Washington Vision Therapy Center has provided services to the Yakima and Richland area since 2010. With that many years in practice, we have had great success with providing vision therapy to children and adults, helping them to be the best they can be. Whether in academics or recovering from an auto accident, our optometrists are dedicated to helping you gain back control of your vision. You can read about our children success stories and adult success stories and you too can become a success story!
Feel free to call our vision therapy center in Yakima and Richland today to learn more at 509-654-9256!
Read stories of kids, teens and adults who found success at Washington Vision Therapy Center:
"When he read out loud it was hard to understand what was being said because it was so choppy"
Before vision therapy my son’s eyes would be unfocused, so it was hard for him to focus on individual words. This made it so he had terrible fluency. When he read out loud it was hard to understand what was being said because it was so choppy. Lack of fluency made comprehension difficult.
Now he can read smoothly, making it pleasant to hear him and easy to understand. He got a 4.0 at Morgan Middle School this year and I am confident that would not have happened without eye therapy.
"Our son has a new outlook on reading and it is easier since he is not seeing double every time he opens a book"
Our son started vision therapy having numerous issues, including a diagnosis of ADHD and avoidance towards reading. He was uncoordinated and had trouble with his fine motor skills. We discovered after a vision evaluation that he had some deep-rooted vision problems. We signed on for 32 weeks of therapy and were delightfully surprised with the results.
Our son has a new outlook on reading and it is easier since he is not seeing double every time he opens a book. His coordination has improved drastically and he enjoys doing fine motor tasks such as putting together legos. We have nothing but praise for Dr. Winters and his staff at WAVTC. Their personal touch, flexibility and caring personalities really make the therapy a joy. We can't say enough for how this has helped our child and will be forever grateful to Dr. Winters and his staff. If you are skeptical, do not be: this is by far the best thing that one can do for a child that is acting up in class, avoiding reading and not liking school. It very well may be just a vision issue.
" His Sunday School teacher says she can tell the difference in his ability to follow along and do the activities and seat work"
At five months old, my son was infected with a flu virus, which turned into meningitis. He suffered many serious seizures and strokes during his month in the hospital. Consequently, his vision has been affected. He has worn glasses since he was a year old. He has always been ‘clumsy’ and ‘uncoordinated’. He has had attention and focus issues. When it came time to learn to read, he was unable to decipher more than two-letter words and even that was very difficult. He continued to score high on oral evaluations. He learned his ABC’s very early and very quickly, impressing his preschool teacher as the only one who knew the sounds of the letters, but when he tried to look at words on paper (we had played oral letter games in the car) he was unable to link the letters together and often lost his place or even forgot what letter he had just seen. He was focusing so hard on just deciphering what he was seeing, that he couldn’t keep it in his head long enough to get any meaning out of it.
He had been through many evaluations and sessions of physical therapy and speech therapy at Children’s Village, so we weren’t sure what his problem was. His doctor said that his vision had been corrected with glasses to as near as 20/20 as he was going to get, but his symptoms continued. A Special Ed teacher friend recommended Washington Vision Therapy to us and we are so thankful. Dr. Winters evaluated him and his problems finally started making sense. We had new hope. There was a real reason he wasn't having success
At his first 8 week progress check, he had improved enough that he was gaining confidence and was willing to try again. By the second 8 week check, he'd begun to read without the frustration he had before, as long as we took things in small chunks. We’ve now completed 8 months of therapy. We will finish his last 8 weeks after taking a long (maybe 2 year) break in order for him to mature. He has been able to finish his first-grade reading program. He can focus on an assignment and doesn’t fall or trip nearly as much. His Sunday School teacher says she can tell the difference in his ability to follow along and do the activities and seat work. Best of all, he has confidence and doesn’t think he’s stupid anymore. He will get a book on his own and sit down to look at it. Even though reading isn’t easy for him, and he still struggles, he isn’t afraid to try because he’s having success.
My son has had difficulty with reading since kindergarten. It was obvious to me something just wasn’t right. When we would sit down to read it appeared he was reading well until we focused on recognizing specific words in the context of the material. It was difficult for me to understand why he couldn’t recognize simple sight-words (the, at, but, and, etc.), yet he could read larger words. I had never heard or seen this before and it made absolutely no sense. I also couldn’t understand how he had managed to get by for so long in school without really reading. I remember asking his teacher regularly throughout kindergarten and first grade how he was doing because things weren’t “adding up” at home when we worked on reading and homework. I kept hearing that he was doing fine. At the end of the year parent conference however, I was told he was so far behind that there was no way he could catch up. I couldn’t understand how this could be when he was “doing fine?” Why didn’t I trust my gut feeling that something wasn’t right? I blamed myself, thought that maybe I wasn’t doing enough; maybe we weren’t working hard enough. How could I not find him the help he needed? The hardest question I asked myself was how could I fail my son? Over the years that followed, we learned that he had become incredibly efficient at memorizing anything he verbally heard; this was how he compensated and managed to get by in school for so long. It was amazing to realize that he could barely read; yet he could learn, comprehend, and manage to do the work by using his auditory system.
