all possible symptoms.

Research published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (2007) discovered a growing linear association between concussion history and being diagnosed with long-term depression. Retired athletes who had three or more concussions were three times more likely than those who had never had a concussion to be diagnosed with depression. Those who had one or two previous concussions had 1.5 times the chance of being diagnosed with depression.

Dementia Pugilistica

Dementia pugilistica, sometimes known as ‘punch-drunk condition,’ is a neurological disease that affects people who have experienced many concussions. The term ‘pugil’ comes from Latin and means ‘boxer’ or ‘fighter.’ The condition was initially diagnosed in boxers in the 1920s. Tremors, sluggish movement, speech difficulties, disorientation, a lack of coordination and memory loss are all prominent symptoms of this disease.

Dementia pugilistica is a kind of CTE that has some microscopic histological characteristics in common with Alzheimer’s disease. While it was first discovered in boxers who were subjected to repeated head hits in a 1973 study published in Psychological Medicine, athletes in other sports may be affected as well.

Neurocognitive Impairments

A concussion’s signs and symptoms can often affect one’s cognitive abilities, resulting in the inability to concentrate, disorientation, irritation and loss of balance. When you have more than one traumatic brain injury in your life, you may be more likely to experience long-term, possibly progressive, disability that impairs your ability to function.

According to the National Academies Press (2014), studies show that recurrent head impacts in football and hockey players cause abnormalities in cognitive function in the brain. In one study, researchers discovered that the impacted athletes had neurocognitive abnormalities in both working and visual memory. In another study, affected football players were found to have problems with impulse control and balance after the sports season concluded.

Slower Neurological Recovery

Despite the fact that millions of people suffer concussions each year, the risks of a prolonged neurological recovery after multiple concussions are still largely unknown. Nonetheless, according to a study published by the National Academies Press in 2014, a history of many concussions may be linked to a longer recovery of brain function after another concussion. According to the findings, repeated concussions may result in lifelong neurocognitive impaieyerment.

This is why it’s crucial to refrain from engaging in any sports or dangerous activities until you’ve fully recovered from a head impact.

Brain Injury and Your Vision

Head trauma and concussions can have major effects on the visual system, despite normal medical imaging results. The group symptoms causing blurred vision, eye coordination issues and dizziness following head trauma is called post-trauma vision syndrome.

Even mild concussions can cause visual dysfunction, such as double vision, accommodative dysfunction, convergence insufficiency, sensitivity to light, eye tracking problems and delayed visual processing.

How Can A Neuro-Optometrist Help?

Neuro-optometry is a branch of optometry that focuses on helping individuals with neurological disorders regain their visual and oculomotor skills. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy aims to improve a patient’s ability to function independently in a multisensory environment.

At Vision Development of WNY, we know all too well the challenges that accompany repeated head impacts. To schedule a functional vision evaluation and determine if there is a problem with your visual system, call Vision Development of WNY today.

Vision Development of WNY offers neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy to patients from Elma, Buffalo, SouthTowns and Western New York, New York and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dick O'Connor & Dr. Alyssa Fortuna

Q: What is a concussion?

  • A: A concussion is a type of brain injury in which a blow to the head causes a momentary loss of brain function. When a person’s brain is violently moved back and forth or twisted inside the skull due to a direct or indirect force, an injury occurs. A concussion causes disruption in brain function and should be treated as a serious injury. Following a concussion, proper healing and recovery time are critical in preventing additional injury.

Q: What does a neuro-optometrist do?

  • A: A neuro-optometrist can assess functional binocularity, spatial vision and visual processing abilities, as well as functional binocularity and visual processing abilities. Following diagnosis, a comprehensive management program will be prescribed. Neuro-optometrists can also diagnose general eye health problems and correct refractive errors with glasses or contact lenses to increase visual acuity.

