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How Sports Vision Training Can Improve a Quarterback’s Game

How Sports Vision Training Can Improve a Quarterbacks Game 640×350Quarterbacks (QBs) work hard to increase their physical strength but often don’t realize that improving their visual skills can also improve their effectiveness on the field.

In addition to having a powerful throwing arm, quarterbacks must be able to precisely judge distances and the speeds of other players. They need to be aware of everyone and everything around them, as well as every player’s specific location and course of movement — all while following the ball.

Visual skills like accurate peripheral vision and split-second reaction time are crucial to a quarterback’s success. Sports vision training provides the foundation for these abilities and allows players to be the best athletes they can be.

Contact Dr. Erik Romsdahl to see how sports vision training can help you improve your game.

Which Visual Skills Can Sports Vision Training Improve?

Here are examples of how a quarterback depends on visual skills.

Eye Focusing

QBs need to be able to sustain sharp focus and to shift their eyes and focus rapidly and precisely to judge the exact position of the tight end as the linebackers close the space.

Depth Perception

The quarterback’s ability to accurately judge the position of his receivers sprinting full speed into the end zone depends on sharp and precise depth perception.

Peripheral Vision

All eyes are on the quarterback in possession of the ball, but it’s just as important for the quarterback to keep track of the defensive players as they attempt a sack. QBs with good peripheral vision can see where all the defenders are at any given time.

Visual Reaction Time

Visual reaction time is the speed with which a quarterback’s brain analyzes and reacts to the opponent’s actions. A QB’s next move will be determined by how quickly and well their brain integrates visual and motor functions.

Gross-Visual Motor Integration

While on the move, a quarterback needs to analyze all of the information the eyes are transmitting, and act on it quickly. This requires a high level of coordination between the QB’s brain, eyes and body. The more the quarterback’s vision and movement are synchronized, the more successful the plays will be.

All of this takes a matter of seconds. With good visual skills, a quarterback can make that play seem flawless.

Enhancing the Performance of a Quarterback

We offer sports vision training to help all kinds of athletes achieve their goals and take their game to the next level. A functional eye exam will evaluate visual skills, after which we can create a personalized sports vision training program.

At Child and Family Vision Center, we help players be the athletes they know they can be. We offer sports vision training to patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, Iowa and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: What is sports vision training?

  • A: Sports vision training is a custom-made program that improves coordination between your brain, eyes and body while playing sports. Through a series of eye exercises and techniques, it helps athletes react faster and more accurately to what they see on the field.

Q: Who can benefit from sports vision training?

  • A: Whether you’re a quarterback or a linebacker, an avid baseball or hockey player, sports vision training is perfect for athletes of any age and ability seeking to improve their sports performance.

Request A Sports Vision Appointment
Call About Sports Vision 515-964-7541

Screen Time Can Lead To Eye Strain And Convergence Insufficiency In Children

Screen Time 640×350Now that a couple of years have passed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have gotten a clearer picture of the impact that online schooling has had on children’s eyes.

Not only have myopia cases increased, but more children are experiencing symptoms of eye strain and convergence insufficiency due to extended screen time.

Below, we explore what eye strain and convergence insufficiency are, and how vision therapy can help counteract the negative effects of online learning.

Symptoms of Digital Eye Strain

Prolonged use of digital devices like computers or smartphones can cause a condition called computer vision syndrome, also known as digital eye strain. This condition affects around 50% of adults and children.

Symptoms of digital eye strain include:

  • Sore eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Headaches

Children who complain of any of these symptoms should have their eyes evaluated by a developmental optometrist to ensure that vision problems aren’t exacerbating their symptoms.

What is Convergence Insufficiency?

Normally, when your eyes focus on a very near object, like a pencil near your nose, they must point slightly inwards to see a unified and clear image.

With convergence insufficiency, the eyes aren’t able to work in unison to point inward. Instead, one eye may point outward when trying to focus on a near object, leading to blurred or double vision.

Children with convergence insufficiency may struggle to perform visually demanding near tasks like reading and homework. In fact, many children who have vision-related learning problems are often misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities.

How Does Screen Time Lead to Eye Strain and Convergence Insufficiency?

Experts at Wills Eye Hospital recently studied the correlation between prolonged screen time and its effects on children’s eyes. They surveyed 110 students aged 10-17 who attended classes online. Prior to the beginning of online sessions, the students all had healthy vision.

