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Can Vision Therapy Treat a Learning Disability?

Vision therapy is often used to treat problems with how the eyes track, work together, or how vision is processed. Some children who have been diagnosed with a learning disability like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD/ADD), dyslexia, or dysgraphia have underlying visual problems that contribute to their symptoms.

Example 1: A study (view here) found that kids who had problems with vergence (eye teaming) had reduced ADHD scores after treatment.

Example 2: Another study (view here) found statistically significant improvements for reading comprehension and reading composite score in children who were treated for convergence insufficiency

I was told vision therapy cannot treat learning disabilities…

Many professionals will argue that vision therapy cannot treat a learning disability, and in the purest of definitions, they are correct. This is because the true definition of a learning disability means that vision has been completely ruled out. The problem is that most kids are diagnosed with a learning disability like dyslexia before vision is completely ruled out. Many of them have a vision problem that completely mimics dyslexia, others may have true dyslexia and no vision problems, while some will have a combination of the two. You can’t tell until you properly test the visual function.

Perhaps the easiest way to think about it is if your child was having trouble with being tired, you would want to rule out low iron before they were diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (which means that there is no known reason for fatigue)

Now imagine hundreds of children with fatigue skipped the iron test and were just labeled as chronic fatigue. Some of those children would have true chronic fatigue, but many of them may just be iron deficient and received a pre-mature diagnosis of chronic fatigue.

Technically, giving a child iron supplements should not be able to treat chronic fatigue. However, for all those kids where the iron levels were overlooked the iron would be very successful in treating the chronic fatigue.

Vision therapy and learning disabilities is the same as iron and fatigue. Many learning disabilities are caused (in part or whole) by vision problems that are undiagnosed, and some have eye tracking that works perfectly. If there is no vision problem, then vision therapy will not help.

If there is an undiagnosed vision problem causing the struggle, then vision therapy is very successful in helping the child.

Vision therapy can be a tremendous help for a child’s reading if vision is part of their struggle, but you can’t tell until you have it tested. If your child, or a child you know is struggling, please make sure they get their eye tracking, teaming, and visual processing tested. It could change their life.

Why Vision Therapy Comes Before Tutoring or a Learning Center

Our parental instinct naturally wants to find the fastest solution & often the first options for a child who struggles in the classroom are either a tutor or a learning center. However, some learning problems are vision-related, which is a problem in development and not necessarily due to learning capability.

When patients come to us for a vision therapy evaluation, we strive to educate parents how to recognize that when their child has a tantrum, gets easily frustrated, and can’t continue with homework, the child can show he or she is very bright and intelligent in other areas. Therefore, the issue of learning to read might not have anything to do with the child’s intelligence but a visual one.

Vision is such a basic tool that many parents may have already enrolled their child in other programs because they never questioned the child’s ability to see. When learning programs can’t solve the child’s struggles, parents discover vision therapy as an alternative, either from a referral or after online research.

Why aren’t parents brought to vision therapy from the beginning?

There are various reasons why vision therapy may not have been recommended to you initially or perhaps have never heard about it until now.

  1. Vision therapy is a unique program that only some optometrists specialize in and offer at their clinics.
  2. In vision screenings at school, vision is only tested for seeing at a distance. A child with a problem with another visual skill can go undiagnosed.
  3. Since there are children with learning problems, some with vision problems, diagnosing the exact issue becomes more difficult as the child may be juggling more than one condition.
  4. The child does not have regular eye exams with an optometrist or local eye doctor.

Fortunately, vision therapy is growing in popularity because of the effectiveness and immediate benefits in children with problems. Previousl children would continue their years at school without ever treating their vision problem. Even today, some adult patients come to us for therapy & discover they had a lingering vision problem holding them back the entire time.

Is there a time that’s too early to treat a vision problem?

