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Upcoming Webinar with Dr. Frazer

Upcoming Webinar with Dr. Frazer

December 6, 2017   /    Uncategorized   /    Comments Off on Upcoming Webinar with Dr. Frazer

Join Dr. Frazer for this FREE webinar to learn how tracking, focusing and eye teaming can interfere with reading fluency and the learning process.

20% of children lack the visual skills necessary to succeed in school. These necessary visual skills go beyond 20/20 vision. Dr. Frazer will review the most common symptoms of learning-related vision problems and the best methods of treatment.

Learning-Related Vision Symptoms:

  • Losing place on the page
  • Words run together when reading
  • Reversals of letters or words
  • Easily distracted or fatigued
  • Takes “hours” to do homework
  • Low reading comprehension or fluency
  • Poor or unevenly spaced handwriting
  • Uses finger to keep place
  • Eye fatigue or strain

This webinar is for everyone, parents, teachers and other professionals who work with kids.

RSVP today! 608-849-4040 or info@newhorizonsvision.com

Dr. Frazer’s Holiday Gift Guide 2017

November 22, 2017   /    Visual Processing   /    Comments Off on Dr. Frazer’s Holiday Gift Guide 2017

The holidays are right around the corner and you may be wondering, what kind of gifts can I give my child that will also help improve their visual skills. Games are a great way to develop skills related to how we process visual information. Visual perceptual skills help us bring meaning to what we see. Delays in these visual skills can significantly affect reading, writing, math and general learning.

These include visual skills such as:

Visual Discrimination– ability to pick out details

Which design is exactly like the one on top?

Visual Figure Ground– ability to find relevant information in a crowded background

The top shape is hidden in which picture?

Visual Directional Skills– the ability to understand concepts of right, left, up and down on ourselves and on others; a key skill for resolving letters/number reversals

Visual Motor Integration– ability to use the visual system to guide the motor system

Visualization– the ability to create a mental picture

Visual Closure– the ability to mentally complete an incomplete picture

If each design was completed and the lines were not moved, which one would look exactly like the design on the top?

Visual Memory– the ability to remember what we see

Remember the order of the shapes after you look away.

Without looking above, which row is the correct order?

Gift Guide

I’ve provided a list of games below that are fun and help work to improve one or more of the visual skills. Many of the games are very portable, which is great for taking on trips and keeping busy while waiting for food to be served. While some of these games are best played between 2 to 4 people, some of these games can be played as a one-person game.

Games for Young Children (3-5 years old)

Candyland, Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, Chutes and Ladders

 

What’s the Difference?, Hidden Picture Books, Spot It Jr.

 

I Spy (preschool), Memory Matching, Alphabet Soup Memory, Zingo

Games for Children (5 – 7 years old)

Set Jr., Connect 4, Spot it!, I Spy Dig In

 

I Spy Eagle Eye, Twister, Sequence for Kids, Q-bitz Jr

 

Qwirkle, Left Right Center, Bug Trails (6 and up)

 

Games for Children 7 and up (great family games!)

Checkers, Chess, Battleship

 

Set, Kanoodle, Blink

 

Sequence, Qbitz, Jenga, Operation

 

Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s visual skills.

Happy Holidays!

Dr. Valerie Frazer

Good Vision: Your Child’s Most Important School Supply

August 1, 2017   /    Vision and Learning   /    Comments Off on Good Vision: Your Child’s Most Important School Supply

Summer vacation is coming to an end and the new school year is just a few weeks away. Your child may have survived last school year, but if you want them to thrive this upcoming year you might ask yourself the following questions…

  • Is reading/writing a struggle?
  • Does your child skip lines or lose his/her place when reading?
  • Does your child avoid reading or writing?
  • Do you find yourself battling to get your child to do his/her work?
  • Does your child seem tired, get headaches or complain about their eyes when reading?
  • Does your child have a short attention span for reading or writing?
  • Does your child struggle to complete the expected amount of reading minutes per day?
  • Are they unable to comprehend what is being read?
  • Is your child having difficulty transitioning into chapter books?
  • Does your child have 20/20 vision, but complain that he/she can’t see well?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child might be suffering from a learning-related vision problem. Many children with learning-related vision problems have 20/20 eyesight and will pass a traditional eye exam or vision screening. Parents are given a false sense of security that everything is fine; when in reality their child may have significant vision coordination problems that are interfering with their ability to sustain accurate, clear and comfortable vision for near tasks such as reading, writing and math.