The researchers discovered that the number of hours spent in front of a screen directly correlated to the likelihood of developing digital eye strain and convergence insufficiency. More than half of the students experienced symptoms of both visual conditions, with 17% of cases being severe convergence insufficiency.

These important and timely findings should alert parents to the risks that come with online learning, and encourage them to find solutions and take preventative measures to keep their kids’ eyes healthy. Fortunately, that’s where vision therapy comes in.

How Can Vision Therapy Help?

Vision therapy trains the eyes and brain to work together efficiently to resolve a wide range of visual dysfunctions.

Restoring healthy binocular vision is the goal for children with convergence insufficiency, and vision therapy is a primary treatment for accomplishing that.

According to the National Eye Institute, most children with convergence insufficiency experience significant improvement after just 12 weeks of vision therapy.

Vision therapy can also be effective for treating symptoms of digital eye strain in children. According to the Optometrists Network, a free and extensive online library for eye care, vision therapy can relieve symptoms of digital eye strain by strengthening the visual system.

To learn more about the benefits of vision therapy or to schedule your child’s functional visual evaluation, contact Child and Family Vision Center today!

Child and Family Vision Center offers vision therapy to patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, Iowa and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: What is a functional vision evaluation?

  • A: A functional visual evaluation assesses a multitude of visual skills that normally aren’t tested in standard eye exams or vision screenings. Some examples of those visual skills include convergence, eye tracking and teaming, visual processing, eye movement, focusing, eye alignment and accommodation flexibility.

Q: Who is a candidate for vision therapy?

  • A: Children and adults who have varying degrees of visual dysfunction are ideal candidates for vision therapy. Many patients may not be aware of problems with their visual systems but suffer from symptoms like headaches or dizziness, which may be rooted in their vision. Children with learning problems or any visual symptoms may benefit from a customized vision therapy program.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 515-964-7541

Long-Term Risks of Repeated Head Impacts Among Athletes

Long Term Risks of Repeated Head Impacts Among Athletes 640×350If you’ve ever had a concussion or any other type of brain injury, you likely experienced at least some of the symptoms caused by head impacts: headaches, difficulty concentrating, problems with balance, visual problems and even anger management issues.

A single concussion is bad enough, but multiple studies published in National Academies Press (2014) revealed that experiencing as little as two concussions can sometimes lead to serious life-long problems.

Unfortunately, head hits that occur while playing contact sports are common, and the health repercussions of these impacts can be severe.

Here are six long-term risks of multiple concussions and repetitive head impacts:

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

CTE is a degenerative brain disease that affects athletes, military veterans and anyone who has experienced repeated brain trauma. Specific proteins (called tau proteins) form clumps in the brain of those with CTE, and these clumps eventually spread throughout the brain, permanently damaging and causing the death of brain cells. Progressive memory and cognition loss, depression, suicidal ideation, poor impulse control, aggression, Parkinsonism, and dementia are among the clinical indications of CTE.

Two case reports published in Neurosurgery involving two National Football League (NFL) players were the first to use the phrase. After long careers playing football in high school, college and professionally, these players suffered from a variety of neuropsychological symptoms.

Evidence suggests that CTE is caused by repeated head blows over a period of years, according to Clinics in Sports Medicine (2011). It’s crucial to understand that you don’t have to have a full-fledged concussion to develop this disease.

Depression

Depression is a mental disorder that affects one’s feelings, thoughts and actions. It can limit a person’s ability to perform at work, at school and at home. Loss of interest in previously loved hobbies, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances and thoughts of death or suicide are all possible symptoms.

Research published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (2007) discovered a growing linear association between concussion history and being diagnosed with long-term depression. Retired athletes who had three or more concussions were three times more likely than those who had never had a concussion to be diagnosed with depression. Those who had one or two previous concussions had 1.5 times the chance of being diagnosed with depression.

Dementia Pugilistica

Dementia pugilistica, sometimes known as ‘punch-drunk condition,’ is a neurological disease that affects people who have experienced many concussions. The term ‘pugil’ comes from Latin and means ‘boxer’ or ‘fighter.’ The condition was initially diagnosed in boxers in the 1920s. Tremors, sluggish movement, speech difficulties, disorientation, a lack of coordination and memory loss are all prominent symptoms of this disease.