When a child is starting to read & pronounce the words in 1st or 2nd grade, if they have a vision problem, their learning will be slower than other children & unfortunately, the issue generally won’t go away on its own. In scenarios like this, a child with a vision problem who reaches 3rd, 4th, or even 5th grade without treating their vision, will end up falling behind the class at a more noticeable rate. A child may lose confidence or face peer pressure unless their situation is handled with care. However, if the vision problem is addressed early, the child can enjoy their early school years with fully developed visual skills and not have to face these challenges at an older age.

Signs of a child with a vision problem may be able to pronounce words & run through sentences, but they will lack comprehension. Children may end up learning to read but never reading to learn. For a person who grew up with normal vision, it’s difficult to comprehend how someone can read through a page & not remember what they read.

Why Vision Therapy Should Be Your 1st Priority

Fortunately, vision therapy is well researched & supported with multitudes of success stories over the years. Plus, a developmental optometrist who specializes in vision therapy has ways to accurately test your child’s various visual skills & identify whether vision therapy is needed. There’s no guesswork involved. This means that your child will achieve normal, functional vision at the end of therapy, and in many cases, they become amazing readers, sports players, and happy to learn.


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Whether it’s high performance around a track at 180mph or taking your family on a 3 hour trip, the fact is that you need your vision to arrive safely. Everyone knows that you need to see clearly, but the other visual skills are often overlooked. These are the things that are important for keeping drivers from getting fatigued, double vision, blurry vision, and being able to stay focused on the road.


Many drivers will experience times where the road will start to go slightly double or blurry. This is often because their eyes have started to fall out of alignment. This is most often because the brain is not controlling the alignment accurately. This is often easily remedied with a specialty glasses prescription (more than just for clarity), or with vision therapy to help the brain learn to use the eyes together more efficiently.


Fatigue is a common problem when driving for long periods of time. If your eyes struggle to work together, the extra energy your brain has to spend on trying to correct this will make you fatigued. This is similar to how poor wheel alignment will kill your fuel economy! So make sure that your eyes are working together properly, and avoid fatigue behind the wheel

Progressive lenses

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Why Can't I Get Used To Progressive Lenses?

Can't get used to your progressive lenses? It may not be the reason why you or your optometrist think! Progressive lenses can be a frustrating thing for many people to try to get used to.  They can cause dizziness, headaches, depth perception problems and more. Most of the time you're told to 'just get used to it' (that's what many eye doctors are taught in school). If you struggle with them, sometimes it's suggested that you just need to buy a more expensive lens.It wasn't until several years after graduation from optometry that my engineering brain caught up with me, and I started to realize the main reasons why people can't get used to progressives.

Most of this stems from the fact that glasses do more than just make you see clearly.  Most people, including many eye doctors, don't realize that the prescription you're given can change more than just your clarity.
Your glasses can also change:

  • How your eyes work together
  • How you perceive depth/space
  • How your inner ear and vision work together

1. The prescription could be causing the problems.  

Most prescriptions are given to make you see clearly but can have unintended consequences.  The same prescription that makes things clear, may actually be causing headaches, migraines, dizziness, light sensitivity or other problems. Giving a glasses prescription isn't as simple as measuring a shoe size.  The prescription should take into account what makes things clear for you, and then be altered and adjusted based on how your eyes and your brain work together. You may have even had a second opinion on your prescription, and still, be frustrated.  The problem is that optometrists and ophthalmologists are still taught only to prescribe based on clarity.  Our education seems to overlook how the lens can change so much more (for better or worse).

THE FIX:  Find an optometrist who specializes in neuro-optometry and is familiar with using prism for depth perception, not just muscle weaknesses (this is not always the best way to use prism).

2. How the glasses are made could be causing the problem. 

So you've sat there and had the conversation about good, better, and best lens designs. You've been given options to choose from with your lenses.  When was the last time this happened with a drug prescription?  In order for the glasses to be considered 'the prescription', it only needs to match the prescription for clarity.  Many lens manufacturers make other adjustments to the prescription such as adding prism (which can change how your brain processes depth and space).  Even the pupillary distance (PD) measurement, or where the heights of your lenses are set can change the actual prescription.

