About to begin her first semester of law school, Darby knew her headaches and slow reading pace needed help before she hit the books. These symptoms were paired with lifelong learning difficulty, so just like Landon, she was first pointed toward a diagnosis of ADHD. But a specialist in the disorder had a new idea: maybe the cause was an unknown problem with her vision. A member of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) confirmed that this was indeed the case: she was discovered to have the reading speed of a first-grade child.
All too often, vision problems are never diagnosed and go untreated as children are unaware of, or unable to describe, their struggles. A “20/20” score from an in-school screening is no guarantee that a child’s vision is perfect. This was just the case for Darby, who pushed through school in spite of her vision problems, thanks to work-around habits and dutiful parents.
“My vision struggles made reading very difficult,” she recalls, “assignments took me a lot longer to complete than my classmates. This forced me to develop good time-management skills and study habits. I was also fortunate to have parents with great work ethics to push me, so I didn’t fall behind.”
After a few months of vision therapy (VT), Darby is reading faster and with less headaches. She has also noticed improved hand-eye coordination and peripheral vision, now noticing “much more movement” around her. “That took some getting used to,” Darby recounts,”it was almost over-stimulating at first.”
Her everyday life is remarkably less difficult as she finally experiences what those without vision problems may take for granted. “Prior to VT, I had no idea how much easier such simple tasks were for other people. It’s hard to understand how bad your vision is until it’s been improved.”
When we asked if she would recommend that others give VT a try, Darby’s answer was a definite “Of course!” And for other adults who worry that “old dogs and new tricks” may apply to their vision, she urges “Don’t get discouraged!” Darby was the only adult patient in a room full of children, maybe a little embarrassed jumping on a trampoline and practicing with toys, but she insists that she would “absolutely do it again […] the improvements in my vision made it all more than worth it!”
August is Vision & Learning Month and if you suspect you or your child may be struggling just like Darby did, the optometrists in COVD are here to help. Find one near you and schedule a comprehensive exam to find out if vision therapy can change your life for the better.