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Trouble Focusing? Vision Therapy Can Help

Healthy eyes work as a team to focus on near and far objects. People with healthy eyes and visual systems are able to use their eyes together as a team to bring items into focus quickly and effortlessly. However others struggle to quickly change their focus between near and far, or keep their object of regard clear, with or without the help of glasses or contact lenses. Fortunately, vision therapy can help treat this problem and bring the world into proper focus.

Eye care professionals often use the phrase “accommodative dysfunction” to describe a visual system that has trouble focusing easily and accurately either at near, in the distance, or going from near to far. This vision problem is not the same as simply being nearsighted or farsighted – this type of eye problem can even affect people who seem to have 20/20 vision and is not correctable by eyeglasses or contact lenses alone.

Normally, eyes can focus on an object for a very long time. They can also change focus rapidly from near to distance to near, and so forth. Some people, however, have difficulty maintaining focus for a long time, while reading, or have trouble switching focus quickly between near and far objects.

students in a classroom

Accommodative Dysfunction can also cause:

  • Blurred vision, near or distance
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty reading
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Avoidance of near work, such as reading

The condition is especially difficult for children, in that as much as 80 percent of what we learn is processed visually. Copying words from a whiteboard onto paper is particularly difficult for children with accommodative dysfunction. It takes a moment to bring the whiteboard into focus. Then, when they look down at their paper or book, they have to devote time and energy to refocusing their eyes. By that time, the teacher may have moved on.

Because refocusing their eyes takes such tremendous effort, many children with accommodative dysfunction avoid reading or dislike taking notes from the whiteboard. Concerned parents often worry that a child seems bright but is struggling in school. Since video games do not require the same visual skills as reading, many children have no trouble with them but avoid schoolwork. Standard distance vision tests may not reveal accommodative dysfunction or other trouble focusing and concentration, leading parents to believe the child has a behavioral issue rather than a medical one. Many children are mistakenly diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, or other learning disabilities rather than getting the care they need.

Our Developmental Optometrists Discuss Vision Therapy for Accommodative Dysfunction

Our developmental optometrists provide vision therapy to help patients overcome accommodative dysfunction. Research shows that vision therapy is effective in treating accommodative dysfunction.

Vision therapy is an individualized treatment plan that may include procedures using lenses, prisms, instrumentation, visual exercises and covering one of the eyes with a patch, known as occlusion.

If you have trouble focusing and concentrating, you may benefit from vision therapy. To learn if vision therapy is right for you, make an appointment with Washington Vision Therapy Center. We have two convenient locations in Yakima and Richland, WA, but we also gladly serve patients living in Ellensburg, Wenatchee, Kennewick, Pasco and throughout the state of Washington. Call us today at 509-654-9256.


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