The majority of the stories I have encountered regarding Vision Therapy involve children who are struggling in school, or adults & children with amblyopia or strabismus who lack consistent stereo-vision. Their struggles are what prompted them (or their parents) to pursue Vision Therapy.
As I read about Vision Therapy I have learned about its benefits for athletes, stroke survivors, individuals who have sustained concussion and the side-effects post-trauma. I have also learned that some developmental optometrists and vision therapists were drawn to their respective professions through personal experiences or that of someone very close to them. However, it was during a candid discussion with my daughter’s optometrist, Fabian Tai, O.D. that I realized there’s another group of people for whom vision therapy is beneficial. Those who did well in school, are successful in their professions and likely don’t even realize that there’s anything wrong within their visual system.
Turns out, Dr. Tai is one such person.
As a weekly regular at the optometry clinic opportunity has allowed for casual discussions with Dr. Tai and some of his staff. It was during one such discussion that Dr. Tai shared with me how he came to pursue developmental optometry and more importantly, how he came to discover that he [unknowingly] had issues with his vision for years and is now undergoing vision therapy to correct them.
(I assure you I am sharing his story with his blessing, and perhaps it will inspire some of our readers to share theirs.)
Generally, Dr. Tai did well in school. He was a straight A student and yet he can recall as early as the second grade being confused in class. Rather than ask for help he’d look to the classmates seated on either side of him for clues to help him figure things out because he couldn’t understand the instructions the teacher had given. He likened the experience to that of one of the Peanuts characters in a Charlie Brown television special and the “wah-wah-wah” sound of an adult’s voice.
He recalls scoring excellent grades in school, usually achieving top marks in his classes. However it wasn’t easy and he often spent long hours studying for tests, eventually falling asleep because his eyes hurt. Sometimes he felt anxious and frustrated when having trouble with his studies, but he thought this was normal for a typical student.
It wasn’t until after Dr. Tai became an Optometrist and attended a vision therapy course in the United States that he realized a missing piece in his practice. He knew there was an association with how people performed in their eye exams and their visual process to see the world. But the specialized area of Vision Therapy was not taught at his school of Optometry in Canada. (It is more commonly taught in Optometry schools in the United States.)
He knew he had trouble crossing his eyes and had attempted to correct it with classical therapy of pencil push-ups and computer programs. But it didn’t help, and eventually he gave up, not realizing the link between his ability to cross his eyes and reading performance. After he began his training in Vision Therapy, Dr. Tai realized how hard his body worked to read. There were treatment exercises he just couldn’t do and others made him physically exhausted. Hence his pursuit of a Vision Therapy program for himself, one he is still undergoing. (By the way, he has finally solved his problem of being unable to cross his eyes, through treating the whole visual process rather than just focussing on the single issue as the classical treatment methods do.)
In addition, Dr. Tai has always wondered about children’s natural curiosity for the world around them and why some of those naturally curious children lose their enthusiasm for learning when they get older. His understanding of the development process of the visual system enables him to look for more specific signs that would contribute to this [seemingly] sudden loss of motivation to learn and the visual- specific signs that may deter a child from wanting to learn to read or write.
But Dr. Tai tells me this wasn’t the only revelation that motivated him to offer vision therapy in his practice. Fatherhood was the other.
Like most of us who have children, Fabian Tai experienced that 180 degree shift that comes when you find yourself responsible for the well-being and development of someone whom you love more than life itself; his daughter. While too young to determine whether she’ll need vision therapy, she still plays a role in Dr. Tai’s quest to help his young patients reach their full potential. As a mother of two young children, I can’t think of a better motivation.
Dr. Tai understands what his Vision Therapy patients are going through, because he has walked a similar path himself. His first-hand experience leads him in his practice to help both children and adults who may be struggling with specific skills such as reading and writing, as well as those who are working hard, investing considerable energy in common day-to-day tasks, and are still not able to reach their full potential.
Fabian Tai has compassion for his patients and wants to see each of them succeed. This has been evident to me through my daughter’s experience with vision therapy. We feel very fortunate to have found Dr. Tai and his team.
If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area and are looking for a Behavioral/Developmental Optometrist consider Fabian Tai, O.D. www.drfabiantai.com in Mississauga. Are you outside of the Greater Toronto Area? Please refer to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and click “Find a Doctor” located in the top right corner of their page. Or visit the Optometric Extension Foundation’s webpage and click on “Find an Optometrist.”