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Mental Health and Your Vision

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the USA; in Canada, Mental Health week is May 6th to 12th. Since 1949, it has been observed throughout the United States as a way of drawing attention to the importance of proper mental health. This year’s theme is #4Mind4Body. The idea is that using elements around us, such as the people in our lives, faith, nature, and even pets, can strengthen wellness and overall mental health.

Did you know that your vision can affect your mental health? While things like stress, trauma, and family history are factors that impact mental health, vision can also impact it.

How Does Vision Affect Mental Health?

Certain types of eye diseases and visual impairments can lead to emotional problems like anxiety and depression. This is particularly common in cases of severe vision loss. Patients with glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy, for example, can experience mild to acute vision loss. This can make everyday activities like driving, running errands, watching TV, using a computer, or cooking, a difficult and painful experience. When this happens, it can cause a loss of independence, potentially leaving the person mentally and emotionally devastated.

Like most surgical procedures, LASIK corrective surgery is permanent and irreversible. Although it has very high success rates, LASIK has been considered the cause of depression and mental health issues in a few instances.

Kids’ Vision and Mental Health

Increased screen time among school-age children and teens has been shown to reduce emotional stability and cause repeated distractions and difficulty completing tasks, while also increasing the likelihood of developing nearsightedness.

Kids with visual problems often experience difficulty in school. If they can’t see the board clearly or constantly struggle with homework due to poor vision, they may act out their frustration or have trouble getting along with their peers.

Coping with Vision Problems

One of the most important ways to cope with visual problems is awareness. Simply paying attention to the signs and symptoms — whether the patient is an adult or a child — is a crucial first step. 

Family members, close friends, colleagues, parents, and teachers can all play an important role in detecting emotional suffering in those with visual difficulties. Pay attention to signs of changes in behavior, such as a loss of appetite, persistent exhaustion, or decreased interest in favorite activities.

Thankfully, many common vision problems are treatable. Things like double vision, hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), amblyopia (lazy eye), and post-concussion vision difficulties can be managed. Vision correction devices, therapeutic lenses, visual exercises, or special prism glasses may help provide the visual clarity you need. Your primary eye doctor can help and a vision therapist or low vision expert may make a significant impact on your quality of life.

How You Can Help

There are some things you can do on your own to raise awareness about good mental health:

Speak Up

Often, just talking about mental health struggles can be incredibly empowering. Ask for help from family and friends or find a local support group. Be open and honest about what you’re going through and talk with others who are going through the same thing. Remember: you’re not alone.

If you experience any type of sudden changes to your vision — even if it’s temporary — talk to your eye doctor. A delay in treatment may have more serious consequences, so speak up and don’t wait.

Get Social

Developing healthy personal relationships improves mental health. People with strong social connections are less likely to experience severe depression and may even live longer. Go out with friends, join a club, or consider volunteering.

Have an Animal

Having a pet has been shown to boost mental health and help combat feelings of loneliness. Guide dogs can be especially beneficial for people suffering from vision loss.

Use Visual Aids

If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health issues caused by vision loss, visual aids can help. Devices like magnifiers or telescopic lenses can enlarge text, images, and objects, so you can see them more clearly and in greater detail.

Kids can benefit from vision correction like glasses, contacts, or specialized lenses for more severe cases of refractive errors. Vision therapy may be an option, too. It is a customized program of exercises that can improve and strengthen visual functions.

Always talk to your eye doctor about any concerns, questions, or struggles. 

Thanks to programs like Mental Health Awareness Month, there is less of a stigma around mental health than just a few decades ago. Advancements in medical technologies and scientific research have led to innovative solutions for better vision care.

During this Mental Health Awareness Month, share your share your struggles, stories, and successes with others. Use the hashtag #Mind4Body and give your loved ones hope for a healthy and high quality of life.


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Referring Professionals for Vision Therapy, Joplin

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What Is Vision Therapy?

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School Performance? On-going Vision Issues?

Does your child lack focus, complain about vision problems, are you worried about their performance in school?

Do you suffer from vision or coordination problems that can't be solved with eyeglasses or contact lenses?

If you are looking for non-surgical and effective treatment to correct vision problems and enhance coordination and learning, consider Vision Therapy with your eye doctors here at Coleman Vision in Joplin, Missouri.

