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Q: Reading and Vision Therapy for Children ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Reading and Vision Therapy for Children
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: lorrie10-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 26 Jul 2006 14:35 PDT
Expires: 25 Aug 2006 14:35 PDT
Question ID: 749855
Can learning to read in itself improve eye muscle control, without the
child having to undergo vision therapy?
Subject: Re: Reading and Vision Therapy for Children
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 26 Jul 2006 23:58 PDT
Hello Lorrie10,

    Some types of vision therapy (sometimes called orthoptics) that
concentrate on strengthening the eye muscles do indeed help children
with strabismus (crossed eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye), but it does
not improve vision problems. It appears from my research that most
vision therapy sites border on quackery. It?s doubtful that any vision
therapy would harm a child, but in most cases it is  not needed.

Barring a diagnosed problem such as described above and below, vision
therapy is unnecessary and I am glad you are investigating, before

This site also lists some of the conditions that respond to vision therapy.

   ?Eye exercise therapy is sometimes used to correct or improve a
lazy eye condition. The weak eye must be exercised. A patch is worn
over the good eye for weeks or months. Wearing a patch exercises the
lazy eye by strengthening the eye muscles. This helps restore 2-eyed
vision. After normal vision has been restored to the weak eye,
part-time patching may be required for years. If the child has a lazy
eye from farsightedness, glasses may correct the problem. Another
option is to put a drop in the good eye to make the vision blurry.
These treatments force the lazy eye to do the work of seeing.

To further exercise the eye, visual activities such as crossword
puzzles with small print, video games, or other eye exercise
activities may be prescribed. If treatment is successful before the
age of 9, a full recovery is likely. However, if lazy eye is allowed
to continue or is discovered after the age of 9, normal 2- eyed vision
may never be restored.

Eye exams and school vision screenings are the most important factors
in diagnosing eye and vision problems in infants and children.?

   ?When you read, your eye must be able to focus an image of the
words onto your retina. To do this, the iris, as well as the muscles
that control the shape of your lens, must contract to keep the focused
image on the retina. If you read in low light, your visual muscles get
mixed signals: Relax to collect the most light, but at the same time,
contract to maintain the focused image. When that object is poorly
lit, focusing becomes even more difficult because the contrast between
the words and the page is not as great, which decreases the eye's
ability to distinguish visual detail. That ability is called visual
acuity. Your eyes have to work harder to separate the words from the
page, which strains your eye muscles. Consider this to be strenuous
exercise for your eye muscles. So your eye muscles will ache, much as
your arm muscles and leg muscles become sore after strenuous

   ?The six tiny muscles that surround the eye and control its
movements are known as the extraocular muscles (EOMs).  The primary
function of the four rectus muscles is to control the eye's movements
from left to right and up and down.  The two oblique muscles move the
eye rotate the eyes inward and outward.
All six muscles work in unison to move the eye.  As one contracts, the
opposing muscle relaxes, creating smooth movements.  In addition to
the muscles of one eye working together in a coordinated effort, the
muscles of both eyes work in unison so that the eyes are always

   ?In 1998, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of
Ophthalmology, and American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology
and Strabismus issued a policy statement regarding the use of vision
therapy specifically for the treatment of learning problems and
dyslexia. According to the statement: "No scientific evidence exists
for the efficacy of eye exercises ('vision therapy')... in the
remediation of these complex pediatric neurological conditions."

   ?Contrary to scientific fact, Bates taught that errors of
refraction are due, not to the basic shape of the eyeball or the
structure of the lens, but to a functional and therefore curable
derangement in the action of the muscles on the outside of the
eyeball. All defects in vision, he said, were caused by eyestrain and
nervous tension; and perfect vision could be achieved by relaxing the
eyes completely. Bates warned that eyeglasses cause the vision to
deteriorate; he also deplored the use of sunglasses. Bates claimed his
exercises could correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism,
and presbyopia (the inability of older people to focus their eyes on
nearby objects). They could also cure such diseases as cataracts, eye
infections, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. His exercises included
palming (covering the eyes and attempting to see blackness) and
shifting or swinging the gaze from object to object.

It should be obvious that these exercises cannot influence eyesight
disorders as Bates claimed. Nearsightedness, farsightedness,
astigmatism, and presbyopia result from inborn and acquired
characteristics of the lens and the eyeball -- which no exercise can
change. As for eye diseases, the only thing the exercises can do is
delay proper medical or surgical treatment and result in permanent
impairment of vision. The claims Bates made in advertising his book
were so dubious that in 1929 the Federal Trade Commission issued a
complaint against him for advertising "falsely or misleadingly."?