Dementia pugilistica is a kind of CTE that has some microscopic histological characteristics in common with Alzheimer’s disease. While it was first discovered in boxers who were subjected to repeated head hits in a 1973 study published in Psychological Medicine, athletes in other sports may be affected as well.

Neurocognitive Impairments

A concussion’s signs and symptoms can often affect one’s cognitive abilities, resulting in the inability to concentrate, disorientation, irritation and loss of balance. When you have more than one traumatic brain injury in your life, you may be more likely to experience long-term, possibly progressive, disability that impairs your ability to function.

According to the National Academies Press (2014), studies show that recurrent head impacts in football and hockey players cause abnormalities in cognitive function in the brain. In one study, researchers discovered that the impacted athletes had neurocognitive abnormalities in both working and visual memory. In another study, affected football players were found to have problems with impulse control and balance after the sports season concluded.

Slower Neurological Recovery

Despite the fact that millions of people suffer concussions each year, the risks of a prolonged neurological recovery after multiple concussions are still largely unknown. Nonetheless, according to a study published by the National Academies Press in 2014, a history of many concussions may be linked to a longer recovery of brain function after another concussion. According to the findings, repeated concussions may result in lifelong neurocognitive impaieyerment.

This is why it’s crucial to refrain from engaging in any sports or dangerous activities until you’ve fully recovered from a head impact.

Brain Injury and Your Vision

Head trauma and concussions can have major effects on the visual system, despite normal medical imaging results. The group symptoms causing blurred vision, eye coordination issues and dizziness following head trauma is called post-trauma vision syndrome.

Even mild concussions can cause visual dysfunction, such as double vision, accommodative dysfunction, convergence insufficiency, sensitivity to light, eye tracking problems and delayed visual processing.

How Can A Neuro-Optometrist Help?

Neuro-optometry is a branch of optometry that focuses on helping individuals with neurological disorders regain their visual and oculomotor skills. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy aims to improve a patient’s ability to function independently in a multisensory environment.

At Child and Family Vision Center, we know all too well the challenges that accompany repeated head impacts. To schedule a functional vision evaluation and determine if there is a problem with your visual system, call Child and Family Vision Center today.

Child and Family Vision Center offers neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy to patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant and Polk City, Iowa and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: What is a concussion?

  • A: A concussion is a type of brain injury in which a blow to the head causes a momentary loss of brain function. When a person’s brain is violently moved back and forth or twisted inside the skull due to a direct or indirect force, an injury occurs. A concussion causes disruption in brain function and should be treated as a serious injury. Following a concussion, proper healing and recovery time are critical in preventing additional injury.

Q: What does a neuro-optometrist do?

  • A: A neuro-optometrist can assess functional binocularity, spatial vision and visual processing abilities, as well as functional binocularity and visual processing abilities. Following diagnosis, a comprehensive management program will be prescribed. Neuro-optometrists can also diagnose general eye health problems and correct refractive errors with glasses or contact lenses to increase visual acuity.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 515-964-7541

Why Goalkeepers Need Strong Visual Skills

Why Goalkeepers Need Strong Visual Skills 640×350Sports require athletes to be in peak physical condition to play at their best. This doesn’t just include arms and legs, but eyes too. This is especially true for goalkeepers, who need lightning-fast reflexes and incredibly accurate vision skills to guard the goal and catch or deflect the puck or ball and prevent that scoring shot.

Our eye care professionals at Child and Family Vision Center can help goalies and other athletes, both amateur and pro, improve their functional vision with sports vision training.

What Visual Skills Does a Goalkeeper Need?

Goalies need to master a range of visual skills in order to prevent the opposing team from scoring. Convergence and divergence, as well as the ability to alternate between them quickly and accurately, are among the most important.

Convergence

Convergence is the eyes’ ability to efficiently and accurately focus on an object as it moves toward you, and up close. Professional soccer players send the ball flying at the net at an average of 70 miles per hour, and a hockey puck in the NHL can be slapped at the goal at a blistering 100 miles per hour. This means that for penalty shots and other fast-moving, close-up plays a goalkeeper’s eyes can have mere fractions of a second to accurately converge on the ball or puck before the goalkeeper needs to decide where to move their body and how to react.

Poor convergence can mean that the goalie’s eyes are too slow to converge on the target, or that they don’t converge accurately, leading to double vision as the ball or puck is incoming.

Either of these situations can make it difficult, if not impossible, to make the save during a fast-paced play.