Vision Therapy refers to a wide range of progressive vision procedures using cutting-edge tools and methodologies that is based on the idea that vision is a learned skill that can be improved through proper training. Under close supervision with your optometrist, Dr. David Coleman or Dr. Jeff Coleman, you will receive the most up-to-date treatment, with cutting-edge tools and methodologies to treat your condition and improve your vision, learning, and quality of life.

Is Your Child Struggling With Homework?

Our Visual System

Vision is all about the way our brains and eyes interact. Whether it’s reading words on the board, catching a ball, or tying our shoelaces, we depend on our visual system to work properly in order to succeed at any of these tasks.

This is because vision isn’t just what we see, it’s how we interpret and interact with that information. In fact, you can have perfect visual acuity―able to rattle off all the symbols on the reading chart―but still struggle with dyslexia, poor focus, hand-eye coordination, or vision conditions like strabismus, amblyopia, or convergence insufficiency.

Strabismus, Dipolopia, and Amblyopia

These conditions distort the way other people perceive the person who suffers from them. The way our eyes work is a huge part of the non-verbal human interaction and people sadly find that someone with strabismus or amblyopia to be disturbing. It distorts the way people read your attention, focus, and intentions. This causes severe social problems that are devastating to the success and happiness of adults and children alike. These conditions were traditionally treated with surgery or corrective patches which are nearly as socially problematic as the condition itself.

Vision Therapy provides effective treatment for these conditions without resorting to patches. The methods of VT often avoids surgery as well. Learn more about cross eye and lazy eye. 

safe imageVision Therapy helps patients improve their foundation for reading, learning and playing sports. It’s a series of custom and individualized activities and exercises which function as a form of neuro-optometric rehabilitation.

In other words, Vision Therapy retrains the brain to more effectively interact with the eyes and therefore improve vision functioning. The goal is to enhance eye tracking, focusing and eye teaming abilities as well as eye-hand coordination and visual processing speed.

Our program is not only for children. Vision Therapy is effective for adults, especially if they are motivated to improve their visual abilities. Conveniently located in Joplin, we are able to provide vision therapy for Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Vision Therapy is all about the neurological understanding of the connection between vision and the brain in order to treat or enhance and/or correct vision difficulties, coordination, and learning. You can think of it as a kind of physical therapy that repairs or improves the way your eyes and brain interact. The process and treatment program is completely customized to the specific conditions and needs of the patient by our eye doctors.

Vision Therapy is highly effective and is non-invasive. Depending on the circumstances, it either rehabilitates from surgery or replaces surgical solutions entirely.’

Who Is Vision Therapy For?

Your Joplin Developmental Optometrists can help with lazy eye (amblyopia), eye turns (strabismus), traumatic brain injury (concussion, whiplash) and special needs populations. Research has shown that 20% of children have a vision issue that affects their learning.

What Does Vision Therapy Treat?

Vision Therapy can be used to treat the following conditions for both adults and children:

  • Binocular Vision and Vision Alignment issues including:
    • Strabismus ("cross-eyed", often as either esotropia or exotropia)
    • Diplopia (double vision)
    • Amblyopia ("lazy eye")
  • Accommodative Dysfunction or Disorders
  • Depth Awareness or constricted visual fields
  • Retained Reflexes
  • Convergence Insufficiency (eye strain and/or diplopia when trying to sustain focus for reading or working)
  • Reading and learning disabilities
  • Asthenopia
  • Neuro-visual Rehabilitation (e.g. after surgery or brain trauma due to strokes, Traumatic Brain Injury, etc.)
  • Vision and coordination issues arising from Developmental Disabilities or Trauma
  • Poor motor-skills and coordination
  • Myopia

The techniques of Vision Therapy can also be applied to train the eyes and brain for better hand-eye coordination, focus, and fine-motor skills.



What is Amblyopia?

Amblyopia, commonly referred to as “lazy eye” is when there is a significant difference in power between the eyes. This is often, but not always, caused by an alignment or eye-teaming problem such as strabismus.

Some common symptoms and problems associated with lazy eye:

  • Poor depth perception
  • Head tilting
  • Social stigma
  • Slow reading*

*According to a study published on November 2015 by the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, children with amblyopia read slower 42 words per minute than children without amblyopia that read 81 words per minute.

Treatment for Amblyopia: It’s Not about the “Bad” Eye

Amblyopia or “lazy eye” is best treated by Vision Therapy.