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Find Out How We Can Help You! 716-300-5269

4 Reasons Why Your Child May Be Refusing to Read

4 Reasons Why Your Child May Be Refusing to Read 640×350Reading involves the simultaneous coordination of a number of basic visual skills. For children who have not yet mastered some of these skills, reading can be an exercise in frustration, leading them to avoid reading altogether.

While many of us take our eyes’ ability to converge, focus and track for granted, those with underdeveloped visual skills often struggle to keep track of where they are on the page and to fully understand and remember what they’ve just read.

We’ve outlined four of the top vision-related reasons why children refuse to read, and how Optometric Vision Therapy can help your child become a more confident reader.

1. Eye Tracking Problems

Eye tracking is the eyes’ ability to move smoothly and accurately from place to place. Good eye tracking skills allow a child to keep their eyes on an incoming baseball or move successfully from word to word on a page of text without losing their place.

For a child with eye-tracking issues, eye movements will be slow and inaccurate, often seen as eye flickering or requiring extra head movements, to compensate for the reduced visual skill.

Poor eye tracking can cause a child to frequently lose their spot and skip words or even whole lines of text while reading. In this case, the child uses a lot more energy than their peers to simply keep track of where they are on the page, causing difficulty with reading comprehension and fluency.

2. Difficulties With Eye Teaming

Eye teaming is the eyes’ ability to work together to send accurate visual information to the brain. Although each eye sends a slightly different image, the brain is able to combine these two images into a single picture, allowing for three-dimensional vision and depth perception.

When children have problems with eye teaming, their eyes are unable to work together. They send two very distinct images to the brain, which struggles to easily combine the two images into a single clear, cohesive image.

A child attempting to read with eye teaming issues may experience eye strain, headaches or even double vision. Often, words on a page will look blurry or appear to ‘float’ on the page. Eye teaming difficulties may also cause the child to have a reduced attention span, and lead them to avoid reading or not read at grade level.

3. Visualization Problems

Visualization refers to the ability to see something in the mind’s eye even if that thing is not right there in front of us. This skill allows a child to recall words and remember how to spell words that they’ve previously seen. Visualization allows many of us to read a story and then ‘see’ the characters and events play through our mind as if we are watching a film.

For some children, however, this doesn’t happen. The brain has a hard time taking the visual information it’s receiving from the eyes and interpreting it into larger images and concepts. This can result in poor reading comprehension and may render that reading is a chore and an unenjoyable experience.

4. Issues with Accommodation

Accommodation is the ability to refocus the eyes each time we shift our gaze from one image or object to the next. This happens as a result of the swift and accurate contraction and relaxation of muscles in the eye to quickly focus and refocus as the eye moves.

In children with accommodation problems, the focusing muscles in the eyes do not smoothly contract and relax efficiently as their eyes move across the page from word to word or from a book (or screen) to the board and back. They need to stop and refocus their vision every time they read another word. This stop-and-start type of reading harms reading comprehension, and the constant need to refocus can cause headaches and eye strain.

So What’s The Solution?

All of the problems mentioned above are due to reduced visual skills and can be frustrating for children and parents alike. Fortunately, there is a solution: Optometric Vision Therapy.

Optometric Vision Therapy is a personalized, doctor-prescribed evidence-based regimen of in-office and at-home eye exercises to teach your child’s eyes and brain to more effectively work together. Depending on your child’s needs, the customized program may include Optometric Vision Therapy aids such as prism glasses, devices and specialized therapy computer programs.

Contact Vision Development of WNY to help your child get back on track with their reading and learning.

Vision Development of WNY offers Optometric Vision Therapy to patients from Elma, Buffalo, SouthTowns, and Western New York, New York and surrounding communities.

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Find Out How We Can Help You! 716-300-5269

How Concussions Can Affect Self-Esteem

How Concussions Can Affect Self Esteem 640X350When you consider the abundant functions of the brain, it’s no surprise that even slight damage to its sensitive tissues can wreak havoc on one’s physical and mental health. Many people experience some degree of emotional distress after suffering a head injury. But how can you tell if your symptoms are serious?