Divergence

Divergence is the eyes’ ability to efficiently and accurately focus on objects at a distance, and as they move away. This skill is vital for goalkeepers, who need to save shots taken from halfway down the field or ice, and to accurately judge the position and flight of the ball or puck. Divergence also allows the goalkeeper to track shots that rebound out, as well as the movements of the puck or ball in case the opposing team quickly takes another shot.

Poor divergence makes it challenging for the goalie to find or track the target from farther out, or as it moves away from them, from close range into the distance.

Alternating

Being able to efficiently alternate between convergence and divergence is also vital in a fast-moving game. Consider the following play-by-play:

  • Using divergence, a goalkeeper can track a ball or puck from far down the field or ice, until a shot is taken.
  • As the shot comes closer in, they engage their convergence to track it moving toward them.
  • They make a successful save, resulting in a rebound out. Divergence is engaged as the ball or puck moves away from them once again.
  • Within fractions of a second, an opposing player may recover the puck or ball, and attempt another shot. The shot is incoming again, and convergence is re-engaged.

The goalkeeper has only seconds or even fractions of a second to respond, re-focus, and respond again.

How Can Sports Vision Training Help?

Sports vision training is a personalized regimen of eye exercises prescribed by eye doctors to help athletes perfect the visual skills that are most essential for their sport.

Working through the prescribed exercises retrains the athlete’s brain to work faster and more effectively with their eyes, improving convergence, divergence and other visual-motor and spatial skills.

Sports vision training can help goalkeepers of all ages and abilities gain the visual skills they need to stay on top of their game, block shots and save the day.

Have questions about how we can help you play your best game? Visit us or call our office today.

Child and Family Vision Center offers sports vision training to patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, Iowa and surrounding communities.

Request A Sports Vision Appointment
Call About Sports Vision 515-964-7541

4 Reasons Why Your Child May Be Refusing to Read

4 Reasons Why Your Child May Be Refusing to Read 640×350Reading involves the simultaneous coordination of a number of basic visual skills. For children who have not yet mastered some of these skills, reading can be an exercise in frustration, leading them to avoid reading altogether.

While many of us take our eyes’ ability to converge, focus and track for granted, those with underdeveloped visual skills often struggle to keep track of where they are on the page and to fully understand and remember what they’ve just read.

We’ve outlined four of the top vision-related reasons why children refuse to read, and how vision therapy can help your child become a more confident reader.

1. Eye Tracking Problems

Eye tracking is the eyes’ ability to move smoothly and accurately from place to place. Good eye tracking skills allow a child to keep their eyes on an incoming baseball or move successfully from word to word on a page of text without losing their place.

For a child with eye-tracking issues, eye movements will be slow and inaccurate, often seen as eye flickering or requiring extra head movements, to compensate for the reduced visual skill.

Poor eye tracking can cause a child to frequently lose their spot and skip words or even whole lines of text while reading. In this case, the child uses a lot more energy than their peers to simply keep track of where they are on the page, causing difficulty with reading comprehension and fluency.

2. Difficulties With Eye Teaming

Eye teaming is the eyes’ ability to work together to send accurate visual information to the brain. Although each eye sends a slightly different image, the brain is able to combine these two images into a single picture, allowing for three-dimensional vision and depth perception.

When children have problems with eye teaming, their eyes are unable to work together. They send two very distinct images to the brain, which struggles to easily combine the two images into a single clear, cohesive image.

A child attempting to read with eye teaming issues may experience eye strain, headaches or even double vision. Often, words on a page will look blurry or appear to ‘float’ on the page. Eye teaming difficulties may also cause the child to have a reduced attention span, and lead them to avoid reading or not read at grade level.

3. [Visualization] Problems

Visualization refers to the ability to see something in the mind’s eye even if that thing is not right there in front of us. This skill allows a child to recall words and remember how to spell words that they’ve previously seen. [Visualization] allows many of us to read a story and then ‘see’ the characters and events play through our mind as if we are watching a film.

For some children, however, this doesn’t happen. The brain has a hard time taking the visual information it’s receiving from the eyes and interpreting it into larger images and concepts. This can result in poor reading comprehension and may render that reading is a chore and an unenjoyable experience.

4. Issues with Accommodation

Accommodation is the ability to refocus the eyes each time we shift our gaze from one image or object to the next. This happens as a result of the swift and accurate contraction and relaxation of muscles in the eye to quickly focus and refocus as the eye moves.