I had taken my son to 4 or 5 optometrists to have his eyes examined wondering if this could be the problem. I had a gut feeling that his issue was a vision issue, not a sight issue. Every optometrist found the same thing: he had 20/20 vision with a slight astigmatism. They prescribed glasses for reading and close up work. When I took him in for his last yearly check-up before starting down this road of vision therapy, I really pressed hard with the same question as before, asking if this could be a vision issue, not a sight issue. I kept saying those are not the same things. He can “see,” but his eyes don’t seem to work correctly. I didn’t know how to explain what I meant any other way.
Out of the blue, at the end of our appointment, our optometrist decided to send us to another office in Yakima. He heard that they could do some vision testing for home therapy. My son went through more examinations followed by specific testing to see if he could benefit from vision exercises. It was found he could. It was also determined that his issue was beyond this doctor’s scope of practice. I so was pleased to finally have someone hear me; it made me finally feel validated. Everything I had been feeling and saying for 4 years had been addressed and I had a way to help my child have a future! Still frustrated but finally able to try to help his teachers understand he had some issues we were working on resolving, he was placed in Resource Reading class and got an IEP that allowed specific accommodations to be made so that he could test in a way that would help him. These resources helped him with his confidence. However, he continued to have difficulties in reading and had absolutely no interest in reading. He did have success in his overall school performance however due to his IEP and wonderful teachers.
We now started fifth grade, still frustrated that any major progress had not occurred. The feeling of helplessness and frustration at my own inability to keep my son from falling through the cracks in middle school was overwhelming. I couldn’t bear the thought of him not having a future. How could he succeed in life if he couldn’t read!?
One day, I was on Facebook and our lives changed in a moment. I read a post of a friend who had gone to a seminar for vision therapy at the Washington Vision Therapy Center (WAVTC). I immediately asked her where this office was. I contacted WAVTC and scheduled to attend their next seminar. As I sat there, tears filled my eyes and I wept as I read through the brochure! Every single item on it described my son perfectly. I looked at my husband and said “this is it, this is his issue!” When Dr. Winters started speaking I cried even more. This was it, this was the answer!! I left that office knowing I had to do this for my son! We scheduled testing for him and waited for the results. He was diagnosed with seven different visual conditions that would affect his ability to take in visual information. Dr. Winters estimated 9 months completion time for vision therapy. Within weeks, my son’s teachers, our friends and our immediate family noticed a significant difference in his confidence. It sky-rocketed! It was so obvious something was different and significantly helping him. His attitude changed, he became less aggressive and agitated. He quit rubbing his eyes all of the time and complaining about his eyes being tired. His severe headaches became minimal. He became a different child in many areas. School became a place he began to enjoy more and he didn’t feel as though he stood out in a bad way as much.
There were times of difficulty throughout this process and we were told at the outset of therapy that there would be plateaus in the process. I will never forget in August, 7 months from the start of therapy, we were both ready to give up. My son was frustrated and made every day difficult to get through his therapy. I was frustrated because he was being difficult and I was ready to give up too. At our next appointment I told Dr. Winters I didn’t know how much longer I could do this, and that I was scared it wasn’t going to “stick.” I will never forget what Dr. Winters said. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “My heart is in this! I don’t know what the problem is and why things aren’t connecting quite yet, but I will do whatever it takes to figure it out.” He was as determined to help my son as we were! We took a few weeks off for a break, came back strong and within a few weeks, to our amazement, we were done! What a bitter-sweet moment. On the day of my son’s graduation, I was stunned. I looked at Dr. Winters through tears of shock and relief and said “is it going to stick?” What a crazy question! He would never let us out of there unless it would.
My son is an inspiration to me! He completed vision therapy on October 5, 2011, exactly 9 months after starting the program. He was diligent, dedicated and extremely focused. He was a hard worker because he knew it was making a difference and that it was helping. Since completing vision therapy my son is much more confident, secure and relaxed. There is a huge difference from the child he was before who had little confidence and was frustrated, and was agitated and aggressive. He is now enrolled in the Read Right program to help improve his reading skills. Due to his vision issues he was very behind in reading, only at a mid-2nd grade-level in May of 2011. He is now, after 21.5 hours of tutoring, starting the 4th grade reading-level. His interest in reading has improved to the point that he now enjoys listening and reading along to books on his MP3 player and going to the library so he can participate in Battle of the Books for 6th grade. By the end of 6th grade I have no doubt my son will be reading at his grade level or beyond, therefore taking him out of Resource Reading and his IEP, which is our goal. He is able to read math word-problems now, whereas before he couldn’t get through the first few words. His teacher commented that she realized he had just started reading the problems to her instead of asking her to read to him. It has made me realize that everything is connected: vision comes first and then you build upon that foundation by adding new skills that complement his newly-found visual ability! It is a process which starts with fixing the issue, which was his vision.
