Our guest blogger today is Seth Panattoni. He is an optometric vision therapist and works with Dr. Benjamin Winters, OD, FCOVD in Yakima, WA.
If someone would have told me two months ago that I would be on a new career path as a Vision Therapist by the middle of May I would have had two questions:
1) Are You serious?
2) What IS Vision Therapy?
My name is Seth Panattoni and I am currently in training as a Vision Therapist. My road thus far has been, shall we say, “eye opening.” (Pardon the pun.) As it turns out, I was as skeptical as anyone when it came to vision therapy. However, after meeting Dr. Benjamin Winters, and his staff of therapists and office personnel, I was convinced on the spot in my interview that this was the place that I wanted to begin a new chapter in my life. Not only did I begin to see real change happening in the vision of the patients I was observing on a daily basis, but every “graduation” of a patient revealed to me some of the many ways in which the recipients of vision therapy have thrived in the real world where not one year previous they had struggled mightily.
One principle I have learned here is that vision acuity, which is vision clarity, is not the definition of what it means to have good functional vision as a whole. Where I had once believed vision to be sight alone, I now know that vision is much more extensive than I had ever realized. It affects balance, posture, motor skills of all kinds, speech, and does so much more than any other sensory input that the brain receives. While I am not even close to considering myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I believe I have some unique insight, albeit short and condensed, that should help the average person consider whether or not vision therapy is for them. (Especially parents as it pertains to their children.)
I have seen a young girl who had almost no coordination at the beginning of therapy recently graduate, made even better by her mother telling the staff that her daughter was able to make it effortlessly (and for the first time) through her most recent dance class. I have seen victims of traumatic brain injuries, start to piece back together what they once knew and excelled at, and I have seen children who complained of blurry vision and constant headaches at school graduate nearly symptom-free and excited to pick up a book on their own for the first time.
While the simple procedures used in the office at first seem like a far cry to gaining any positive progress, it is undeniable that they in fact work, and work well at that. Most of all, any prospective patients should know that the environment is as inviting as I’ve ever seen at a medical practice; in fact, that is what drew me into the job. This may sound silly, but people are people here. They are not test subjects. They are emotionally invested in, and their success is not just hoped for, its strived for by every person in the building. My title “A New way of Seeing Things” is meant to go two ways: Obviously it pertains to my short time learning here, but more importantly it serves to be the new mantra of every patient who leaves therapy: truly seeing new things for the first time.
For more information on vision therapy or to find a developmental optometrist near you go to covd.org.