In children with accommodation problems, the focusing muscles in the eyes do not smoothly contract and relax efficiently as their eyes move across the page from word to word or from a book (or screen) to the board and back. They need to stop and refocus their vision every time they read another word. This stop-and-start type of reading harms reading comprehension, and the constant need to refocus can cause headaches and eye strain.

So What’s The Solution?

All of the problems mentioned above are due to reduced visual skills and can be frustrating for children and parents alike. Fortunately, there is a solution: vision therapy.

Vision therapy is a personalized, doctor-prescribed evidence-based regimen of in-office and at-home eye exercises to teach your child’s eyes and brain to more effectively work together. Depending on your child’s needs, the customized program may include vision therapy aids such as prism glasses, devices and specialized therapy computer programs.

Contact Child and Family Vision Center to help your child get back on track with their reading and learning.

Child and Family Vision Center offers vision therapy to patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, Iowa and surrounding communities.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 515-964-7541

How Concussions Can Affect Self-Esteem

How Concussions Can Affect Self Esteem 640X350When you consider the abundant functions of the brain, it’s no surprise that even slight damage to its sensitive tissues can wreak havoc on one’s physical and mental health. Many people experience some degree of emotional distress after suffering a head injury. But how can you tell if your symptoms are serious?

If you or a loved one has ever experienced a concussion, we urge you to learn more about the emotional and physical side effects it may bring, and discover how a neuro-optometrist can help.

What Occurs During a Concussion?

The nerves of the brain are surrounded by soft and fatty tissues, and these fragile nerves are further protected by a layer of fluid and the bony skull. During a sudden and forceful jolt or bump to the head or neck region, such as whiplash, the brain continues to move while the head has stopped moving. This causes the brain to slam into the inner walls of the skull or be shaken back and forth, resulting in a concussion.

This mild form of traumatic brain injury can damage or destroy brain cells, and may also negatively impact the healthy protective tissues surrounding the damaged cells.

Although concussions are considered ‘mild’ because they aren’t life-threatening, they can cause debilitating symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, blurred vision, balance problems, confusion and emotional distress, among others.

The Link Between Concussions and Self-Esteem

A concussion can negatively affect emotional well-being and self-esteem, both directly and indirectly.

A post-concussion patient may find it difficult to do the things they once enjoyed, like exercising, reading, doing schoolwork or even watching TV. Withdrawing from these activities, even temporarily, may result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and reduced self-worth. When you can’t read, concentrate or complete day-to-day activities as you once did, your limitations can become your main focus.

Concussions can also directly damage areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, directly affecting how a person relates to themselves and others.

A study published in Brain Injury (2014) concluded that a person’s self-concept may be impacted following a concussion/traumatic brain injury and that patients should seek treatment for emotional distress following a head injury.

Signs of Lowered Self-Esteem

Because each brain is unique, it’s hard to tell how a concussion will affect the patient, both in the short and long term. Here are a few signs that may reveal emotional distress and reduced self-esteem following a concussion:

  • Withdrawal from social events
  • Avoiding activities that were once enjoyable
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feeling unloved or unwanted
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Negative self-talk
  • Neglecting personal hygiene or appearance
  • Inability to accept compliments
  • Feelings of shame, depression or anxiety

If you or a loved one displays any of the above symptoms, rest assured that help is available.

How We Help Post-Concussion Patients

Recovering from a concussion can be difficult, but neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy can help by improving the neural communication between the eyes and the brain and how an injured brain processes visual information.

Concussions can significantly affect the eye-brain connections, resulting in symptoms like dizziness, inability to concentrate, light sensitivity and headaches, as well as emotional distress.

A neuro-optometrist can improve the functioning of the visual system in ways that other professionals aren’t trained to, thereby reducing — even eliminating — these debilitating symptoms.

By training the brain and eyes to efficiently work in unison, visual skills will improve and you’ll find it easier to do things like reading, watching TV, using a computer and concentrating without taking as many breaks.

If you or a loved one has ever sustained a concussion, a functional vision evaluation may be called for to rule out visual dysfunction. Even if you’ve been told that nothing can be done by other health care professionals, we may be able to help, even years after the injury.

Let us help you get back to doing the things you love. To schedule a functional visual evaluation, call Child and Family Vision Center today.

Child and Family Vision Center offers neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy to patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, Iowa and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: What other conditions can neuro-optometry treat?