This experience has given my son a new future. His life has been changed forever and he now has opportunities for successes in his life he may never have had before. In addition to the knowledge Dr. Winters, Dr. Copeland and the staff at WAVTC have in vision therapy, they also offer families hope, support and love. This program is about changing lives! Though you walk through the doors of WAVTC to help your child, wife, husband or grandchild, you walk out the same doors knowing that this program and people helped you and your entire family gain an incredible amount of knowledge, strength and progress! I would like to say a special THANK YOU to Dr. Winters, Carrie, Karen, Susan, and Adina from WATVC and to Bob and Carolyn McLaughlin and the tutors at Read Right for giving of themselves above and beyond, for their dedicated work and most of all for their passion to help others which drives them every day to get up and do it again and again! You are all sent from above, an answer to prayer. Our appreciation will never be expressed enough.
We love you, thank you and pray God blesses you in your lives as you have blessed us in ours!
"Now that I’m in school again I enjoy reading very much and my homework is no longer a headache."
I am 8 years old and a 3rd grade student at Garfield Elementary in Toppenish. In November of 2011, my mom took me in for a routine eye exam that showed that I was having trouble focusing with my eyes. My optometrist sent a referral for an evaluation with Dr. Winters for vision therapy. During my evaluation, Dr. Winters performed a variety of tests that indicated that I was having a hard time focusing, which was causing me to overwork my eyes.
Before vision therapy I had a hard time reading and writing. I was not able to read the words on the books that were given to me. As a result, my reading skills had decreased, as had my enthusiasm to learn and go to school. Homework was exhausting for me and for my mom. I would also get frequent headaches and my eyes were always very tired.
I started vision therapy in February of 2012. Through the months, my vision started to improve on a day-to-day basis. I had a total of 28 sessions to complete my vision therapy. During my summer break I was able to work on my vision therapy exercises. Every week was great! I was able to see and focus better in each of my activities. Now that I’m in school again I enjoy reading very much and my homework is no longer a headache. I can read in class and not be afraid that I will lose my place during reading. I am more active at school and plan to join sports.
I would like to thank Dr. Winters, Carrie and Adina for all their help!
"I’m getting better grades on homework, tests, and quizzes, and I am finishing my homework and reading faster"
My whole life I had double vision and I thought it was normal, until I got my eyes checked. Vision therapy helped me get rid of my double vision. It helped me be better at sports, video games, school and Boy Scouts. Vision therapy rocks!
It helped me in sports. In soccer I knew where the ball was so I could help keep it away from the goal. On video games, my scores are getting higher and I’m kicking butt on all of my games like Black Ops, Portal 2, and World of Warcraft. My school work has also been doing better. I’m getting better grades on homework, tests, and quizzes, and I am finishing my homework and reading faster.
The Boy Scouts went to camp this summer for a week at Camp Hohobas. I would have not have earned my Merit Badge in rifle and archery because I wouldn’t have been able to see the targets. I was one millimeter off from making it into the dime club for rifling.
Vision therapy helped me do more of what I want to do.
"My reading skills have drastically improved"
Before Vision therapy I had a hard time judging distance and catching a ball. I would skip over math problems and workbook questions and I didn’t like to read for more than a few minutes.
"Now I am fourteen years old and my eyes are a hundred times better than what they were."
Hello everyone, my name is James and I am from Selah. I was thirteen when I came to vision therapy. I had no peripheral vision, I could not see far distances, and I could not read a book because my eyes would blur. When I was in class and I was reading the board, I could not read a word on it, so I would ask my friend to read it to me. My teacher told me to read my book and it was a struggle. My writing was really bad during school because I could not see the line where I was supposed to write at.
When I was working in vision therapy, my teacher could tell I was really improving. There were times I really felt I wanted to be done with it but my family kept me doing my homework. When I did my homework they would give me these tickets and if you had enough you could get a prize like an iPod or GameStop gift cards or other fun stuff. Some amazing stuff in the vision center that really helped my eyes were the bug walk and some other stuff.
Now I am fourteen years old and my eyes are a hundred times better than what they were. I played football this year for Selah Jr. High School. Eye therapy has made a big difference in how I played during football. I got a lot of sacks and tackles this year because I have peripheral vision. I have been doing so well in school that I read 9th grade books to myself. Thank you.
"I now like to do math, writing, and reading"
Vision therapy helped me with reading, so the words do not move around on the paper. It also has helped me with math and writing. When I do my school work, I am no longer tired or distracted.