There are 17 visual skills that make up “good vision” and only one of those skills include eyesight or the ability to see 20/20. It is estimated that as much as 80% of all learning during a child’s first 12 years comes through vision. The three most common causes of vision and learning problems are poor eye tracking, teaming and focusing skills. Below we’ll take a closer look at these three visual skills and how they impact learning.

If you are only checking this…

Snellen Chart- Checks visual acuity

You may be missing this…

How text may look to a child with eye teaming difficulties.

Eye Tracking Skills

Eye movement or tracking skills are the ability to accurately track and follow with our eyes. Inaccurate tracking skills can cause loss of place when reading, skipping over words/lines, poor reading fluency and “careless” errors.

Eye Focusing Skills

When we look far away, the focusing muscles in our eyes relax, when we look up-close they constrict. The accurate and efficient use of these muscles allow us to focus on near-print for a sustained period of time and easily switch our focus from near to far and back again. Inefficient focusing skills may cause blurred vision, visual fatigue, trouble copying from the board, reduced reading comprehension and avoidance of near-point activities.

Eye Teaming Skills

Eye teaming is the ability of the eyes to work together as an efficient, coordinated team to create a clear and single picture. Small eye teaming problems cannot easily be detected by the untrained observer; however, they do significantly interfere with the ability to efficiently process visual information, especially at near when reading and writing. Difficulties with eye teaming skills can cause numerous symptoms and adaptations including: eyestrain, headaches, blurred or double vision, words run together or moving around the page, difficulty with handwriting/spacing, covering or closing of an eye and decreased reading comprehension. These symptoms make it very difficult to maintain attention on reading and writing, especially for children.

Many times, difficulty will exist in all three of these visual skills areas. These children are labeled as learning disabled, attention deficit or just plain lazy. The good news is that these conditions are easily treated with vision therapy. The bad news is that even though they are fairly common (1 out of every 4 children), they are frequently misdiagnosed or overlooked completely in routine vision screenings.

Many eye doctors (ophthalmologists and optometrists) fail to include the battery of tests needed to identify teaming, tracking and focusing problems. Specialized doctors of optometry who are board-certified in vision therapy have the credentials FCOVD. This designates that the doctor has the training and experience to diagnose and treat vision and learning problems.

You can find more information throughout our website or to find a FCOVD optometrist in your area check out www.covd.org.

Why Doesn’t My Child Like To Read?

May 11, 2017   /    Vision and Learning   /    Comments Off on Why Doesn’t My Child Like To Read?

Why doesn’t my child like to read? A common question parents find themselves asking. For some kids, it isn’t that they just don’t like it, they actually hate it and they will avoid reading at any cost. But why the strong aversion? Here are five reasons why many children (and adults) dislike reading:

Reason #1- Reading is uncomfortable

If your child gets headaches or complains about their eyes hurting with reading or doing near-work, they may be having difficulty with their eye teaming system. Eye teaming (also called convergence) is the ability to coordinate both eyes together. Our eyes have to converge with each other accurately at near to maintain clear and single vision. If the eyes struggle to converge, or sustain that convergence, they will have to work harder to compensate. This will create tension in and around the eyes, forehead and temples. Only the most motivated readers will keep reading when things become uncomfortable. Other signs of convergence insufficiency include: double vision, words appear to move on the page, decreased comprehension (related to the increased effort) and a slow reading rate.

Symptoms like those just listed make it more difficult to attend to reading and near-point tasks, which may cause symptoms that mirror attention deficit disorder (ADHD) symptoms. In fact, in a recent study, children diagnosed as having ADHD were 3x more likely to have convergence insufficiency. These children saw a significant reduction in their ADHD symptoms when their convergence insufficiency was successfully treated with vision therapy.

