The visual process is commonly affected following an acquired brain injury (concussion, trauma, stroke, etc) or as part of a neurological condition (Parkinson's Disease, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, etc). Changes to the visual system can result in blurred vision, double vision, discomfort, headaches, poor depth perception, balance difficulties, changes in peripheral (side) vision and limited ability to perform visual tasks throughout the day (reading, driving, computer use, etc). Early diagnosis and treatment of these vision conditions is a critical component of overall recovery. Lingering vision conditions impede rehabilitation therapies (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc) as well as prolong the return to normal daily activities.

A Neuro-Optometric Assessment with Advanced Vision Therapy Center is specifically designed to assess neurological changes to the visual system. Several areas of visual performance are evaluated using age-standardized tests. This allows the doctor to identify visual system deficits and prescribe a treatment plan specific to the individual. Visual system deficits impede rehabilitative therapies and overall recovery. That's why it is important that the results of the Neuro-Optometric Assessment be shared with the rehabilitation team (physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, etc). A collaborative, multi-disciplinary team approach to care is an important part of the patient's recovery plan.

Who Should Have a Neuro-Optometric Assessment?

A Neuro-Optometric Assessment is recommended for anyone who has experienced an acquired brain injury (concussion, trauma, stroke, etc). The visual system and visual performance are affected in the majority of brain injury cases. It is important to note that not all changes result in blurred vision. For this reason, it is important to have a Neuro-Optometric Assessment even if vision seems to be clear following a brain injury.

A Neuro-Optometric Assessment is also recommended for anyone with a neuro-degenerative condition. Vision deficits can occur suddenly or progress gradually over time. Slowly progressive vision conditions can be difficult for the patient to identify as they adapt to their degrading vision over time. Because of this, patients with neuro-degenerative conditions are often unaware of changes to their vision. A Neuro-Optometric Assessment is not only beneficial to identify current visual limitations, but also serves as an important baseline measure to monitor future progression.

Keep in mind that not all vision conditions cause blurred vision. There are a number of symptoms that result from vision changes secondary to neurological conditions. It is especially important that a Neuro-Optometric Vision Assessment be performed for individuals experiencing the following signs and symptoms:

  • Fluctuating vision
  • Increasing difficulties wearing pre-injury glasses or contacts
  • Double vision (even intermittent)
  • Eye strain, discomfort or soreness
  • Headaches after visual tasks
  • Visual fatigue
  • Balance difficulties
  • Avoidance of visual tasks (such as reading, computer work)
  • Covering or closing one eye (especially while reading)
  • Frequent blinking or squinting
  • Abnormal posture during near tasks (tilting or turning the head, leaning very close to the page, constant moving and re-positioning while working)
  • Reading difficulties (skipping lines, loss of place, difficulties with fluency or comprehension)
  • Difficulties identifying visual information to the sides (trouble with peripheral vision)
  • Difficulties with scanning visual environment (required for safe driving)
  • Prolonged processing speed with visual tasks (difficulties making timely decisions)

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Why Have a Neuro-Optometric Assessment?

A Neuro-Optometric Assessment is crucial for identification of vision conditions that are unlikely to be identified by other members of the care team or during a routine eye examination. Early identification of vision problems allows for early intervention. Undiagnosed vision problems can impede overall recovery or prevent the return to previous activities. Keep in mind that vision is our dominant sense. Vision dysfunction can limit success with many activities of daily living; including driving, reading, hobbies, or returning to work. Vision also plays a central roll with balance (visual-vestibular process) and eye-hand coordination (visual-motor integration). Anyone participating in vestibular therapy or occupational therapy after an acquired brain injury should have a Neuro-Optometric Assessment as part of early rehabilitative efforts to ensure the greatest success.

Fortunately, many of the vision conditions that result from an acquired brain injury can be improved with proper treatment. A Neuro-Optometric Assessment allows the doctor to identify vision system deficits and then prescribe a targeted treatment plan. Treatment for post-trauma vision changes can include task specific eyeglass prescriptions to improve visual comfort and performance, or active rehabilitation in the form of Neuro-Optometric Vision Rehabilitation. A Neuro-Optometric Assessment is the first step to visual recovery.