"We saw many improvements in tasks that were very difficult for her before vision therapy"
Over the last nine months as our daughter went through vision therapy, we saw many improvements in tasks that were very difficult for her before vision therapy. Before vision therapy, school work was extremely fatiguing for her. She came home from kindergarten with dark circles under her eyes and was fatigued almost every day. She was rarely able to finish copying a sentence down from the board, and reading and writing were extremely challenging.
"Seven months of therapy has changed this little girl!"
At 7 years old, our daughter was really struggling learning how to read basic short stories. She would frequently see the first letter in a word and then make up an entirely different word that started with the same letter. She wasn’t able to read a word with too many letters and she mixed letters up a lot. She also found it difficult to sit still while reading. Reading soon became a chore and was never fun or exciting. She had to be pulled out of class for additional tutoring in reading.
"She jumped up two reading levels and was not complaining any more"
We are so thankful for the experience we had at Washington Vision Therapy. Before we knew our daughter needed vision therapy, homework was such a frustration for me and for her! She would take hours to get it done when it should have taken 30 minutes. She would complain about reading every time and would be so tired after 3 minutes. I assumed she was just being lazy.
"What I love about vision therapy is that they will work at your own pace and everybody is super nice."
Vision Therapy has helped me in a lot of ways. When I read it was sometimes blurry. Now I can read as long as I want and the words do not get blurry. I am also a lot better at comprehension. I had troubles with remembering what I had read. What I love about vision therapy is that they will work at your own pace and everybody is super nice. I recommend vision therapy to everybody who is having trouble with types of reading. I enjoyed it a lot and I hope everybody else does too.
"After vision therapy, the world seems to have become much easier for my daughter."
Before vision therapy, my daughter would take twice as long to complete school work. She struggled with math, especially anything involving shapes (geometry). She had tremendous difficulty copying from the board to her paper. Her handwriting was extremely difficult to read and though she always tried hard, she was struggling in school.
After vision therapy, the world seems to have become much easier for my daughter. Homework now takes an appropriate amount of time, copying shapes is no longer difficult for her as she is no longer seeing double or having skewed vision. She appears to have less difficulty copying from the board and her handwriting is completely transformed- she now stays on the lines and her letters are beautiful! We are very thankful that we found Washington Vision Therapy Center and for all of the professional and caring staff here. Thank you all for helping my daughter gain a better view of the world!
“Mom, you know what the problem with vision therapy is? It gets you addicted to books!”
-Joseph, age 8
As the parents of a struggling reader, there was no better educational decision we could have made than to have him evaluated for a vision-related learning problem.
The summer after his first-grade year we had given up on encouraging our son to read. We decided we would continue to read to him, but we would not ask him to read to us. All through first grade, every time we sat down to read together, it was a small battle. Headaches, fatigue, excuses and a disdain for reading were the only results. He could read some sight words and decode them if cajoled but never for a sustained amount of time. He was struggling in school and his self-esteem was plummeting. He was a super sharp kid: what was the issue?
When our son was evaluated at Washington Vision Therapy Center our suspicions were confirmed. He had a vision-related learning problem. His eye movements were without control, he was over-focusing, and he was generally lacking in the basic visual skills necessary for efficient reading. Since his father is an optometrist, we knew we could do vision therapy at home, but to be really successful he needed to have someone other than just his parents helping him through the journey.
After six months of vision therapy, we had a new child! The child, who was struggling with basic beginning level second grade books before vision therapy, would stay up way past his bedtime reading several chapters of a Hardy Boys novel. His test scores in reading were just as encouraging. At the end of first grade, his standardized tests scores showed his reading level at first grade, fourth month. After vision therapy, at the end of second grade, his scores had skyrocketed to fourth grade, second month.
The journey wasn’t easy. At the beginning, getting him to his appointments was a challenge. He would hide, refuse to go, or sit outside the door of the office and pout. I would have to beg, bribe, and bargain to get him through the door. Completing home activities was no easier. If the activity was difficult he would just give up. He complained that vision therapy took away his play time. He whined. He fussed. But we persisted and finally, after he started having some successes (Mom, I can make you have three eyes!), he would readily go to his appointments with a smile on his face and binder in hand.
Quote from his 1st and 2nd grade teacher: “It’s like night and day, last year he was so moody and grumpy and struggling so much with reading. This year I haven’t seen the grumpiness nearly at all and he is doing great in all subjects. Something happened over the summer. A light went on!”
"When I read I don’t get sleepy anymore and the words are not blurry or floating above the lines."
I was only in pre-school when I started wearing glasses. I am now in 4th grade and am attached to my glasses. I only take them off to sleep or shower. Vision therapy was a struggle. I enjoyed going to therapy, but not the homework. I have noticed that I don’t need my mom standing by me when I’m doing my homework anymore. Math seems easier and my writing has gotten neater. When I read I don’t get sleepy anymore and the words are not blurry or floating above the lines.