  • A: Neuro-optometrists help patients who’ve survived a stroke, sustained varying degrees of brain injury or have a neurological condition that impedes visual function. All of these conditions can adversely impact visual skills and may cause symptoms that hinder independent functioning and reduce one’s quality of life. By rehabilitating the visual system, a neuro-optometrist can provide relief and promote a greater degree of recovery to these patients.

Q: Do all optometrists provide neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy?

  • A: No. A neuro-optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry with specialized training in the area of visual system rehabilitation. A general optometrist performs eye exams, diagnoses and manages eye diseases and prescribes corrective lenses to patients. General optometrists do not have the training or experience to perform neuro-optometric rehabilitation therapy.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
How Can We Help You? 515-964-7541

What it Takes to Succeed as a Formula 1 Driver

What it Takes to Succeed as a Formula 1 Driver 640×350During a 90-minute race, a Formula 1 driver’s body meets many challenges. Controlling a vehicle that may reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour requires not only the highest level of fitness but also the ability to react — literally — in the blink of an eye.

Without top-notch visual skills, drivers aren’t able to respond effectively to the constantly changing conditions on the race track. Sports vision training can help race car drivers and other athletes hone their visual skills to improve their performance.

What is Sports Vision Training?

Sports vision training is a tailored program that enhances neural communication between your eyes, brain, and body, and is specifically tailored to your specific activity. Athletes who receive sports vision training can absorb information faster and react more precisely to what they see on the field or track.

The training entails a specific set of strategies and exercises that teach the brain and body to respond to the environment around them more quickly and effectively. Visual skills such as hand-eye coordination, depth perception, dynamic visual acuity and peripheral awareness are all [emphasized] during the training.

Visional Skills Needed for F1 Drivers

F1 drivers need to have excellent peripheral vision and reaction time to succeed on the race track.

Peripheral Vision

Peripheral vision is the ability to see things where you are not directly looking, but can see “out of the corner of your eye.” Well-developed peripheral awareness enables drivers to see other cars or obstacles at the edge of their visual field and to process the race’s rapidly shifting dynamics.

Reaction Time

When it comes to racing at high speeds, every second counts. Even a slight lag in reaction time can be disastrous.

The reaction speed of F1 drivers is typically 3x faster than that of other individuals.

Sports vision training exercises hone the brain’s ability to respond to visual stimuli, and to transmit the necessary information the body needs to respond. Speeding up their brain’s synaptic reaction time allows drivers to pivot more quickly on the racetrack in the face of unexpected situations.

Exercises for Peripheral Awareness and Reaction Time

To improve peripheral awareness, drivers use many different exercises and tools. Here are two that we recommend.

Lightboard Exercise

A lightboard is a device that flashes a succession of lights, powered by electricity. Touch receptors are incorporated into many of them, providing an element of engagement that can improve the driver’s peripheral awareness and reaction time.

Here’s how it works: A person stands in front of the board and concentrates on a single location. Then, in their side view (peripheral vision) lights flash in random positions. The patient is required to recognize and then rapidly and efficiently touch those lights.

Seeing such lights can help drivers boost their ability to process information and make quick decisions. Simply touching the lights can significantly boost their hand-eye coordination.

Tennis Ball Drill

A basic tennis ball drill is an easy way to increase reaction times. Drivers face a wall and position themselves close to it. Then, from behind them, an instructor or a training partner tosses balls at the wall.

The task of the driver is to respond quickly and collect the ball as it bounces off the wall. The unpredictable nature of this practice keeps their minds sharp. Because of their near proximity to the wall, they must rely on their fast reaction speed and peripheral vision to succeed.

Becoming an F1 driver isn’t just about improving speed on the track. It’s about training the mind, body and eyes to work together as a team. Contact Child and Family Vision Center to learn more about sports vision training and become the driver you wish to be.

Child and Family Vision Center serves patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, Iowa and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: Why is sports vision so important for athletes?

  • A: Athletes with excellent visual skills have an advantage in their field. Sports requiring great eye teaming, depth perception, and concentration skills include motor racing, skiing, football, basketball, hockey, baseball, tennis and soccer. In some sports, focusing, judging distances and tracking moving objects might mean the difference between life and death on the field or race track.

Q: Who can benefit from sports vision training?

  • A: Sports vision training is intended for athletes of all ages and abilities, including youth and adult athletes, no matter the sport they participate in.