I can still remember a patient who came to me with the complaint that she was dizzy and often falling forward off of her horse.  Her prescription was great for clearness, but the lens design had prism in it that caused her to always be off-balance leaning forward.  A simple change, using prism in the correct fashion, and she no longer was dizzy or falling off her horse.

THE FIX:  Make sure that the glasses are made exactly as prescribed by the optometrist in Victoria or Nanaimo who understands how they will impact how your eyes and brain work together. Ensure that where-ever you have your glasses made, they will guarantee that you will be satisfied with your glasses (often a 100% refund policy for 2 months).

3. Your progressives may have been prescribed for the wrong reasons or overpromised.

Progressive lenses allow a person to be able to see at both distance and near.  Think of your glasses like shoes, the shoes that multi-task for you (a water-resistant runner for example), is not as good in the rain as a boot and not as comfortable to run in as a good runner.  Progressive lenses are the same. The place this causes the most problems is at the computer. Remember, the top of your glasses is set for distance (think 10 ft and further), and the bottom is for reading. 

When you use your progressives at the computer, one of two things will happen:

  • You will begin to tilt your head back.  Your brain has learned to tilt your head back to get better focus on your screen.  You will start to adopt a posture with your head tilted back.  This is a great thing if you'd like to pay for your physiotherapist or chiropractor's new car.
  • Your eyes will use the wrong area of the lens. You feel like you can see the computer ok, so what could be the problem?  Migraines, headaches, and screen sensitivity are caused because the eyes will start to strain and your brain has to expend extra energy trying to use them together.  Often this is incorrectly attributed to 'blue light' as the culprit.  Please see the other blog article on this because spoiler alert; it's not!   Caution! Even 'task glasses' or the way that most computer glasses are calculated are very generic prescription modifications that can be causing you problems.

THE FIX: Now that you've found the optometrist who specializes in neuro-optometry or vision therapy, be sure to be specific about how you will need to be using your glasses. Measure your distance to the computer screen at your work station.  Use glasses that are specially designed for your desk setup, and ensure that they are prescribed specifically for you and your setup, not just a generic 'computer' or 'task' lens-based off your distance prescription.

Photophobia and light sensitivity

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What could be causing my light sensitivity and what can I do about it?

Photophobia, or light sensitivity can have multiple causes, and many companies have filters, tints, or special glasses claiming to help. It’s important you know how to find the route cause of your photophobia, and how to treat it.


Uveitis, Iritis, or inflammatory conditions.

The most obvious causes for photophobia (light sensitivity) are physically problems with the eye that cause the light to scatter as it passes through the eye. One of the most common is termed iritis and refers to inflammation inside the eye. If this is the cause of your light sensitivity it will be easily detected. It is most often treated with steroids, and/or treating any underlying systemic conditions. For the short term sunglasses or dark lenses can be worn, as the light sensitivity in these cases usually resolves within days to a week.

Concussion or head injury

Photophobia (light sensitivity) is common after concussion and head injury. Unless there is physical damage to the eye (causing iritis or uveitis), the light sensitivity is most often linked to problems with how the eyes and the brain work together. This could be because the eyes are not working together properly, sometimes called binocular dysfunction or binocular vision disorder, or because the brain is having trouble processing the light. Treatment options range from specialty glasses prescriptions including prism, light filters such as FL41 or blue tints, and vision therapy. It is important to see a neuro-optometrist, who specializes in testing and treating how the eyes and the brain work together.

General Photophobia

Photophobia that isn’t well explained by uveitis can often be caused by problems with how the eyes work together. It can sometimes have been there for the majority of a person’s life, slowly getting worse. Other times it can seem to onset after years of working at a computer, which sometimes gets referred to as computer vision syndrome. Most often this type of photophobia presents with headaches, dizziness, screen sensitivity or with what people assume is sensitivity to blue light. Often this type of photophobia is due to problems with how the eyes are working together, and the strain that is often put on the visual system. An examination with a neuro-optometrist who specializes in this area of treatment (including prisms, filters, and vision therapy), should be able to uncover the reason why and provide solutions. Treatment often involves specialty glasses that improve efficiency (and reduce symptoms), filters (such as Fl41) and vision therapy (to improve how the eyes and the brain work together).