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What is Tested During a Neuro-Optometric Assessment?

A Neuro-Optometric Assessment consists of testing specific to post-trauma vision changes. It is important to note that these types of tests are not included in a typical routine eye exam. For this reason, an eye examination with a primary eye care provider does not replace a Neuro-Optometric Assessment to identify and accurately diagnosis post-trauma vision changes.

Our team evaluates several aspects of visual function during a Neuro-Optometric Assessment using age-standardized testing. The visual skills tested are used throughout each day to efficiently take in and interpret visual information. Skills tested include:

Accommodation (Eye Focusing)
While seeing clearly is important, it is equally important to keep things clear. Accommodation, or eye focusing, allows an athlete to keep the game in focus. The strength, speed and accuracy of accommodation are especially important when viewing objects moving at high speeds (such as a ball or puck) or when scanning the field of play.
Depth Perception (3D)
Often called “3D vision”, depth perception is dependent on the ability to use both eyes together in a very precise manner. Depth perception is important in every sport. Precise depth perception allows you to identify the exact location of an object (for example a ball) so that you can hit, kick or catch it. Depth perception also tells that athlete where they are in space, which is especially important when in motion.
Fusion is the ability to use both eyes together - is the foundation of depth perception and binocular vision (utilizing both eyes in a coordinated manner). Stable fusion allows the athlete to take in visual information in a reliable and consistent way. Instability of fusion disrupts athletic performance and can lead to inconsistent performance or difficulties with specific aspects of your game.
Ocular Health
A traumatic brain injury can affect multiple aspects of ocular health; traumatic cataract, traumatic glaucoma and retinal detachments are just a few examples. A thorough evaluation of ocular health should be performed following an acquired brain injury.
Ocular Motility (Eye Movements)
Eye movements must be fast, accurate, and coordinated while participating in sports. Eye movements are used to quickly scan the field of play or to track a moving object. The saying 'keep your eye on the ball' stresses the importance of efficient eye movements during competition.
Ocular Posture (Resting Position)
Ocular posture, or the resting position of the two eyes, is evaluated to determine the presence or absence of strabismus (eye turn). Eye position is also related to how hard you must work to coordinate your eyes. Depth perception, fusion, ocular motility, vergence, and visual acuity are all affected by ocular posture.
Vergence (Eye Teaming)
The strength and flexibility of the eye teaming system should be evaluated. Deficits in eye teaming will result in double vision, eyestrain, fatigue, headaches, or dizziness. Deficiencies of the vergence system will affect sports performance either globally or during specific aspects of your game (such as putting in golf).
Visual Acuity (Clarity)
Clear vision is the foundation of both visual performance and overall performance. Simply put, if you cannot see well you cannot expect to play well. While 20/20 vision is adequate for daily life, most competitive athletes benefit from seeing better than 20/20. Athletes rely on clear vision to perform at their best.
Processing Speed
Once visual information is taken in, it must be processed by the brain. Visual processing speed refers to how quickly and efficiently an athlete is able to make sense of visual information. In other words, how much information can an athlete process in a given amount of time. Processing speed allows for split second decisions and reactions to a changing visual environment.
Spatial Awareness/Visual Attention
People often comment that an athlete has 'vision' or 'sees the game'.They are referring to the player's spatial awareness and visual attention. Sports often require an athlete to divide their visual attention between central objects (such as the ball) and peripheral objects (such as incoming defenders). Seeing the game allows an athlete to play at a high level.
Visual Field (Side Vision)
Peripheral, or side vision, can be affected following an acquired brain injury. Strokes, or cerebrovascular accidents, often result in visual field defects. Patients with visual field loss after a brain injury can complain of blurred vision, darkening of vision or a shadow in one area of vision. Visual field loss negatively impacts mobility and driving. Additionally, visual field loss increases the risk for repeat falls.
Visual Perception
This group of skills includes visual discrimination (determining likeness), spatial relations (determining differences), form constancy (determining sameness even when changed in size or orientation), visual memory, visual sequential memory, figure-ground (extracting valuable information from the background), and visual closure (ability to put the pieces together to form the whole). These perceptual skills are essential for athletic success.

