The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effects of vision therapy in a school setting in which elementary school children, enrolled in a reading-mentoring program, Caring Adults Teaching Children How (CATCH), were trained as a group. The experimental goal was to improve visual-motor and visual perceptual skills, with the use of vision therapy in short sessions given weekly at school, to children with reading difficulties. Sixty students were selected after the use of the Developmental Eye Movement test’s (DEM) exclusion criteria and were randomly assigned into one of two groups: vision therapy and non-therapy. Both groups received CATCH tutorial visits once a week for 50 minutes. In addition, the therapy group received a weekly 30 minute activity session in which three activities were completed from the following: oculomotor, accommodation, binocularity, visual motor and visual memory. The results revealed that vertical and horizontal eye movements and accommodative facility were significantly improved after 22 sessions of group vision therapy. These improvements were related to attentional mechanisms leading to improved reading abilities. We believe this preliminary study gives evidence of the advantages of a program whereby vision therapy is provided in the elementary school setting to advance deficient visual skills that are related to learning and cognitive enhancement.
Developmental Eye Movement Vertical - There was a statistically significant improvement in vertical eye tracking in the therapy group compared to those not treated when tested at the midterm point, F (1,45) = 3.81, p< .05. As seen in Figure 1A, the therapy group at each grade level had a greater percentile vertical tracking score than the non-therapy group. End of year vertical tracking scores compared to midterm scores showed another significant treatment effect, that is, while each group improved their scores, the therapy group scores remained higher, F (1, 43) = 5.00, p< .03 (Figure 1B). When comparing all 3 vertical eye tracking scores, there was a significant improvement across the year for the group receiving therapy, F (1,43) = 4.92, p< .03, demonstrating a continued improvement in the therapy group. There was no significant difference between grades or treatment interaction with grade. Horizontal - Testing for horizontal eye tracking at mid year showed a statistically significant increase in performance for those receiving therapy, F (1, 46) = 5.54, p< .02 (Figure 2A). Midterm horizontal tracking scores compared to the final scores produced a statistically significant interaction between treatment group and time, F (1, 41) = 5.21, p< .03 (Figure 2B). This implies that, whereas the therapy group demonstrated most of their improvement in DEM-horizontal in the first half of the year, the non-therapy subjects had an equal amount of improvement occurring in the second half of the year.