First, the source of the amblyopia must be identified. When indicated, eyeglasses are prescribed. Many eye doctors, particularly Pediatric Ophthalmologists, begin treatment by patching the "bad" eye. However, patching is now proven to be ineffective! Likewise, some doctors recommend atropine eye drops. However, this addresses the symptoms and not the neuro-optometric cause itself.

The common approach treats the problem as a problem in that one eye. Treating one eye may improve the acuity (being able to see letters on a chart) for a while, but often reverts and regresses.

The developmental approach taken by Vision Therapists realizes that amblyopia is really not an eye problem, but rather a problem of not being able to use the two eyes together as a team (eye-teaming). This approach is therefore often much more successful. In the same way that it was difficult for a parent to identify if someone had the problem, to begin with, it is often difficult for them to know if a doctor's recommendation to patch the eye is really working. They, therefore, may be losing time with an ineffective outdated treatment plan.

Amblyopia does not go away on its own, and it can significantly affect a child’s ability to both learn and thrive socially in school. Untreated amblyopia can lead to permanent visual problems and poor depth perception. To prevent this and to give your child the best vision possible, amblyopia should be treated early by vision therapy.

At What Age Can Vision Therapy Treat Amblyopia?

An old axiom that is still held by many Missouri eye doctors is that amblyopia must be detected and aggressively treated before the age of 8 or 9. In reality, treatment for amblyopia or lazy eye is effective for adults as well as children. A child’s visual system is more malleable at a younger age, making treatment quicker at a younger age. However, adults with amblyopia or “lazy eye” tend to be more motivated patients. Improved eye teaming is nearly always achievable.

Our Developmental Eye Doctors provide advanced treatment for both adults and children with Amblyopia/Lazy eye. Our developmental optometrists treat patients from the 4 states including Joplin, Rogers, Miami, and Springfield. 


What is Strabismus?

Strabismus, often referred to as “Crossed Eyes”, “Wandering Eyes”, or “Wall Eye” is a condition where the eyes fail to properly align. Beyond the social stigma, strabismus often results in other vision and visual processing problems such as diplopia (double-vision), amblyopia, and problems with depth perception. A major concern for developmental optometrists is that strabismus is not as simple to diagnose as a visual check. In fact, you can have strabismus without any obvious crossing or eye turn.

There are four kinds of strabismus, two horizontal and two vertical:

  • Esotropia:     one eye may turn in relative to the other {try and find images for these, commons domain}
  • Exotropia:    one eye turns out relative to the other
  • Hypertropia:  one eye turns up relative to the other
  • Hypotropia:   one eye turns up relative to the other

Treatment for Strabismus

All too often, parents are told "don't worry, your child will 'grow out of it'. This is a mistake. In most cases the problem does not improve as the child grows, and meanwhile strabismus leads to significant difficulties with reading and learning. Treatment varies depending on the cause of the eye-turning, and may include:

  • Eyeglasses
  • Vision Therapy
  • Prism
  • Eye muscle surgery

Eye muscle surgery can sometimes make the eyes appear to others as if it is straight, but it rarely aligns with the other eye, and the amblyopia continues.  A program of Vision Therapy for children or adults, is usually needed in order to restore visual function and the ability to use the two eyes together as a team.

Convergence Insufficiency

What is Convergence Insufficiency?

Convergence Insufficiency is a neuro-visual condition where the eyes fail to come together (to converge) enough to enable proper visual perception. The condition is particularly related to near-vision or near-center and visually demanding activities. This can result in:

  • Poor school performance and behavioural problems
  • Eyestrain
  • Blurred vision
  • Diplopia (double-vision)
  • Asthenopia (eye strain and fatigue)
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Difficulty reading and concentrating
  • Avoidance of “near” work
  • Poor sports performance
  • Dizziness or motion sickness

A study of almost 700 5th and 6th graders indicated that convergence insufficiency is much more common than many assumed with 13% of students having CI, as well as demonstrating that of the children who showed three signs of CI, 79% where classified as being accommodative insufficient as well.

Treatment for Convergence Insufficiency

Eye coordination problems such as convergence insufficiency and convergence excess generally cannot be improved with eye glasses or surgery. Likewise, research demonstrates that the traditional focus exercise often called "pencil pushups" are ineffective. The only consistently effective treatment for convergence insufficiency is office-based Vision Therapy, which will improve eye coordination abilities and reduce symptoms and discomfort when doing close work.