If you or a loved one has ever experienced a concussion, we urge you to learn more about the emotional and physical side effects it may bring, and discover how a neuro-optometrist can help.

What Occurs During a Concussion?

The nerves of the brain are surrounded by soft and fatty tissues, and these fragile nerves are further protected by a layer of fluid and the bony skull. During a sudden and forceful jolt or bump to the head or neck region, such as whiplash, the brain continues to move while the head has stopped moving. This causes the brain to slam into the inner walls of the skull or be shaken back and forth, resulting in a concussion.

This mild form of traumatic brain injury can damage or destroy brain cells, and may also negatively impact the healthy protective tissues surrounding the damaged cells.

Although concussions are considered ‘mild’ because they aren’t life-threatening, they can cause debilitating symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, blurred vision, balance problems, confusion and emotional distress, among others.

The Link Between Concussions and Self-Esteem

A concussion can negatively affect emotional well-being and self-esteem, both directly and indirectly.

A post-concussion patient may find it difficult to do the things they once enjoyed, like exercising, reading, doing schoolwork or even watching TV. Withdrawing from these activities, even temporarily, may result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and reduced self-worth. When you can’t read, concentrate or complete day-to-day activities as you once did, your limitations can become your main focus.

Concussions can also directly damage areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, directly affecting how a person relates to themselves and others.

A study published in Brain Injury (2014) concluded that a person’s self-concept may be impacted following a concussion/traumatic brain injury and that patients should seek treatment for emotional distress following a head injury.

Signs of Lowered Self-Esteem

Because each brain is unique, it’s hard to tell how a concussion will affect the patient, both in the short and long term. Here are a few signs that may reveal emotional distress and reduced self-esteem following a concussion:

  • Withdrawal from social events
  • Avoiding activities that were once enjoyable
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feeling unloved or unwanted
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Negative self-talk
  • Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance
  • Inability to accept compliments
  • Feelings of shame, depression or anxiety

If you or a loved one displays any of the above symptoms, rest assured that help is available.

How We Help Post-Concussion Patients

Recovering from a concussion can be difficult, but neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can help by improving the neural communication between the eyes and the brain and how an injured brain processes visual information.

Concussions can significantly affect the eye-brain connections, resulting in symptoms like dizziness, inability to concentrate, light sensitivity and headaches, as well as emotional distress.

A neuro-optometrist can improve the functioning of the visual system in ways that other professionals aren’t trained to, thereby reducing — even eliminating — these debilitating symptoms.

By training the brain and eyes to efficiently work in unison, visual skills will improve and you’ll find it easier to do things like reading, watching TV, using a computer and concentrating without taking as many breaks.

If you or a loved one has ever sustained a concussion, a functional vision evaluation may be called for to rule out visual dysfunction. Even if you’ve been told that nothing can be done by other health care professionals, we may be able to help, even years after the injury.

Let us help you get back to doing the things you love. To schedule a functional visual evaluation, call Vision Development of WNY today.

Vision Development of WNY offers neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy to patients from Elma, Buffalo, SouthTowns, and Western New York, New York and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dick O'Connor & Dr. Alyssa Fortuna

Q: What other conditions can neuro-optometry treat?

  • A: Neuro-optometrists help patients who’ve survived a stroke, sustained varying degrees of brain injury or have a neurological condition that impedes visual function. All of these conditions can adversely impact visual skills and may cause symptoms that hinder independent functioning and reduce one’s quality of life. By rehabilitating the visual system, a neuro-optometrist can provide relief and promote a greater degree of recovery to these patients.

Q: Do all optometrists provide neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy?

  • A: No. A neuro-optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry with specialized training in the area of visual system rehabilitation. A general optometrist performs eye exams, diagnoses and manages eye diseases and prescribes corrective lenses to patients. General optometrists do not have the training or experience to perform neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

Request an Appointment
Find Out How We Can Help You! 716-300-5269