Treat the reason it’s happening

In any case of photophobia or light sensitivity, the most important part is treating the underlying condition that is causing the photophobia. Cases of inflammation like uveitis should be seen by your optometrist or ophthalmologist in order to diagnose via slit-lamp examination and treat with steroids or other medication. If this has been ruled out, it is important to see a neuro-optometrist who specializes in vision therapy, specialty glasses prescriptions (including Fl41 and other tints), and tinted lenses. This way you can get to the root of the problem and see improvements.

Nighttime Driving Tips Against Glaring Headlights


It's the time of year when it's hard to escape driving in the dark. Glare from new LED or HID headlights, water on the road, rain, snow and more all gets worse when it's dark out.  Often it gets to the point when people have to stop driving at night all together.  Here are some of the main causes for problems driving at night.

  1. Certain eye health conditions can cause trouble with night driving.  The common causes are cataracts and macular degeneration.  Both are easily diagnosed and cataracts are easily treated.  Have your optometrist check you for cataracts and macular degeneration.
  2. If your prescription is out of date the unfocused images can cause more glare than there would otherwise be.  Be sure that you're working with a recent prescription that has been accurately made.
  3. Your prescription may be up to date, but it may still be a problem.  Sometimes the most up to date prescription for 'seeing clearly' can fail to solve problems driving at night.  In fact, your prescription may even be part of the problem.  This is because it's harder for your eyes to work together at night.  See an optometrist who specializes in neuro-optometry so that the prescription will take into account how your eyes work together during night time driving.
  4. If your eyes don't work together properly it can cause trouble with everything from double vision when driving at night, to complaints about the brightness of new car headlights.  Problems with how your eyes work together can sometimes slowly get worse over time, or it may come up suddenly after a concussion, head injury, whiplash, or vestibular neuritis. Have our Victoria  or Nanaimo neuro-optometrist check how your eyes are working together, and how it will affect your night time driving.

Dynamic Duo Podcast


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Cameron McCrodan gave a Ted Talk about the unknown or often overlooked parts of the visual system. Having over 36,000 views on Youtube, his speech has caught the eye of many adults, parents, students, and professionals, including Dr. Stull and Dr. Edwards. We welcome him on this month’s podcast!

Things you will learn in this episode:

  • Unlike a disease, it is difficult to show people what is happening or understand what the patient can see. This is why it can be overlooked or not treated if the doctor or patient are uneducated on this topic.
  • To a certain extent, people aren’t just “stuck” with their vision; because it is “such a learned process, you can make it more accurate”
  • Although studies can be helpful, it is important to “dig deeper” and fully understand the logistics behind the numbers and conclusion.
  • Approximately “12%-18% may have binocular issues”; however, many go undetected or do not interfere with everyday life.
  • Understanding what a patient wants to get from an exam can help tailor it and connect more with the patient.
  • Going through VT can improve so much more than just vision. Children and adults can see a change in behavior, self esteem, or schoolwork/work.
  • Cameron compares a child with a vision issue like a day at work with your computer down. You are still expected to do the same tasks but it is frustrating and focused your energy away from your responsibilities.

Listen to the podcast here.

Beyond Blindness Podcast

Listen to the podcast here:

On this episode you will learn three things:

What is Dyslexia? Diagnosing Dyslexia with an optometrist Understanding how the visual system works. 00:01 About doctor Cameron McCrodan

01:24 Why is Dr. Cameron McCrodan’s message important for you.

02:37 How did Dr Cameron McCrodan transitioned from being a regular optometrist to a doctor that focuses on the way that be I functions properly.

05:10 What is visual development

06:01 How visual development affects older people

08:15 What sets you apart from other optometrists?

10:33 What is dyslexia?

13:06 How to assess dyslexia?

15:53 Creating dyslexia awareness

18:24 Dyslexia and visual tracking

22:10 How to treat dyslexia.