Request A Sports Vision Appointment
Call About Sports Vision 515-964-7541

Can Vision Therapy Help Those With Autism?

Can Vision Therapy Help Those With Autism 640×350Visual problems in autistic children commonly go undetected and untreated. Often mistaken for symptoms of autism, visual problems can make it much more difficult for individuals with autism to process what they are seeing.

In a 2019 review of eye clinic records, the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus found that many autistic children have undetected vision problems.

“Among 2,555 children at a university autism clinic, about 11% had significant vision disorders, including strabismus (eye misalignment) and amblyopia, in which poor vision in one or both eyes results from abnormal early visual development,” the researchers said.

Vision Problems and Autistic Behaviors

Though many of the following autistic behaviors may appear to be unrelated to vision impairment, in reality, a high number of them are due to poor vision or visual skills.

  • Light sensitivity
  • Amblyopia/lazy eye
  • Lack of reciprocal play
  • Eye alignment (eye turns)
  • Common eye-rolling
  • Looking through/beyond objects
  • Difficulty accurately tracking moving objects
  • Inability to maintain eye contact with people
  • Visual stimming (flapping fingers in front of eyes)
  • Looking at objects from the side of the eyes
  • Extreme fear or absence of fear of heights

Vision Therapy for Children with Autism

Vision therapy is a proven treatment that strengthens the neurological connections between the brain and eyes to improve visual abilities.

A vision therapy program for an autistic child will help them improve visual processing, which in turn, will help them better understand their surroundings and improve associated behaviors, like anxiety.

Each vision therapy program is tailored to the child’s specific needs and includes age-appropriate exercises and activities.

Vision therapy tends to focus on improving the following skills in autistic kids:

  • Central vision
  • Peripheral stability
  • Efficient eye coordination
  • Visual-spatial organization
  • Visual information processing

Yoked or ambient prisms

Vision problems, particularly visual-spatial misperceptions such as bodies/objects/people moving in space, can make an autistic child feel frightened, confused or distressed, leading to certain behavioral responses like poor eye contact or looking beyond an object.

Yoked or ambient prism lenses assist autistic children in making better use of their vision. Prisms can enhance posture, balance, and attention almost immediately, thus considerably boosting the child’s sense of physical safety and comfort while reducing anxiety and sensory overload.

Prism lenses can be worn on a daily basis or for the duration of a vision therapy program, which generally leads to significant improvements.

The purpose of vision therapy is to make ordinary tasks easier to complete and reduce the challenges that both you and your autistic child confront on a daily basis.

Please note that vision therapy should be a part of an interdisciplinary strategy aimed at improving a patient’s capacity to function and enhance their quality of life.

Child and Family Vision Center serves patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, Iowa and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: How long does vision therapy take to work?

  • A: Although it varies from person to person, most children will see a difference within the first 10 weeks. Adult vision therapy takes a little longer because adult brains are less flexible than children’s brains.

Q: What is vision therapy?

  • A: Vision therapy is a specific program that involves a series of progressive therapeutic eye exercises that help patients improve their visual abilities. Their visual abilities improve as their eyes and brain communicate more effectively. It’s a one-of-a-kind, treatment program that’s usually combined with vision correction (glasses or contacts, such as in the case of myopia or presbyopia).

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What’s the Link Between Vision Therapy and Self-Confidence?

Whats the Link Between Vision Therapy and Self Confidence 640×350When most people think of vision, they think of how well a person can see up close or from afar. Many schools perform a simple vision screening to identify students who may be having difficulty seeing the board in the classroom.

Unfortunately, these vision screenings don’t evaluate a child’s functional vision, which comprises all of the fundamental visual skills required for learning.

As a result, many children with inadequate vision skills go undiagnosed and end up struggling in school and on the sports field. Often, these children are considered clumsy and sluggish and tend to be misdiagnosed and labeled as having a learning disability, dyslexia or ADHD.

Improving visual skills enables many of these students to read more effortlessly, boost grades and improve athletic performance.

Visual skills can be learned and retrained with vision therapy, particularly during childhood and adolescence, when the brain is still developing.

What Is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is a specialized treatment program that aims to enhance visual processing by developing and/or improving the communication between the eyes and the brain. The training is typically made up of specialized lenses, prisms, and eye exercises.

