We had our weekly Vision Therapy appointment and my daughter is doing extremely well. I am so proud of her!
Last week we worked on Circle/Triangle Jumps, See 3 Coins and MAR (flipper/accommodation) using flipper lenses with a -3.00 lens (the week before she used a +3.00).
Circle/Triangle Jumps involves a taped line on the floor, and my daughter looking at a chart of circles/triangles positioned at different points of a line. As she reads each image, she has to jump to the appropriate side of the line, and tap her right or left hand on her leg, depending on which side the triangle lies. Confused? I’m not doing the description justice (Remember, I’m not an optometrist or a trained vision therapist), but my daughter thinks it’s a lot of fun! The challenge for her is tracking as she sometimes loses her place, limited awareness of the space around her and having to remember both right/left for her hand and body. But she’s doing it!
See 3 Coins includes a card with a coin (a penny in this case) taped on either side. My daughter uses a pencil as her focal point, bringing it close towards her nose. In the distance she holds the card with the coins. Eventually she goes from seeing 2 coins to 3, and she’s to hold her eyes in that position (seeing three coins) for as long as she can (we time how long). We’re able to see her eyes turn inwards, although her left eye lags behind a wee bit, while she holds her focus. My husband and I have tried this exercise and it isn’t easy. My daughter thought it was pretty funny that she could hold position longer than her Dad. And she was surprised that I couldn’t do it at all (likely related to my being amblyopic as a child – but that’s another story!) See 3 Coins is a challenge for my daughter as convergence is an issue, but she is determined to make it work.
For MAR (flipper/accommodation), my daughter wears her reading glasses, we patch one eye, and she holds +/- flipper lenses against her glasses while she reads material at an appropriate distance. In this case we used -3.00 lenses. (Week before last, we used +3.00 lenses.) The plus lenses allow the muscles of her eyes responsible for focussing to relax; the minus lenses force those same muscles to work harder to focus. Our daughter is able to focus fairly quickly (unlike her father and I who need several seconds before the image comes into focus. Darn these middle-aged eyes of ours!), but we have noticed that her reading slows a little as we approach the 5-minute mark and her ability to focus slows, when her eye muscles tire.
This week we’ll continue with See 3 Coins, but my daughter no longer needs to use the pencil. We will continue with MAR, but we’ll be alternating between -3.00 lenses and +3.00 lenses. Our daughter has also moved on to the final level of Circle/Triangle Jumps called Double Circle/Triangle Jumps. She tends to race through it in an attempt to just get it done, so we’ll also be concentrating on slowing her down a little bit. Finally, much to my daughter’s amusement, we’ll be playing “Super Heroes”. We’ve decided that we’ll both do this activity together. It involves my daughter staring really hard at a focal point using her “super powers” to burn through it (*wink*), then we’ll relax, and stare at the focal point gently. The idea is for my daughter to acquaint herself with the sensation of her eye muscles as they are working to focus, and then compare how her eyes feel when she’s focussed on an object while relaxed. This is in preparation for future activities in her VT program.
These homework exercises sound fairly simple, don’t they? You may be wondering how any of this could possibly help a child with visual issues. As a parent learning about vision therapy as I go (versus a trained professional in the field of behavioural optometry) I don’t have the knowledge to explain the intricacies of it, but I definitely see the difference. In between our weekly appointments we have five days of VT homework, usually by day 3 I’m able to notice an improvement in how my daughter handles the routines. Often times, it’s very subtle, but it’s there, and as far as I’m concerned it’s an indication that we’re progressing in the right direction.