What is Mercy’s Vision Program?
The Vision Program is a method of therapy to train the eye muscles and brain to work more efficiently. Mercy’s Vision Program is provided by occupational therapists, in conjunction with behavioral optometrists from Northern Minnesota Eye Care, who have received extensive training in improving the mechanics of the visual system and how the brain processes, decodes and stores visual information. Specifically, the Vision Program can help to develop or improve visual skills, visual comfort, ease and efficiency, and change how a person processes or interprets visual information.
Who would benefit from the Vision Program?
People with a variety of conditions may benefit from the Vision Program. These include:
Difficulty learning in school: Conditions such as poor eye teaming, focusing, tracking, and visualization skills can all negatively affect learning.
If your child has these conditions, they may report:
- Losing place while reading
- Skipping lines of text
- Movement of text or pictures on a page, etc.
Visual rehabilitation for injury or illness: A neurological disorder or trauma can affect a person’s vision. This includes concussion, traumatic brain injuries, strokes, developmental delays, and other neurological ailments.
What does therapy involve?
Once the patient has been evaluated and determined appropriate for the Vision Program, the occupational therapist and optometrist collaborate to develop a treatment plan. Patients are typically seen in office once per week for a period of 45 minutes to 1 hour by the occupational therapist. During these office visits, the patient can expect to participate a variety of exercises to build strength and skills to support the visual system. The patient will be provided with exercises to practice at home.
How is this service accessed?
Visual processing or developmental vision problems are difficult to detect unless tested by an optometrist and occupational therapist. An optometrist may not incorporate these specific tests unless symptoms are present or reported by the patient. When symptoms are present, optometrists may conduct more extensive tests or recommend a binocular vision exam.
A binocular vision exam assesses the many visual skills necessary for good vision to determine if a problem exists. When a vision problem is diagnosed, they may recommend an evaluation by an occupational therapist to assess visual processing. A binocular vision exam generally takes 60-90 minutes and includes a series of tests testing fixation, tracking, accommodation and eye teaming. A visual processing exam tests how the brain processes visual information, including skills such as visual memory, visual spatial skills, visual motor integration, reading comprehension, and sequential memory.
For more information
For more information about this program, contact Mercy at 218.485.5597 or Northern Minnesota Eye Care at 218.485.8495 (Moose Lake) or 320.384.6361 (Hinckley).
Mercy occupational therapists involved in the Vision Program include April Hansen, MS, OTR/L, Heidi Cavagnetto, OTR/L, and Claire Rosen, OTR/L.