What Is a Vision Therapy Exam or Vision Therapy Assessment?
Twenty percent of children have vision issues that affect their learning. The goal of a vision therapy exam (or a developmental eye exam) is to assess all aspects of the visual system to check if the patient needs glasses. They also test visual skills like tracking, focusing, binocularity, saccades, and color vision. All of these are vital skills for reading and learning.
How Long Is a Vision Therapy Exam?
The length of an exam will depend significantly on what comes up during the assessment. In many situations, the developmental optometrist will do more in-depth testing in areas where there was some concern voiced by the parent, the teacher, or if the optometrist noticed something. A typical developmental exam lasts from one hour to one-and-a-half hours.
If you have a few children scheduled one after the other, be aware that a developmental eye exam takes much longer than a standard eye exam. Consider calling the practice for advice on activities or parks in the area to keep the other kids busy.
What Is the Developmental Optometrist Looking For?
The developmental optometrist is looking at a variety of skills used for visual processing such as the ability to track, for the eyes to work together (teaming), and the ability to focus. Small exercises or tests are used to compare the child’s results with their developmental stage. When a certain skill is weak, the optometrist will use further tests to understand the exact visual-cognitive skills that need to be developed.
A big focus of the developmental eye exam is an assessment of skills that affect reading. Reading is a particularly challenging visual task which requires focusing, tracking the words across the page (with both eyes processing the same information), moving from one line to the next without skipping, etc. Short tests are carried out to assess things like the ability to track across pages and differentiate between similar looking letters.
The optometrist also looks for issues with eye alignment. For example, the patient will look at the tip of a stick while it is moved closer to the nose to detect misalignment. A long list of tests will be performed during the developmental eye exam. In some cases, the optometrist will utilize different computerized tests to assess visual tasks.
What Should I Bring to My Vision Therapy Eye Exam?
Patients should bring in their current prescription glasses or contacts.
What Happens After the Developmental Eye Exam?
After the exam, the optometrist will develop a custom training program for working with the vision therapists on staff as overseen by the doctor. Each patient has different skills that need developing. The length of therapy will depend heavily on the involvement of the patient and their progress in therapy.