Reason #2- Words are blurry or hard to look at

Kids do not understand that how they’re seeing is not quite how everyone else sees. A child may have 20/20 eyesight and pass a regular vision examination, but still have poorly developed eye focusing skills (also called accommodation). When our eyes look far away, the eye focusing muscles relax to see clearly at a distance. When we look at something closer, the eye muscles contract to move the lens in the eye to see clearly at near. As we age, this lens itself becomes less flexible, which is why most people begin to need reading glasses after age 40. For a child, this skill should be easy and automatic.

Eye focusing skills allow the visual system to maintain clear and comfortable vision at near. Other signs of poor eye focusing skills include: blurry vision at near, occasional blurred distance vision after prolonged near-work, eyestrain and headaches. Some children complain that the words are hard to look at, that there are colored spots around the words or that the print is distorted. Others will have difficulty maintaining attention on reading or just avoid reading altogether.

Reason #3- They lose their place on the page frequently

To read efficiently, our eyes have to be able to make very precise eye movements, independent of head and body movements. If eye movement skills are delayed or never fully develop, it can significantly affect reading fluency and comprehension.

Reason #4- They think they are a slow reader

It isn’t hard to understand why a child with poor eye teaming, focusing and/or tracking skills might take longer to complete reading assignments. Another reason for slow reading speed can be poor span of visual awareness. Span of visual awareness refers to the amount, and speed, with which visual information can be taken in and processed. Children who are stressed about reading will often have difficulties with this and the end result is a child that seems to never “sit still”. Getting the wiggles out through movement activities and/or deep breathing exercises before sitting down to read can help combat some of the internal stress which may be making the problems worse.

Reason #5- They can’t visualize what they’ve read

Reading is more than decoding words, it is about creating a picture in your head to help you understand the author’s thoughts. Visualization, or the ability to make pictures in your head, is a skill that is often developed when children use their imaginations or play make believe. Parents can foster this skill by reading aloud to their children and then asking them questions to see if they understand what was just read.  Visualization is important not only for good reading comprehension, but also influences a child’s spelling and writing skills.

If you or your child identify with any of these five common reasons people avoid reading, you’re not alone. One out of every 10 children have an undiagnosed vision problem that can interfere with learning. The good news is there is hope! These visual skills are all learned skills that can be developed with proper guidance at any age. Developmental Optometrists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of these common visual skill problems that can affect reading and learning. Treatment for vision-related learning problems may include therapeutic glasses designed to improve visual efficiency and/or optometric vision therapy. To learn more, check out our website, www.newhorizonsvision.com. To find a Developmental Optometrist near you, visit the College of Optometrists for Vision Development website at www.covd.org.

Valerie L. Frazer, OD, FCOVD

Click here to learn more about Dr. Valerie L. Frazer.

 

Amblyopia: Myths, Truths, Treatments

April 21, 2017   /    Uncategorized   /    Comments Off on Amblyopia: Myths, Truths, Treatments

Advances in Amblyopia Treatments

Watch Dr. Frazer’s webinar that explores the ins and outs of amblyopia, dispel common treatment myths and uncover innovative treatment options including Vivid Vision virtual reality!

According to recent studies, over 12 million people in the United States alone are diagnosed with amblyopia… that’s about 3.5% of the US population.

Standard treatment options generally include endless hours of patching or Atropine drops, which have many visual and emotional consequences and low prolonged success rates.

Good news! There are advanced treatment options that are evidence-based and can be effective at any age.

During this webinar, Dr. Frazer explains:

  • Why amblyopia develops.
  • Why patching alone is not always effective.
  • The importance of binocular vision in treatment.
  • New advances in amblyopia treatment including Vivid Vision.

Vision, Behavior and Attention

March 21, 2017   /    Vision and Learning   /    Comments Off on Vision, Behavior and Attention

Vision, Behavior and Attention Webinar

View Dr. Frazer’s webinar that explores common signs of vision-related attention problems and strategies to improve these skills.

The number of children and adults diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has increased significantly over the course of the last decade.

Did you know that many of the characteristics used to diagnose AD(H)D are also symptoms of vision related learning problems?

Some children and adults truly do suffer from ADD and ADHD, but certain vision and learning-related problems mirror the same symptoms and are misdiagnosed.

