Reviewed by Renee Alli on February 09, 2012

Sources

Sharon Berger, OD; American Optometric Association. Rouse, M. OD, Optometry and Vision Science, September 1999. Optometry, August 2000; vol 71 No. 8: "Practice Strategies: Back to School."

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Video Transcript

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Narrator: Is Merritt Wall pretending to be a pirate walking the plank? Not quite. Nor is Brianna playing video games. Both children are in therapy…VISION therapy…to correct how their eyes track, scan, and work together. It's a functional vision deficit, and the American Optometric Association says some 20% of all Americans have one, sometimes without even knowing. In fact, it may be a reason some children are labeled ADD or discipline problems or have trouble with schoolwork.

Sharon Berger, OD: Maybe up to 70% of children that are having difficulty in other areas of learning might also have a functional vision problem.

: You're moving your head..you're not supposed to move your head!

Narrator: Merritt started having trouble in kindergarten.

Emily May: He was constantly skipping lines or repeating lines or rereading words.

Narrator: If you look carefully you can see his eyes "click" or move sharply away from his target. To compensate, he moves his head.

Sharon Berger, OD: There's a whole process in vision, not that I can just see twenty twenty but also how well can I track and scan my eye. How well do I use my eyes together. How efficiently can I look from one point to another in space.

Narrator: Functional vision disorders are diagnosed by specially trained optometrists who administer tests that go beyond basic vision. Therapists use a variety of methods to correct dysfunctions. Patching one eye can make the other work harder.

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Narrator: Whole body movements challenge the tracking abilities of the eyes even further. And what's the result of all this jumping, pointing, clapping and tracking? Merritt's mom is hopeful:

Emily May: He has had some improvement in his tracking, just how well he can read across the line of letters, words, numbers. So I'm hoping that will give him further improvements in his reading and just make reading a lot easier for him.

Narrator: For WebMD, I'm Sandee Lamotte