Neuro-Visual Rehabilitation

There's much more to vision than seeing 20/20. If you suffer from eye-turns, lazy eye, or have poor focus or perception, the Neuro-visual rehabilitation of Visual Therapy can offer proven, significant improvement.

It works because the interaction and cooperation between vision and the brain is crucial to the way we use vision to effectively interact with our surroundings. Most importantly, the way we learn is directly correlated to how effectively our brains and eyes interact. 

Retained Reflexes

If you or your child suffer from poor physical ability or posture, it could be a case of retained primitive reflexes. This condition occurs when the basic infant reflexes present in infancy remain neurologically present past infancy. This causes the following problems:

  • Problems with visual perception and spatial awareness
  • Poor balance and motion sickness
  • Dislike of sports, movement, and walking problems
  • Poor posture
  • Diminished physical and learning capabilities

Learn more about retained reflexes

Children, Learning Disorders, and Vision

Vision issues can cause significant behavioral and learning challenges for children. Often, these challenges manifest in ways that are often confused with dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, reading problems, and poor focus.

This can result in misdiagnosis. If children exhibiting these symptoms receive a negative diagnosis, this leaves parents feeling helpless and uncertain.

Neuro-Visual Performance Analysis can ascertain whether a vision problem is at the root of these problems, and can determine the next steps to improve the situation.

Developmental Disabilities, Trauma, and Vision

Anyone who has had to deal with a Traumatic Brain Injury, brain surgery, or has a developmental disabilities or autism knows the frustration and anguish created by the cognitive and motor challenges that come along with it. Coordination and motor problems can be significantly improved with Vision Therapy. Our eye doctors will work with the patient to "relearn" how to use visual inputs to more accurately and effectively perceive and interact with the world.

Vision Therapy can be used to improve or regain visual and motor acuity, learn more about special needs vision. 

Meet Our Joplin Vision Therapy Optometrists

jeff david

Dr. Jeff and Dr. David Coleman carry on a family tradition as the third generation to provide eye care to patients from the 4 states. Dr. Jeff and Dr. David are passionate about the life-changing potential of vision therapy and work with patients of all ages and conditions to help them achieve their best.

Learn more about our eye doctors

Questions And Answers

Questions And Answers

Is there an age limit to vision therapy?

No. There is no age limit because of the brain’s neuroplasticity. Our brains are dynamic and flexible. Just like a muscle or playing an instrument, the more we practice and hone our ability and memory, the more skillful we become.

Do You Offer Light Therapy?

There are vision conditions and mood problems that can be successfully treated using specific wavelengths ― that is, different colors ― of light.

Our visual therapists are able to stimulate the biochemistry of the brain in order to treat a wide range of visual conditions, as well as emotional problems related to light, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Read more about how we use optometric phototherapy as part of our Vision Therapy practice.

About Our Joplin Vision Therapy Practice

ColemanVisionDr. David Colman and his son, Dr. Jeff Coleman, are part of a family tradition to provide exceptional eye care that spans three generations. In addition to excellent general eye care, Coleman Vision Center offers specialized expertise in Vision Therapy, in order to provide the latest advances in eye treatment to their patients in Joplin, Missouri as well as the wider surrounding areas.

Serving Patients From The 4 States

We are proud to serve patients from Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma with the highest level of vision therapy. For patients that live too far to drive, we offer a specialized vision therapy program using the Vivid Vision platform. 

Neosho, Webb City, Carthage, Miami OK, Springfield MO, Springdale AR, Bentonville AR, Monett MO, Rogers AR, Fayetteville AR, Pittsburg KS.

Upon referral, the patient is required to have an assessment for vision therapy along with a full oculovisual health assessment.

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Vision Therapy in Joplin

Could Your Child Benefit with Vision Therapy?

Is your child not reading at grade level?
Is your child not performing to their potential at school?

Does your child have any attention difficulties or dislikes homework?

Undetected visual problems may be keeping your child from performing well in school.

Book An Appointment

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What Is Vision Therapy?

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20/20 vision is but ONE of over 17 important visual skills required to function efficiently to perform well in school or sports.

Children with reduced vision skills may work harder than their peers, yet be unable to achieve the results they seek. Their poor vision skills may also cause them to struggle to concentrate throughout the day.