Before I went to vision therapy I didn’t enjoy playing basketball. Sometimes I would see 2 or 3 basketball hoops, when there was really only one in front of me. I used to aim at the one in the middle and wouldn’t make any hoops. Now, I have better aim and can make the hoops.
One time I saw my baby brother standing by me. He doubled and I ran into the wall. I don’t bump into things anymore. My eyes don’t get tired and I am able to better control my anger. I’m glad I went to vision therapy, because it helped me a lot and might help me even more in the future.
"As a result of these lessons, I now am able to judge a fly ball in the outfield, and see the ball all the way as it crosses the plate. "
I am a sophomore in high school and I have played baseball since I was seven years old. Although I have never been the best player on the field, I was the player who always practiced longer and harder than any other member of my team. Since I started playing, I have always struggled with seeing the ball as it came across the plate, or judging a fly ball in the outfield.
In October of last year I was chosen to play on a 16U team for Brooklyn Baseball Academy. After the coach watched me practice for a couple of months, he pulled me aside one day and had me take a depth perception test which I failed. He asked my Mom to have my vision tested, especially my depth perception. Now for the last nine months, I have been a patient at Washington Vision Therapy Center.
Dr. Winters and my therapist James focused a lot of my therapy lessons around baseball. As a result of these lessons, I now am able to judge a fly ball in the outfield, and see the ball all the way as it crosses the plate. Because of my nine months of intense vision therapy, I was able to play approximately 50 games this summer as a pitcher and left fielder and never made an error in the field. For me, this is something I never thought could have been possible.
The second semester of my freshman year, I made the honor roll for the first time. Reading and seeing in the classroom has become easier and less stressful, and studying has become easier and less of a struggle. Vision Therapy has also helped with my driving; this summer I turned 16 and got my driver’s license. I am now able to judge distances better, and feel I am a much better driver because of my therapy lessons.
Because of Dr. Winters and James I am now able to perform at a higher level in the sport that I love, BASEBALL, and I have the confidence to know I can do anything I set out to do.
"Vision therapy made my eye not crooked"
Vision therapy helped me to have better sight and better depth perception. Vision therapy also helped me with catching a ball better.
"I’m pleased and thankful"
My son had had vision problems since he was young, I believe since infancy, but he was always told his vision and his eyes were good. It wasn’t until about kindergarten we were told that he needed glasses. But even with glasses, it always seemed he struggled to see. I noticed he seemed clumsy at times, and he struggled with his homework. I dreaded helping him with his homework because it took about an hour or longer for him to finish it and there were sometimes tears of frustration. He hated homework and reading.
" My son started Vision Therapy in the summer and for the first time Allen learned to water ski, though he had been trying for 3 years. He also gained the confidence to try out for the football team and earned a spot as a receiver."
From the time my son started reading he would get headaches. I could tell at the end of a school day how much reading and focusing he had done that day. On the days that he had to focus more he was jittery and could not sit still. He would have headaches that were of migraine intensity, complete with vomiting.
We spent years taking him to doctors and specialists. We had tests done to see if we could figure out how to help him. At his annual eye exam at the age of 13 we visited Dr. Winters for the first time. Dr. Winters diagnosed him with Convergence Insufficiency and suggested Vision Therapy.
After 6 months of Vision Therapy, Allen is a different child and a different student. He has had 2 headaches in the 7 months since starting Vision Therapy, which is a vast improvement from the 3 or 4 a week that he had been experiencing. I thought he was just an awkward gangly boy that would someday grow into his body and his big feet. Now, after Vision Therapy he has gained grace and coordination.
My son started Vision Therapy in the summer and for the first time Allen learned to water ski, though he had been trying for 3 years. He also gained the confidence to try out for the football team and earned a spot as a receiver. He had the confidence to negotiate the price of a snowmobile helmet from a dealer at the snow show. He also negotiated the price of a snowmobile for himself, this from the kid who before Vision Therapy would hide behind his parents without saying a word. During his first snowmobile ride of the season on his new machine, my son displayed balance, fast reaction times, and skill that he had not shown in the previous 3 years of riding.
After witnessing firsthand the change Vision Therapy has made in my son, I am a FIRM believer in its benefits. I encourage you to research Vision Therapy and talk with your eye care professional about the benefits that Vision Therapy may offer to you or a loved one.
Comments from the 13 year old patient
Before Vision Therapy I had a hard time catching balls and doing lots of water sports. Also, I would get headaches and migraines after reading for a while.
After Vision Therapy I have been able to do all of the things listed and some other things, such as football.
Thanks a million!