Symptoms for AD(H)D diagnosis that are also seen in learning-related visual problems:

  • Making careless mistakes in schoolwork
  • Not listening to what is being said
  • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Losing and misplacing belongings
  • Fidgeting and squirming in seat
  • Interrupting or intruding on others

Visual Perception Webinar

January 9, 2017   /    Vision and Learning , Visual Processing   /    Comments Off on Visual Perception Webinar

Eliminate homework battles.

Visual Skills for Reading & Learning Part II: Visual Perception

Watch Dr. Frazer’s webinar to learn why visual perception and visual processing skills are important for reading fluency and the learning process.

80% of all learning is visual and 20% of children lack the visual skills necessary to succeed in school. These necessary visual skills go beyond 20/20 vision. Dr. Frazer will review the most common symptoms of learning-related vision problems and the best methods of treatment.

Visual perception and visual processing skills include:

  • Visual Directional Skills
  • Visual Analysis Skills
  • Visualization and Memory
  • Visual Integration Skills

This webinar is beneficial for everyone; parents, teachers and other professionals who work with kids.

Visual Processing Skills and Game Ideas

December 5, 2016   /    Visual Processing   /    Comments Off on Visual Processing Skills and Game Ideas

What are visual processing skills?

Visual processing skills are what our brain uses to make sense of what we see in the world around us. When a child is behind in the development of visual processing skills learning can take longer, requiring more cognitive effort that slows down the learning process.

Math, reading and writing are some of the areas where visual processing skills play a key role in how a child learns, and without the skills to excel in these areas a child’s self-esteem can suffer as well. A child who has not developed good eye movement, eye teaming, and eye focusing skills will often have more difficulty with visual processing skills.

Examples of visual processing skills.

Visual processing skills are broken down into several different categories. Your child may have trouble with just one skill or a couple of related skills. Or they may need to work a little bit on all of their visual processing skills. Listed below we describe each category and show examples of each skill.

Visual discrimination

The ability to recognize the differences and similarities between objects and images based on shape and size, it is important to be able to distinguish between different letters and words in order to read and write. An important step in developing this skill is teaching your child to pay attention to detail.

Which design is exactly like the one on top?

Which design is exactly like the one on top?

Figure ground

The ability to find and pick out the important information in a visually busy background, such as picking out numbers in a word problem.

The top shape is hidden in which picture?

The top shape is hidden in which picture?

Form constancy

The ability to know that a shape is the same regardless of size or direction change, knowing a word is the same word written in a different font.

Match the design, it could be a different size or color.

Match the design, it could be a different size or color.

Visual closure

The ability to know what an image or object is when part of that image or object is missing. It is also the ability to quickly recognize differences in similar words to enable reading fluently.

If each design was completed and the lines were not moved, which one would look exactly like the design on the top?

If each design was completed and the lines were not moved, which one would look exactly like the design on the top?

Visual and sequential memory

The abilities to recall visual information over time and to accurately recall a sequence of shapes or objects in the correct order, these skills are important for spelling and writing.

Remember the order of the shapes after you look away.

Remember the order of the shapes after you look away.

Without looking above, which row is the correct order?

Without looking above, which row is the correct order?

Game ideas for each area.

Wondering how you can help your child develop the skills they need to excel in school in a fun and interactive way? Hands on games are a great way to work on these visual processing skills. Below you will find games that will help strengthen the areas of visual processing to match your child’s needs.  Most, if not all, of these games can be found on Amazon and will tell you the recommendations for age appropriateness. Depending on the child’s skill level they may need to start with a game that’s recommended age is below their age.

Does your child…

  • Mistake similar words i.e. where/when?
  • Struggle with differentiating between b, d, q, p?
  • Have difficulty reading music?
  • Have a hard time being aware of small changes in the world around them?

Games to strengthen Visual Discrimination:

  • Attribute Blocks
  • Spot the Difference
    Pixy Cubes and Spot it!

    Pixy Cubes and Spot it!

