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Posted on 07-18-2015

Optometrists Care About Vision and Reading

Just back from the 21st Conference on Clinical Vision Care. As always the CCVC was sponsored by the Optometric Extension Program Foundation and held at the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. Behavioral optometrists join in extensive dialogue to explore both their uniqueness and common ground on a specific topic. This year's subject was "Vision and Reading." It's always a great meeting of the minds. The attendee who traveled the farthest this year was Dr. Paul Graham from Australia shown below:

Paul Graham, Optometrist - Gold Coast, Australia

One of the things we wanted to do was find a simple yet informative way to communicate the importance of the visual process in reading and learning to more people. Behavioral optometry has a long history of helping children overcome reading and learning problems. Proper reading lenses and vision therapy helps many children read more comfortably and with better comprehension. My group came up with the following:

Many children have difficulty reading. Do you think vision is important for reading? Some people don’t think so. Did you know that there is much more to vision than seeing clearly? Some people don’t understand this. The visual process, above all, directs our actions especially when it comes to gathering and processing information. Effective reading and writing are actions that are at their best when the visual process working properly. This means having effortless and accurate eye movement skills, eye teaming and focusing.

You could be excused for thinking there is disagreement about the relationship between vision and reading. Some professionals define vision as nothing more than the ability to see clearly. I think this is because most of these folks just don’t understand the visual process and how important it is in our lives. A huge portion of the brain is devoted to visual information processing. Behavioral optometrists define vision as something much more complex and typically refer to the visual process rather than the simple word vision. We test much more than how clearly a person sees across a room.

Behavioral optometrists ask the questions experience tells us will put us on the right path to understanding how a person uses the enormous potential of the visual process, in this case for reading and learning. We design our testing to understand the relationship between what a patient tells us and what our findings tell us. This helps us understand where the person is with regard to the development of their visual process, how they have adapted to any deficiencies, and how we might help improve things. Reading, writing and learning are almost always amenable to vision therapy and proper reading lenses.

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