"The headaches started to subside and we started to see some real progress. "
Our son has suffered extreme headaches since 3rd grade. We consulted doctors and optometrists to no avail in order to discover why he was experiencing these headaches. They have affected his schoolwork, sports, and his home life. Late in 2011 the headaches started to intensify, so I scheduled another eye appointment, this time with Dr. Copeland at Costco. After various tests, Dr. Copeland referred us to Washington Vision Therapy Center. My son started therapy in spring of 2012 and continued until fall 2012, for a total of 28 weeks of therapy. It definitely wasn’t an easy road, between eye therapy homework, to the intense headaches he experienced when we first began.
In late August, Dr. Winters gave my son a pair of glasses that would help to relax his eyes when doing class work, playing handheld games, and doing other close-up work. After a couple of weeks we saw a big difference. The headaches started to subside and we started to see some real progress. My son has several issues with his eyes that contributed to his headaches and to his lack of attention when reading. The therapy, in combination with the glasses, gave him the tools to actually make his eyes do what he wanted them to do. By the middle of October, he was able to accomplish most of the activities given to him by his therapist, Annette. Annette did an amazing job working with my son. He is now able to concentrate in school and complete schoolwork in a timely manner. He is able to read more than a couple of paragraphs and was able to complete a chapter book over the summer, which was a major accomplishment. He seems to be happier and doesn’t mind wearing his glasses. He experiences extreme anxiety when he is working on a task and the glasses help to relax his eyes so he can concentrate on the task at hand. My son is now in 8th grade and starting to enjoy school and life.
If it wasn’t for Dr. Copeland referring us to Dr. Winters, the staff at Washington Vision Therapy Center, and my son making a huge commitment to help his eyes, this would not have been so successful. We are so grateful for the staff at Washington Vision Therapy Center and Dr. Winters. Thank you for making a huge difference in our child’s life.
"He is now able to focus and judge depth better than ever. Now, when it is time for a bedtime story, he reads the story to me."
At the age of three, my son was suffering from migraines. He was always tripping and falling, and he would turn his head to the right and look out of his eyes to the left whenever he was trying to focus on something. The migraines continued to get worse. He would become nauseated and would scream for help. We took him to see two optometrists and to Children’s Hospital in Seattle for an MRI over the course of two years and still we had no answers.
While I was attending Mommy Connection, Dr. Winters was invited to speak at one of our meetings. As I listened to his stories of children he and his staff had helped I knew vision therapy was our answer. My husband and I immediately set up a consultation and learned that our son was suffering from double vision and his depth perception was off. My son started vision therapy soon after.
After two years of hard work and an amazing commitment by our son and the entire staff at Washington Vision Therapy Center, we have seen a complete turnaround. He no longer turns his head to focus, he isn’t falling any more, and his migraines are few and far between. He is now able to focus and judge depth better than ever. Now, when it is time for a bedtime story, he reads the story to me.
My family and I couldn’t possibly show enough gratitude for all that Dr. Winters and the staff at WAVTC have done for our little boy. Thank you! Written by the mother of a 7 year old with Binocular Dysfunction.
"All the exercises that I couldn’t help but think were harder than they seemed completely reversed my convergence insufficiency."
Before I first realized there was something wrong with my vision, my grades were low, I was always tired and I had terrible headaches almost every day. I was taking medicine for my headaches so often that I carried it with me everywhere I went. I thought I had headaches because of my stress. One day as I was reading a textbook at school, I notice the words began to blur and dance around the page. I knew it was odd, but decided I would just keep tabs on it for a few more days. I never noticed this much before because I had a hatred for reading ever since I was in 3rd or 4th grade. As soon as I learned how to read, I read books all the time, and was always excited to read a new big book.
As my vision problems were becoming clearer to me, I talked to my parents about it. My dad took me to get my vision checked at the Costco vision clinic. The doctors did a few simple eye exams, but for me, they were very challenging. I struggled to clear the images. Afterwards, they told me and my stepmom that I had something called convergence insufficiency. I was clueless as to what it was, or meant. I had never even heard of convergence insufficiency before. The doctor explained that I was unable to converge (like crossing your eyes) at a normal level, and that made doing my school work difficult to do when thing were so close up. He described techniques that people like me did to make things easier. These were the very same things I did to help me concentrate on my school work. Common symptoms that take place were reoccurring headaches, just like I had. I was happy to finally find what was wrong with my vision; the next step was trying to find out how to fix it.
I was referred to Family Vision Care to see Dr. Copeland, who performed a series of similar eye exams. These were also difficult for me to do. He decided to have my eyes dilated the next day, which was quite an experience. He then further explained to me, my eye condition, and treatments plans. He told me about Washington Vision Therapy Center. I had no clue that you could do therapy exercises for your eyes.