?Promises of dramatically improved reading speed are often made by
vision therapists and speed- reading courses. If you can read but have
symptoms of fatigue or read slowly, these programs may help. However,
they are unlikely to double or triple your speed, as is typically
claimed. Studies have shown that many people can gain 20 to 50% in
speed and experience more comfort while reading with the proper
glasses and vision therapy if needed?

?Remember: no type of eye exercise can improve a refractive error or
cure any ailment within the eyeball or in any remote part of the body.
If you are considering a vision training program, request a written
report detailing the problem, the proposed treatment plan, an estimate
of the time and costs involved, and the prognosis. If the plan is not
targeted toward a specific visual problem (such as amblyopia), or if
it includes a broad promise such as improving I.Q., forget about it.
If you are not sure what to do, invest in a second opinion, preferably
from a university-affiliated practitioner.?
Please read the entire article for complete information.

This site is maintained by the University of Illinois at Chicago, a
major research university.
?There are no eye exercises that will help your eyes see better or
that will prevent the nearsightedness from getting worse. The article
'Can Eye Exercises improve vision?' provides information on how the
concept of eye exercises helping vision came about. Some of the eye
exercise methods are the 'Yoga method' and the 'See Clearly method'.
Carrots won't improve eyesight for someone eating normal healthy food.
However, carrots are rich in beta carotene, which is converted into
Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is important in maintaining normal
vision, and worldwide, Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of
blindness. Therefore in the developing world, where deficiency of
vitamin A is possible, eating carrots may be good advice.?

University of California, SF has an illustration of the eye, depicting
the eye muscles.

   In looking at reliable medical/ophthalmology sites, there is no
mention of vision therapy.

A highly respected medical school of ophthalmology, Stanford
University has nothing about vision therapy. Typing vision therapy in
their search box returns nothing but treatment for maladies other than
what you describe.

Nothing on the University of Iowa either.

Illustrations and explanations of eye muscles

This site may be slow to load, but it shows, in animation, how the eye
muscles work.

Finally, please read these sites before spending any money on
unscrupulous vision therapy.

I would recommend having the person be examined by a licensed
ophthalmologist, and not an optician.
?Reading requires the integration of eight different vision skills.
Only one is checked by the typical school eye chart test. Quick eye
examinations may cover only one or two. Since a comprehensive eye
examination will cover the eight vision skills, it is a must for
anyone having trouble reading.? See the skills:

?Your child's health care provider will first determine if the child
truly has strabismus. If the child has strabismus, a workup will be
done to determine the cause.
The physical examination will include a detailed examination of the
eyes. The patient may be asked to look through a series of prisms to
determine the extent of eye divergence. The eye muscles will be tested
to determine the strength of the extraocular muscles.?
Tests include:
?	Standard ophthalmic exam 
?	Visual acuity 
?	Retinal exam 
?	Neurological examination

   Barring an eye muscle problem, eye muscles are naturally very
strong. Learning to read, besides being a wonderful thing, will
increase a child?s eye coordination, but will not improve (or harm)
eye muscles or vision. Again, if you are concerned over a problem such
as crossed eyes or lazy eye, visit a good eye DOCTOR and get the child
diagnosed. S/he will recommend the appropriate treatment for the

If you are worried about hand-eye coordination or fine motor skills,
here are some resources:

Online games. (I tried using a laptop keypad and did not do so well ?
use a computer mouse for a child!)



Activities: Karate and Tae Kwon Do are great tools for improving
hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Gross Motor Skills
There are a number of activities parents can have children do to help
develop gross motor skills. These include:
?	playing hopscotch and jumping rope; activities that help children learn balance
?	hitting, catching, kicking, or throwing a ball, such as a baseball,
football, or soccer ball; activities that help develop hand-eye or
foot-eye coordination
?	kangaroo hop, in which children hold something, such as a small ball
or orange, between their knees and then jump with their feet together
frontward, backwards, and sideways
?	playing wheelbarrow, in which someone holds the children's legs
while they walk on their hands along a specific route
?	walking on a narrow bar or curb, while holding a bulky object in one
hand, then the other hand, and then repeating the activity walking
backwards and sideways
?	toss and catch, in which children toss an object, such as a
baseball, in the air and then catch it, while sitting or lying down
and also while using alternate hands

Pre-school children and  literacy (A good read, but a large download)

Primary school and literacy

Activities that promote literacy

I hope this has helped you out. If anything is unclear, please request
an Answer Clarification, and allow me to respond, before you rate.

Sincerely, Crabcakes

Search Terms
Vision therapy
extraocular muscles
reading improves vision
extraocular muscles + strength
hand eye coordination + reading
motor skills + gross + fine
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