  • Memory Matching
  • Pixy Cubes
  • Dominos
  • Bingo with Picture Cards
  • Spot it!
  • Dog Dice
  • Blink
  • Qwirkle

Does your child…

  • Struggle to pick out the numbers in word problems?
  • Say, “Mom where is my…” only to find out what they are looking for is right out in the open?
  • Get easily distracted by things around them?
  • Have trouble with sorting and organizing their work or belongings?
  • Have difficulty copying from the board?

Games to strengthen Figure Ground:

Qwirkle

Qwirkle

  • Where’s Waldo
  • I Spy books or board games
  • Dot-to-dots
  • Snakes and Ladders
  • Jigsaw Puzzles
  • Connect 4
  • Qwirkle

Does your child…

  • Have a hard time with hidden pictures if the shape they are looking for has been turned a different way?
  • Know a word in one sentence but then not know that same word in another sentence?
  • Misread or guess at words because they don’t recognize it?

Games to strengthen Form Constancy:

  • Spot it!
  • Terzetto
  • Melissa & Doug: Pattern Blocks and Boards
  • Melissa & Doug: Bead Sequencing Set
  • Mental Blox 360

Does your child…

  • Leave sentences or thoughts unfinished when writing?
  • Have trouble finding things they are looking for if that object is partially covered?
  • Struggle with sight words?

Games to strengthen Visual Closure:

  • Finders Keepers!
  • Blokus
  • Bound Off
  • Zingo!
  • Wild Wonders Memory
  • Qwirkle

Does your child…

  • Have difficulty recognizing the same word a few sentences later?
  • Struggle to remember the main point of a story after reading?
  • Make the same mistake again and again, sometimes not realizing they are doing so?
  • Have difficulty remembering the alphabet in sequence?
  • Struggle with sequencing letters or numbers in word or math problems?
  • Have a hard time following multiple step directions?
  • Have difficulty copying from one place to another?

Games to strengthen Visual Memory & Visual Sequential Memory:

  • Q-Bitz
    Sequence for kids

    Sequence for kids

  • Make A Match Game In A Tin
  • Captain Clueless
  • Wild Wonders Memory
  • Memory Challenge: Marvel Comics
  • Melissa & Dough: Pattern Blocks and Boards
  • Sequence
  • Swish
  • Chess
  • Rush Hour

Visual Skills For Reading

November 22, 2016   /    Vision and Learning   /    Comments Off on Visual Skills For Reading

Webinar: Visual Skills For Reading

View Dr. Frazer’s webinar below to learn how visual skills such as tracking, focusing and eye teaming can interfere with reading fluency and the learning process.

Visual skills required for learning

20% of children lack visual skills required for reading and those necessary to succeed in school. These necessary visual skills go beyond 20/20 vision. Dr. Frazer will first review the most common symptoms of learning-related vision problems and then the best methods of treatment.

Learning-Related Vision Symptoms:

  • Losing place on the page
  • Words run together when reading
  • Reversals of letters or words
  • Easily distracted or fatigued
  • Takes “hours” to do homework
  • Low reading comprehension or fluency
  • Poor or unevenly spaced handwriting
  • Uses finger to keep place
  • Eye fatigue or strain

Visual skills are necessary to succeed in school.

This webinar is beneficial for everyone, parents, teachers and other professionals who work with kids.

Common Myths About Treating Amblyopia

November 8, 2016   /    Amblyopia   /    Comments Off on Common Myths About Treating Amblyopia

Amblyopia is a condition often called “lazy eye” where one eye has reduced visual acuity (i.e. can’t see 20/20), even with the appropriate glasses. Amblyopia occurs when the brain ignores or suppresses information from one eye. This condition affects 2 to 3 out of every 100 children; making it one of the most common causes of reduced vision in children. Below I will discuss 3 common myths about treating amblyopia.

Before we get into the common misconceptions about treatment for amblyopia, let’s first discuss how amblyopia develops. The two most common types of amblyopia are Refractive Ambylopia and Strabismic Amblyopia.