When I met up with Washington Vision Therapy Center I was to do a set of tests that were graded, one of which if you scored over a 16, meant you had convergence insufficiency. I score a 46, this helped Dr. Winters conclude that I definitely had convergence insufficiency. Later that month I had scheduled visits for the beginning of my therapy. My vision therapist, James, gave me my homework binder, and showed me some of the tools we would be using. I was expected to be in therapy for about 8 months depending on how well I progressed. I completed in 4. This amazed not only me, but my family, and many members of Washington Vision Therapy center staff. After completing my therapy sessions, I now love reading, to such an extreme, that I am now buying books ranging from 4 to 6 inches thick online and complete them in as little as 2 days. I have no use for carrying Advil with me, because the headaches have vanished. Best of all, my grades have never ever been better.
All the exercises that I couldn’t help but think were harder than they seemed completely reversed my convergence insufficiency. I couldn’t have done it without the love and support from my family, Dr. Copeland, Dr. Winters, my vision therapist James, and the rest of the staff at Washington Vision Therapy center. I thank you all so much for helping me with my speedy recovery.
"We feel like we have our son back."
My older son and I have always been close. He has always been my biggest support, and he was always in a good mood. He has a great sense of humor that in my worst days would always make me smile. Everything went good between us. But when he turned 13, something changed. He was mad often and argued with me, as well as with his brother and his dad. I thought this must just be puberty. Soon I discovered that there was more wrong than just his mood. School had always been kind of hard for him, but he always was able to get his work done. But now he was failing in two or three of his classes. He began to complain about headaches and avoided his homework. He learned that if he didn’t bring his grades up, he would not be able to continue playing soccer for school. He would cry when I told him he must get his homework done.
"It has been a whirlwind year of questions, anxiety, learning and relief. "
It is hard for me to know how to begin my son’s story. I am still processing all that I have learned over the past year. Vision Therapy is something I had never heard of until September 2010 when our optometrist mentioned that he thought my son could benefit from it. It has been a whirlwind year of questions, anxiety, learning and relief. There are finally answers for the traits that our son has always had, that he has now overcome and through which he is even now continuing to blossom.
My son has always been the quiet one of our family. We have six children and five of them are boys. As a toddler, he played well with his brothers, running and jumping as little boys do. He seemed to have great coordination skills. As he grew, I noticed that he didn’t have much confidence in himself. He would often sit out of play if he didn’t think that he could do what his brothers could. Being our quiet one, I really didn’t think much about it.
Soon it was time for me to start to teach him how to read. I started with the same reading program I used with his brother. I had breezed through it with my older son and was excited to use it with the younger. About a third of the way through, I knew it wasn’t working and thought he just wasn’t ready yet. I put it aside for about six months and then tried again. It went a little better and he made it through the program, but not as easily as his brother.
I just kept telling myself that everyone learns at their own pace and that he would get it if we just kept working at it. I read every school subject to my son from kindergarten to second grade, with the exception of his assigned reading. He learned well, he just couldn’t read well. Along with the difficulty with reading, he was also tired all the time. He rarely made it through the school day without needing a nap.
My husband and I thought that we should have his eyes checked before he began the third grade. We found out that he was far-sighted, so much so that Dr. Qunell started him on only half of his prescription strength. What a relief for all of us! Our son could see and he was delighted to be able to see the words on the pages of his text books.
Unfortunately, he was still tired by mid-morning and often seemed to be “goofing off” instead of working on his studies. I was getting quite frustrated with him and even with myself for not being able to get him through his school day in a timely manner. He just couldn’t seem to stay focused. I was still reading about half of his school work to him which was stressful as I had two other sons who needed my attention with their school work too.Throughout the school year I again reminded myself that my son just needed a little more time than my other boys. He would eventually catch up to where he needed to be. Maybe it wouldn’t always be so hard for him.
We began fourth grade. He had another eye exam. Dr. Qunell gave him a stronger prescription but this time he noticed that my son had Convergence Insufficiency. He referred us to Dr. Winters for Vision Therapy. We had our first visit with Dr. Winters and his staff at Washington Vision Therapy Center. We listened as he described our son to us. It was the middle of December 2010 when my son started therapy. He finished at the end of June 2011. He worked hard at his therapy. The change in him over the last few months has been remarkable. He has stopped complaining about fatigue and rarely naps. He asks to read his own lessons. He asks his brothers to play catch and basketball with him. He even read his first chapter book and has enthusiastically started his second.
He is more confident in himself with each passing day. I have to say that I am excited to see what he will do in the fifth grade without the hindrance of having to use most of his thoughts and energy on simply getting his eyes to work properly and focus on seeing one letter or word at a time. Now he will simply be able to apply them and the tools he has learned to complete the task at hand.
Thank you to Dr. Aaron Qunell for diagnosing my son and sending us to Dr. Winters. Thank you to Dr. Winters for working with our son, and with us too. Thank you to Emmily who made him feel special from the very start, for showing him that he could anything he set his mind to and that he could take charge of his eyes and of himself with confidence. Thank you to Susan who completed his therapy with the same patience and care as Emmily. Also to Karen and Rene who always greeted us with their lovely smiles and willingness to answer whatever questions we have had. Vision Therapy has been a life-changing experience for our whole family.