Vision therapy is an evidence-based program to effectively strengthen the specific vision skills impacting your child and has been clinically proven to increase reading levels, enhance comprehension, maintain longer attention spans and even improve sports performance.

See a difference in your child’s school performance!

If your child has been diagnosed with a reading or learning difficulty or just not reaching their potential at school, or on the sports field, schedule an appointment with Dr. David Coleman and Dr. Jeff Coleman in Joplin for a functional eye exam. Over 17 visual skills will be assessed, including eye tracking, reading fluency, focusing and depth perception.

Don’t let your child suffer in silence.

Vision therapy might just be the solution you have been seeking. Talk to us! We’ll help your child maximize their visual skills and resolve any underlying visual problems impacting your child.

Read More about Improving Your Child's Reading

How To Know If Your Child Needs Vision Therapy

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If your child has any of the following, vision therapy can significantly change his or her life for the better.

  • Skipping words or lines while reading
  • Still not reading at grade level
  • Confusing the letters b, d, p and q
  • Rubbing eyes or closing one eye when reading or doing near work
  • Holding books too closely or tilting head when reading
  • Eyestrain or headaches with schoolwork or computer use
  • Difficulty with reading comprehension
  • Blurred or double vision when reading
  • Avoiding homework
  • Poor attention span
  • Fidgeting and squirming in the chair

Help Your Child Reach Their Potential With Vision Therapy

At The Vision Therapy Center At Coleman Vision we use a holistic approach to vision care. In addition to the usual eye exam, we also test the entire visual system (functional vision exam) to check that it has the developmental maturity, strength, and stamina to function optimally throughout the visual tasks performed on a daily basis.

Once we identify any vulnerable areas within the visual system that could interfere with reading and learning, we develop an effective vision therapy regimen made of individually-tailored eye exercises made to improve visual functions and retrain the brain to interpret visual input more accurately.

Contact The Vision Therapy Center At Coleman Vision in Joplin today for a functional eye exam, or visit us with your concerns regarding your child’s vision, and we’ll be sure to find the best way to treat his or her visual problems.

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Vision Therapy May Be What Your Child Always Needed | FAQ

Improve your child’s confidence levels with vision therapy!

Vision therapy is a non-surgical treatment program that is typically compared to physical therapy, but for the eyes and brain. Vision therapy uses exercises, lenses, specific instruments, and occlusions to enhance visual function.

All vision therapy programs are customized and can result in significant lasting improvements within a relatively short period of time. To learn more, contact us today and discover how we can help your child improve their performances both in school and on the sports field.

medical-plus medical-plus Isn't 20/20 Vision Enough?

If a child has been told that they have ‘20/20 sight’, it means that they can clearly see the letters on the chart 20 feet away. The child may excel in reading the letters on the vision charts on the wall, yet lack the necessary visual skills needed for reading, writing, and learning —  all of which can adversely impact their performance in school and in sports.  

Keep in mind that school screenings, and even some regular eye exams, generally evaluate sight (visual acuity) only and most do not assess the essential vision skills required for sports, extensive computer use, reading and learning. Furthermore, it is common to not need glasses and still have poor visual skills. Therefore, a functional vision exam will determine whether a child has poor visual skills, and if so, a tailor-made vision therapy program will be put in place to help the patient succeed and reach their potential. 

medical-plus medical-plus What Are Some Major Benefits of Vision Therapy?

Developing visual skills can lead children to become better learners and students. In fact, vision therapy can be a key component in preparing a child for higher education, as increased success can lead to a rise in self esteem and greater confidence in one's abilities. This newfound confidence will inevitably trickle into other areas, positively impacting the youngster's quality of life and achievements. 

medical-plus medical-plus How Long Does It Take to See Results?

Results depend on the child's active participation and compliance with the program. Over time, the more one trains their brain, the easier and more automated the exercises will become. Gains can be experienced from as little as a few weeks to six months.

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What Conditions Can Vision Therapy Help Treat?

