Should you find that you or your child has difficulty seeing far away or up close, then logically you will think that you need to have an eye exam to determine whether glasses are necessary.

However, when should you consider having an eye exam to determine if vision therapy would be beneficial? When you or your child have difficulty performing near tasks such as reading or difficulty with sports, these are the times when you should consider having a functional eye examination.

What happens in a functional eye exam?

In a functional eye exam, a functional or behavioral optometrist will look at both aspects of the visual system, the eyes (the hardware) and the brain (the software). The hardware of your visual system is what is normally looked at during a comprehensive eye exam this includes, ensuring that you have the correct glasses prescription, and that your eyes are healthy. During a functional eye exam the optometrist will look at all the components of a person's vision to see what is causing the functional difficulties, they'll examine the software of the visual system which includes tracking of the eyes, focusing and accommodating ability, and eye teaming.

Who needs a functional eye exam?

When a person has difficulty with eye teaming, tracking of the eyes, focusing and accommodating ability, they might experience symptoms such as eye strain or pain while reading or working on a computer, especially for extended periods of time. Words may appear as if they are swimming on the page, and you may experience double vision, headaches, and blurred vision. Often, poor tracking skills can result in difficulties such as losing placement, reading, skipping over words or lines, and word substitution. Some of the lesser known symptoms are difficulty in sports, which may indicate trouble with binocular vision, and subsequently eye-hand coordination and depth perception. A child with academic difficulty does not seem to be maximizing their potential in the classroom, especially in subjects related to reading.

In the event that you or your child is having difficulty in any of these areas, or is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, a functional vision exam would be helpful to determine whether you or your child is a candidate for vision therapy.

What you can expect from vision therapy?

A vision therapist will be assigned to your child after a care plan has been established and visual dysfunctions identified. They will supervise the therapy of exercises intended to improve your child's visual function. The length of vision therapy is tailored to the specific visual needs and progress of the patient, but in most cases will be between 20 to 40 sessions, depending on what skills are in need of therapy. Each session usually lasts 45 minutes and is combined with at home exercises. At our office in Hixson (just outside of Chattanooga) we specialize in functional vision, and have extensive experience working with children, special needs, stroke patients, and post traumatic brain injury/concussion patients. We have seen incredible results with patients of all ages who have experienced functional vision problems, and after going through vision therapy have seen dramatic improvements to their vision and quality of life.

Schedule with eye doctors for a functional eye exam at our state-of-the-art optometry clinic in Hixson, drawing patients from the neighboring areas of Chattanooga, Cleveland, and Middle Valley. Call (423) 321-8233 or fill out this form to make an appointment today.
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