we need to know…
A question was posted recently on the Facebook page of the Vision Therapy Parents Unite group that caught my eye. It’s a topic tackled many times before, and since it’s surfacing once again, let’s have another go of it. The post read:
Headaches during vision therapy practice at home–any advice? Peter is 9–convergence insufficiency, etc. We’re having a hard time getting through without a lot of breaks/tears.
Symptoms of visual stress manifest differently in all of us with one of the biggest and most common being headaches. Might the headaches be caused by the Convergence Insufficiency? Or weak Accommodative (focusing) system? Possibly inaccurate eye movements? Or even an inability to efficiently process information taken through the eyes?
Yes, yes, yes and yes.
As therapists our goal is never to make the symptoms worse, in fact, quite the opposite. The reality though is that as we begin to address a certain need or deficiency – be it mechanical or perceptual – the initial demand of an activity can briefly and temporarily increase the patient’s visual stress, thereby exacerbating symptoms. It’s short term, and in some cases, just unavoidable. A fair comparison would be anyone who has returned to the gym after being absent for several years. The long term goal is for health, strength and improvement; that is to say after you overcome the unavoidable aches, pains and subsequent soreness of the first several workouts. The same principles apply to the visual system.
Although most Vision Therapy programs are built upon a hierarchy of visual development, much of the demand required from an activity is determined by the therapist. We tweak it, bend it, and twist it to make sure we are addressing the necessary areas. Our goal is always to work through the most troubling symptoms while causing the patient as little discomfort as possible. Sometimes it works great, and other times, not so much. And yes, sometimes we just miss the mark.
The best advice every parent or patient in this situation needs to remember is simple: Talk to your therapist, please.
For Vision Therapy to work, it has to be a collaborative effort. Starting with the doctor and therapist, including mom and dad (or designated guardian), right on through to the patient. We need the parental feedback to help maintain forward progress and make adjustments when necessary. Many times younger patients will tell me everything is great with their home activities, only to find out from mom or dad that the mere mention of therapy at home is an instant tear fest. It’s a much different picture and is important information. The communication between parents and those of us administering Vision Therapy is crucial to a successful program!
If you have questions, or the activities seem too hard, or symptoms are becoming worse, or in the rare case that none of it seems to be working – don’t be shy!
We need to know.