26:00 How long does it take to treat dyslexia?

26:39 Delimitations to treat dyslexia online

30:25 Advice Dr. Cameron McCrodan to anybody who has dyslexia

35:58 Three things Dr. Cameron McCrodan does to stay on top of his game.

40:00 Section “On the way I see it

Back to School Time & Your Child’s Vision

It’s back-to-school time, and your child could be struggling because of one of four vision problems that eye exams often don’t pick up.

1. Eye tracking: If the eyes don’t track properly through text, how would you expect somebody to read well? Take a look at the video on this page, at 0:21. The reader on the left – as you can see here, eyes don’t track properly through the text. She skips lines, loses her place, and mixes up the information. Her reading fluency sounds terrible, while the reader on the right is your average reader. Notice the difference?

2. How the eyes actually work together: On the video at 0:41, you can see here that the two eyes actually do the same thing while they’re tracking. On this one, the two eyes don’t work together at all. No wonder there’s problems! At 0:52 the is an example of a grade-10 girl when she was a C-student, and you can note the eyes not working together. At 0:57, when she’s an A-student, you can see that they do work together.

3. Eye focusing: If the eyes don’t shift their focus accurately, sustaining attention is much harder and it’s even hard to copy off the board.

4. How the brain makes sense of visual information: This has everything to do with the visual memory required for spelling or understanding the difference between the hand motions I make in the video at 1:19, which is at the heart of a lot of letter reversals. So, if your child is struggling in school, even though they may have had an eye exam, please make sure to have their eye tracking, teaming, focusing and the visual processing tested. Find a developmental or neurological optometrist near you. Browse our site for more information.

Happy learning!

Testing for ADHD? Don’t overlook this!

It’s back to school, and back to paying attention. It’s also often the time of year it’s suggested to parents that they have their child assessed by a psychologist for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or attention deficit disorder (ADD).

This generally comes up because a child is having difficulty maintaining their focus in class. It’s often hard for them to stay on task when reading, writing or similar. Sometimes the idea for psych ed testing comes up because that child is struggling with reading, writing, or other areas of learning. But there are a few things that are commonly overlooked during the testing process, and could leave your kid struggling or mis-diagnosed.

7 of the 9 symptoms of AD(H)D can be caused by problems with how the eyes work together. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If your eyes cannot focus or track efficiently, it will be much more difficult to do the task, and you don’t be able to do it for as long. See the TEDx talk here to dive deeper. Imagine if your child was riding a bicycle. If the tires were flat, and the wheels slightly bent, would you expect them to be able to perform properly, or to ride their bike for as long as the other kids? Of course not! The same goes with their eyes. On top of that, they need to use their eyes for all psych ed testing.

80% of struggling readers have problems with how their eyes work. Problems with eye tracking, focusing, or binocularity (how the eyes work together) have to be specially tested. Many eye exams with the optometrist or ophthalmologist only test visual acuity (clarity), and the physical health of the eyes. This means that children commonly get told that their vision is ok, when there are still problems with how it functions. If the eyes cannot move properly through the text, how could you expect a child to learn well? This makes it even harder to stay focused!

Have your child tested for binocular vision dysfunction, eye tracking problems, and more. Make sure that you see a developmental or neuro optometrist who can test all the areas of how your child’s vision works. Ask them to test tracking (often with special goggles), accommodation (focusing), and binocularity (convergence and eye teaming). If it is a problem with how vision works, it can be very treatable. Treatment may involve specially prescribed glasses and/or vision therapy. If applicable, treatment success rates are greater than 95%.

Psych ed testing and ADHD testing is important and has its place within our system. Children can also have ADHD as well as vision problems, making their symptoms even worse. For these reasons, any parent looking at doing a psych ed assessment for their child should make sure that the eye tracking and teaming is fully tested.

We offer advanced testing in Victoria and Nanaimo that can determine if vision causing problems with attention and focus. If it’s part of the problem, our advanced treatment methods can help get your young learner back on track Testimonials.