"She is no longer viewing school as horrible place to be, but wants to be there."
My daughter has always been a very cheerful, outgoing girl. She was always ready to take on a new task. However, we noticed very early on a hesitation in her when it came to her schoolwork, especially reading and writing. As time went on, this became more pronounced and she became noticeably discouraged and frustrated. She said “I can’t” a lot and it was very difficult to figure out why she couldn’t. She started to view school as something she couldn’t do. She complained of headaches often. She was embarrassed at not being able to keep up with the other children when reading. She no longer wanted to go to school. It took hours to get her to do the smallest bit of homework. Her self-confidence began to plummet in this area. A little girl who had always wanted to someday become a veterinarian now began to doubt her ability to ever do that.
After vision therapy, my daughter has begun to catch up with her classmates. She is no longer viewing school as horrible place to be, but wants to be there. She not only can tolerate having to read, but has started to enjoy it and now asks to read. Her headaches are almost totally a thing of the past. The confidence we see so much in other areas of her life has started to reveal itself at school too. In the last year, her “I can’ts” have turned into “I cans!” We seem to have so much more time in the evenings because homework doesn’t take nearly as long and there are definitely far less tears! She is also back to believing that one day she will be a veterinarian. Vision therapy has definitely changed my daughter’s life for the better. I cannot imagine where we would be today had we not found it!
"I do not feel embarrassed in school anymore. My friends and I cheer at school sometimes and play on the monkey bars."
Dear Vision Therapy,
Thank you all for helping me with reading and math. I am doing great in school. I have A’s and B’s. You guys helped me with my school academics. I love your trampoline in your building, it is very fun to play on. Thank you Emmily for letting me be on the trampoline while you were talking to my mom when she was at work, and I was doing vision therapy. I miss coming to therapy because you guys are nice and funny. I am doing well in sports too. I can hit all the baseballs I want and make all the baskets in my basketball games. You guys have helped me with my confidence too. I do not feel embarrassed in school anymore. My friends and I cheer at school sometimes and play on the monkey bars. I am so happy with my new life. Thank you again.
Before I began vision therapy, I had headaches every week, I had trouble reading, and I was very moody. If I spent too much time in front of a computer screen I would come home from work feeling very exhausted and stressed. Sometimes my eyeballs would feel like popping out of the sockets inside my head. I thought I needed to deal with my stress, or else I needed an adjustment from my chiropractor. Even though I tried many things, they never gave me permanent relief.
"I am a believer in vision therapy and its potential to change lives"
I didn’t go to Washington Vision Therapy Center expecting anything in particular to happen. My son-in-law, James, works there as a therapist, and he and my daughter kept encouraging (nagging) me to go. I’m not really sure what they were expecting to happen either, but I’m pretty certain it wasn’t what Did happen!
"Due to poor peripheral vision and depth perception, my friends at work would laugh at me when I would run into things and knock stuff over, because they had come to expect that I was just clumsy."
Before starting Vision Therapy in December of 2014, I struggled in many different areas of my life. Reading was a slow and difficult task; words would blur in and out of focus, and letters and numbers never seemed to want to stay in the same place. Due to poor peripheral vision and depth perception, my friends at work would laugh at me when I would run into things and knock stuff over, because they had come to expect that I was just clumsy. I had basically given up and expected that I would always have trouble reading and poor coordination.
"Learning to gain control over what I felt was out of control was very empowering."
I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when I looked at the example of a person’s vision when they have Convergence Insufficiency. I thought, finally, someone understands what my world looks like! I have been struggling with this since I was about 18 years old, and that was a long time ago. It had started to interfere with the things I loved to do, such as reading and quilting. Work was also becoming very difficult and frustrating.
You changed James' life and we will forever be grateful! His last appointment was great and better than before if possible. Sorry we won't see you again but we are so excited James is completely finished! Thank you just doesn't seem sufficient but is all we have to say! Thank YOU!!
Meet The Developmental Optometrist
Dr. Winters is board-certified in vision development and vision therapy. In 2010, he started a vision therapy center in Yakima, Washington. His advocacy for children that struggle with life-altering developmental vision problems has included over 100 lectures in colleges, professional groups, parent groups, and schools. He is one of the founders of Building Vision, a non-profit that raises awareness and funds for individuals struggling with these vision problems and which has given free screenings to almost 1000 children in the Yakima area. He established the Harvest in the Heart of the Northwest Conference which is an educational seminar held biennially in Yakima, providing continuing education specific to developmental optometry. He is the clinical director of Washington Vision Therapy Center and is currently serving as the president of the Yakima Valley Optometric Society.