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The Financial Cost of Vision Therapy

consTo ensure the integrity and true potential of our programs, our doctors have a step-by step approach to their recommendations for treatment. Vision Therapy can be similar to LASIK or Orthodontic braces and less than Sylvan Learning tutoring. Our Vision Therapy programs are designed to create improved function for a lifetime of optimal vision performance unlocking a persons true potential. Payments are accepted with check, cash and all major credit cards. We are also merchants for Care Credit a finance company that finances a variety of medical services, application may be filled out online or you can call . Care Credit has a variety of payment options available. Vision Therapy can be priceless for those individuals who would strongly benefit from it.  If cost is a concern, we offer several treatment options to help make it possible to receive your prescribed therapy services. There is always a step we can make to help move forward to better vision.

Learn More About Vision Therapy In Joplin 

Call Us For A Free Consultation (417) 238-0229

Visit Care Credits Website For Financing information

Learn More About Vision Therapy In Joplin

Call Us (417) 238-0229

Dyslexia, ADHD or Vision problem?

single male asian with glasses 1280x480Something's not right, and your child is suffering. But Is it a Vision Problem, Dyslexia, ADD or ADHD?

Many symptoms of visual disorders mimic symptoms of dyslexia, ADD and ADHD. Many children and adults carrying the label of dyslexic, ADD or ADHD really have functional vision problems, which can be treated!

Dyslexia type symptoms can occur when there are eye teaming, eye tracking and perceptual problems that can cause words, letters and numbers to appear to move or jump on a page. Many people mistakenly think that they or their children have dyslexia because they can see 20/20 with or without corrective lenses and still have trouble reversing words, letters and numbers. Many of these same children and adults have never been tested for or told that they may have a vision disorder. There are cases where both problems are present. True dyslexia can still be present in rare cases after vision disorders are resolved, but in many cases what was thought of as dyslexic symptoms disappear once the eye teaming, tracking and perceptual vision skills are strengthened.

Undiagnosed vision problems can often be confused with ADD or ADHD. Attention span, restlessness and frustration in the classroom and out of the classroom can result from not being able to process the millions of pieces of visual information needed to learn and function in tasks that are needed everyday. There are many symptoms that visual disorders, ADD and ADHD have in common. Please make note of the symptom checklist provided on this website.

There are several symptoms that are unique to ADD and ADHD such as running and climbing excessively, difficulty in playing quietly and always being on-the-go. When the problem is a visual disorder, there are many instances where parents hear of symptomatic behaviors in the classroom and are baffled as to why they do not observe those same behaviors in the home where visual tasks are less demanding.

Only a comprehensive developmental vision evaluation (DVE) can eliminate the doubt when diagnosing dyslexia, ADD or ADHD. A comprehensive developmental vision evaluation is more in depth than a regular eye examination and tests all visual skills that are critical to everyday life in the classroom and out.

Learn More About Vision Therapy In Joplin

Call Us (417) 238-0229

Special Needs and Vision


Autism / Sensory Spectrum Disorders, Developmental Delays, Visual-Motor Deficits, Attention Deficit Disorders

The doctors at Coleman Vision are uniquely trained and have a long history of helping children and adults overcome visual difficulties as a result of special needs. To learn more about vision therapy as it relates to developmental delays or disorders, see:



Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Stroke, Birth Injury, Brain Damage, Head Injury, Whiplash, Cerebral Palsy, MS, etc.

Vision can be compromised as a result of neurological disorders or trauma to the nervous system. Vision Therapy can effectively treat the visual consequences of brain trauma (including double vision).

To learn more about visual rehabilitation with vision therapy, see:

Learn More About Vision Therapy In Joplin

Call Us (417) 238-0229

Light Therapy

Abstract composition of human head designs and fractal elements on the subject creativity imagination and knowledge.

Light Therapy, also known as Syntonics or Optometric Phototherapy, is the use of specific frequencies of visible light projected into the eyes, to enhance visual efficiency and visual information processing. It has been used by Behavioral Optometrists for over 70 years in the treatment of such visual dysfunctions as strabismus (eye turns), amblyopia (lazy eye), focusing and eye teaming problems, as well as learning disorders. In recent studies, Syntonics has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of traumatic brain injuries and various emotional disorders such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Coleman Vision is one of just a very few clinics in the Four States to offer this life changing treatment to our patients.

A child with visual related learning difficulties often has constricted visual fields. This means that in cases where there is an excess of visual information coming into the eyes, more than the child can process in a single eye movement, the visual field often reduces in size. This affects the amount of visual information that a person can see and understand.