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When Should a Neuro-Optometric Assessment be Performed?

A Neuro-Optometric Assessment should be performed early in the recovery process. It is important to determine the integrity of the visual system (how fragile is the visual system, to what degree is performance affected, etc) and to accurately diagnose visual system deficits. A primary goal of recovery is to re-establish a stable neuro-visual system (including visual, visual-motor, and visual-vestibular abilities); critical to the recovery efforts of rehabilitative therapies such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. and overall improvement. It is important to remember that visual system deficits impede rehabilitative therapies and prolong the road to recovery.

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Before vision therapy, Sarah struggled with reading, experienced frequent headaches, and overall had difficulties focusing during school.  Despite tutoring and summer literacy programs, she continued to struggle with reading; she skipped lines and never volunteered to read aloud.  Following vision therapy, Sarah no longer loses her place while reading and even volunteers to read aloud. "Until Dr. Johnson tested for Sarah's vision issues we all were unaware they existed.  This experience help… 
- Sarah's Story
In the few weeks Erin has been attending vision therapy, we are already beginning to notice changes. Homework doesn't take as long as it did two months ago, there are no more tears when she has a lot to write, she is becoming more and more independent as time goes on. She still needs a lot of guidance, but seems to "catch on" to what is expected of her a lot faster. The greatest improvement, however, has been in her report card. Last year, Erin's third grade teacher wanted to fail her because s… 
- Erin's Story
"Bella loves reading now, whereas before she hated it. I have already recommended that two of my friends bring their children here because they are struggling with similar issues. Bella had so much fun with therapy and I have enjoyed seeing her improve in her reading and the rest of school."  
- J.G.
"Before I started vision therapy, I hated doing homework or reading.  I would give my mom a hard time and homework would take forever.  Now, I love school, schoolwork, homework, and reading.  My glasses helped out a lot.  I have seen a difference in my handwriting, reading and just seeing things in a new way.  Vision therapy has helped me open up and accept changes, it has helped me be more aware of what is going on.  Vision therapy kept me out of the Special Ed. class at my old school and help… 
- K.A.
"Before vision therapy Aidan hated school and homework.  He would jump from line to line while reading, he rubbed his eyes a lot while doing homework, and he turned words completely around when reading (saw became was).  After vision therapy with Advanced Vision Therapy Center, his reading scores have improved drastically, he is less disruptive in class, and his overall view of school is much better.  He is looking forward to starting second grade and reads like a champ!"  
- F.L.
"About two years ago I went to the eye doctor and he discovered I had a problem with my vision.  We tried glasses, but it made it worse.  My doctor recommended vision therapy.  From the start of vision therapy I loved the sessions.  I got to play games while fixing my eyes.  I went to vision therapy for a few months and my eyes made huge improvements, my regular eye doctor was amazed.  It is remarkable how exercises and games can improve somone's eyesight dramatically.  If anyone has eye proble… 
- L.B.
"Thank you so much for introducing me to vision therapy.  This was brand new to me and it surprised me with it's effectiveness.  I can definitely tell a difference in my eyes while reading.  This has particularly improved at times when my eyes are tired, when I used to get most uncomfortable.  As a student, I can tell a difference in my study habits, and vision therapy has also helped me enjoy reading more than I used to. I would recommend vision therapy to anyone with a similar problem with… 
- C.W.
My son's eyes were consistently red after school and while attempting to sit down and do homework, he complained that he was seeing two of everything. He just fought me when it came time to read. This started in kindergarten and followed into first grade, so I had patience with his struggles, basing it on the fact that maybe he still needs some time to learn how to read. It was not until the school started to reach out to me that he was not at reading level and also acting out in class that I d… 
- Rachelle T.

Call 208.377.1310 to Schedule Your Assessment

Advanced Vision Therapy Center is Idaho’s premier clinic for Vision Therapy, Neuro-Optometric Vision Rehabilitation and Sports Vision Training. We offer vision assessments and customized treatment for both children and adults that are tailored to the specific vision condition of each individual.

Not sure which type of vision assessment is right for you? Call us today and we'll help you determine the best assessment to achieve your visual goals.

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