Refractive Amblyopia

Refractive Amblyopia is the most common type of Amblyopia. This occurs when there is a large difference in refractive error (a.k.a. the prescription needed to focus an image on the retina) between the two eyes. Refractive Amblyopia develops because the images in each eye are different or when one eye must work harder than the other to see. These differences between the picture created by the two eyes makes it difficult to merge the two images together into one.

picture1
Blurred Image (Amblyopic Eye) Normal Image (Non-amblyopic Eye)

If the brain is faced with one blurry picture and one, clear picture it will give preference to the clear picture and ignore information from the blurry one. Over time this suppression of information leads to reduced acuity. Usually the amblyopic eye will also have greater difficulty with other visual skills such as focusing, tracking, eye-hand coordination and higher levels of visual processing because of this. In cases of Refractive Amblyopia, wearing the appropriate prescription is an important aspect of treatment.

Strabismic Amblyopia

The second most common cause of amblyopia is strabismus. Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes, usually esotropia (eye turn in) or exotropia (eye turn out). When the eyes have trouble coordinating with each other and are not pointing in the same place at the same time, the brain gets confused and cannot put the images together. Rather than seeing double, the brain will ignore information from one of the eyes. Usually it ignores information from the eye that is turned most often; eliminating the double vision.

Amblyopia affects one in every 40 children

Amblyopia affects one in every 40 children

Strabismic Eye

Now, let’s review the most common misconceptions about amblyopia treatments…

Myth #1= The most effective method of treating amblyopia is patching.

Many eye doctors use patching as their primary method of treating amblyopia. If you are the parent of an amblyopic child, you need to know that there are better ways to treat amblyopia then long hours of patching. In fact, a recent study from the National Eye Institute (https://nei.nih.gov/news/pressreleases/051203) shows that two hours of patching is as effective as all day patching. A patch can be one effective tool when used properly; however, it is not the only tool. In my practice, patching is often done with other prescribed activities to equalize visual skills between the two eyes. A patch is usually worn while doing prescribed activities for lesser periods of time.

A newer approach to treating Refractive Amblyopia doesn’t involve a patch at all. One of the problems that occurs in Refractive Amblyopia is that because the prescription is different between the two eyes, the image sizes are also different. Even with the correct prescription, the brain has a hard time putting two different sized images together, and the eyes can still struggle to work together. The Shaw Lens is designed to reduce the image size differences that occur when one eye needs a stronger prescription than the other. We are proud to be one of the first clinics in the area to provide this new technology to our patients. Although more research needs to be done, our clinic is seeing improved visual acuity after one month of wearing the Shaw lenses. More information about the Shaw lens can be found on their website: http://shawlens.com/aniseikonia/amblyopia/ .

Myth #2= Amblyopia can’t be treated after a certain age.

In the past, many in the medical community believed that amblyopia could not be treated after age eight. These assumptions were based on the false belief that the brain did not retain neuroplasticity (or the ability to make new connections) after this “critical” period of development. While early interventions and treatments are always the best, new studies by the National Institute of Health (https://nei.nih.gov/news/pressreleases/041105 ) recommend that age should not be a determining factor when deciding to treat amblyopia. Future studies are looking at the effectiveness of treating adults with amblyopia. Many offices who specialize in vision therapy, including ours, successfully treat amblyopia well into adulthood. These adult patients are making improvements in both visual acuity and depth perception. It is never too late to treat a “lazy eye”.

Myth # 3= Once 20/20 vision is achieved, the amblyopic eye is “cured”.

This is a common mistake even well trained eye doctors will make. Remember that amblyopia is not exactly an “eye” problem, it is a brain problem caused when images from the two eyes cannot be merged effectively and efficiently. Even if the eye with amblyopia can see 20/20, it doesn’t mean that the amblyopic eye transmits or processes visual information as efficiently as the non-amblyopic eye, or that the brain can sync the information together. The brain could still be ignoring/suppressing information from the amblyopic eye when both eyes are open.

Depth perception at distance and near should be the goal of any amblyopia treatment plan. Quality depth perception occurs when the two eyes are working well together and the brain is then able to combine the information into one 3-D image. Patching alone is often not enough to teach the eyes how to work together. Vision therapy is often required to achieve quality depth perception and to ensure that the eyes will want to stay working together long term.

Please contact our office with any questions you may have at info@newhorizonsvisiontherapy.com . Or to schedule an evaluation call us at 608-849-4040.

Dr. Valerie Frazer, FCOVD

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