The following eye conditions can be effectively treated with vision therapy:

  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Strabismus (eye turns)
  • Convergence insufficiency
  • Eye movement problems
  • Binocular vision problems
  • Accommodative/focusing disorders
  • Visual processing difficulties
  • Visual disturbances from a brain injury

Vision Therapy Can Boost Your Child’s Confidence

Children who endure difficulty in school or on the sports field in reaction to subpar visual skills tend to feel frustrated that they cannot perform like their peers. This, in turn, affects their confidence levels and may lead them to exhibit behavioral issues and thwart their ability to make friends.

Vision therapy has been shown to transform lives. Children who previously struggled to read or catch a ball due to a deficit in visual skills usually see a significant improvement in their abilities and results in increased self-confidence and competence.

Vision therapy can help a child become a better student and achieve his or her academic goals. Moreover, vision therapy can be indispensable when preparing for higher education, since accomplishments can lead to a greater belief in one’s own talents and abilities. This newfound self-assurance will undoubtedly spill over into other areas, improving the child’s quality of life.


Don’t let your child’s visual dysfunction prevent them from experiencing self-confidence and self-assurance. Contact Child and Family Vision Center to learn how vision therapy can unlock your child’s hidden potential.

Child and Family Vision Center provides vision therapy and other services to patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, Polk City, and throughout Iowa.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl

Q: How long does a vision therapy program last?

  • A: Since each case differs based on the nature and severity of the visual condition, there is no defined time limit. Patients can observe progress after just a few sessions, but treatment might last for several months. In general, once a child has completed a vision therapy program, the effects are permanent.

Q: How young can a child start vision therapy?

  • A: Children as young as 5-6 years old can begin vision therapy, but formal in-office sessions are recommended for children aged 7 and up since they are better able to follow instructions.

 

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How Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Vision?

How Can Lyme Disease Affect Your Vision 640Lyme disease is an infection caused by a tick bite infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, the bacteria is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks.

Lyme disease initially affects the skin near the bite site. However, if left untreated, the infection can extend to the nervous system, joints and other organ systems.

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease symptoms usually include a rash at the site of the bite that looks like a bull’s eye. Further symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen glands

As the disease progresses, one may develop memory loss, attention problems and numbness in the hands, feet and arms.

How Does Lyme Disease Affect Vision?

Lyme disease is typically divided into three stages: early localized, early disseminated and late disseminated. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), Lyme disease can affect the eyes at any stage.

The severity of ocular problems may vary greatly. Different symptoms appear at different phases of the infection. The following are examples of possible Lyme disease eye complications:

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, often known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the white part of the eye known as the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis usually appears within the first several weeks of the infection. According to the AAO, conjunctivitis affects roughly 10% of Lyme disease patients. Symptoms include red eyes, itchy eyes and discharge.

Light Sensitivity

For some, light sensitivity is a side effect of Lyme disease. Light sensitivity can also be an adverse effect of several antibiotics used to treat Lyme disease.

Inflammation

Lyme disease patients might potentially develop inflammation of the eye structures. Eye inflammation commonly appears in the third or late stages of the disease. Inflammation of the optic nerve can cause vision loss. Optic neuritis symptoms include eye pain, color vision loss, and flashing lights.

Inflammation of the retinal vessels can also cause impaired vision and floaters. Bell’s palsy-like symptoms might arise if the facial nerves become inflamed. Symptoms may make it difficult to close the eye, causing the cornea to become dry and potentially infected.

Visual Treatment of Lyme Disease

Medical treatment for Lyme disease doesn’t always address Lyme-related visual problems, and without treatment, vision may still be impaired long after medical treatment is completed.

Any inflammation in the body can negatively affect the functioning of the limbs and organs. This is especially true for the brain and the visual system, which are often affected by Lyme disease.

That’s where neuro-optometry can help.

Neuro-optometry evaluates how our eyes and brain function together. When Lyme disease affects that connection, a patient’s balance may be affected, causing their vision and depth perception to be affected as well.

A neuro-optometrist may utilize lenses, prisms and, in some situations, neuro-visual therapy. Neuro-visual therapy is a rehab program for those who have had a neurological incident that has affected their vision and its functioning/processing.

This is especially true in the case of children. Lyme disease can disrupt important developmental cycles, resulting in visual problems and the likelihood of developmental delays and learning difficulties.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, contact Child and Family Vision Center, to learn whether it has affected your vision.

Child and Family Vision Center serves patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, Iowa and surrounding communities.

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How Can We Help You? 515-964-7541