The most common symptoms associated with reduced visual fields are words moving, or merging and skipping lines or words due to the difficulty that the child has in directing their eyes correctly. Constricted visual fields also affect one’s visual-spatial awareness which is the ability to accurately perceive and judge where objects are in one’s visual space world. Symptoms include poor eye/hand/body coordination which oftentimes results in poor organizational skills, poor handwriting, clumsiness and an overall “lost in space” appearance.

Learn about how to retain reflexes and vision in Joplin.

For more information about Light Therapy, we recommend the College of Syntonic Optometry’s website which can be found at:

Learn More About Vision Therapy In Joplin

Retained Reflexes and Vision

825fd1a96ecb0d446dc741da0e0f29d2What Are Primitive Reflexes?

Many people who have cared for an infant are familiar with primitive reflexes: Turn an infant’s head to one side and the arm and leg on that side turns in the same direction (Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex). Stroke an infant’s low back on one side and their side muscles instantly contract (Spinal Galant Reflex). Surprised by a sound, the infant instantly spreads their hands wide, throws their head back, and opens their eyes widely (Moro Reflex). Doctors often gauge the development of the child by the orderly progression of these reflexes.

Under optimal circumstances all reflexes “initiate” during the appropriate stage of the child’s development, “integrate” themselves as a fully functioning reflex, and then “inhibit” or fall away when it’s time to move on to the next developmental stage. It is vital that this occurs.  If various reflexes fail to initiate, integrate and inhibit, the system is locked into a developmental holding pattern that prevents natural maturation of neural systems, inevitably leading to mild through severe learning and performance challenges.

Retained Reflexes Lead to Learning Challenges

For children, these challenges show up clearly in the classroom, where it is hard for them to keep up with grade level expectations for academics and behavior. Those children most able to cope develop techniques for compensation.  They just get by or succeed with great effort. Those children who are least able to cope often end up in specialized classrooms or alternative schools. They are at high risk for behavior and attitude problems, most often due to years of sheer frustration.

Children and teens with reflex challenges grow into adults with reflex challenges.
They may end up with limited career choices, or may simply have to work extremely hard for each success. In any case, the common denominator is the need for struggle and effort against the invisible pull of these reflexes.

Compensation Takes Great Effort

Throughout our lives we strive to compensate for any of these reflexes that may still be present. This compensation takes a tremendous amount of energy. Under stress, those with retention of these reflexes, simply run out of energy to compensate and are less able to cope.

As a person ages, the energy to continue these automatic compensations becomes less and less available and the reflexes themselves begin to reappear in reverse order. As this happens, abilities fade and frustration emerges because of the tremendous effort required to do familiar tasks.

Why Test for Primitive Reflexes in a Behavioral Optometric Examination?

Because the symptoms of retained primitive reflexes are so similar to the symptoms of a learning-related visual problem, it is very important that we test for them as well.  If any primitive reflexes are present or retained they can limit the amount of improvement that is gained from a vision therapy program unless certain modifications are made to its implementation.

Symptoms of the Primitive Reflexes that relate to Behavioral Optometry

Moro Reflex:

  • Vestibular problems:  motion sickness, poor balance and coordination.
  • Physical timidity.
  • Eye movement and visual perceptual problems such as lazy or crossed eyes.
  • Stimulus bound effect – cannot ignore irrelevant visual material within a given visual field; the eyes tend to be drawn to the perimeter of a shape to the detriment of perception if there are internal features to the shape.
  • Light sensitivity, difficulty with black print on white paper, tires easily under fluorescent lighting.
  • Possible auditory confusion resulting from hypersensitivity to specific sounds (the child may have poor auditory discrimination skills and have difficulty shutting out background noise).
  • Allergies and lowered immunity; i.e. asthma, eczema, or a history of frequent ear, nose, and throat infections.
  • Adverse reaction to drugs.
  • Poor stamina.
  • Dislike of change or surprise; poor adaptability.

Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (ATNR):

  • Balance may be affected as a result of head movements to either side.
  • Homolateral instead of normal cross-pattern movements (i.e. when walking, marching, skipping, etc.)
  • Difficulty crossing the midline.
  • Poor ocular “pursuit” movements, especially at the midline.
  • Mixed laterality (child may use left foot, right hand, left ear, or he/she may use left or right hand interchangeably for the same task).
  • Poor handwriting and poor expression of ideas on paper.
  • Visual-perceptual problems, particularly in symmetrical representation of figures.

Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR):

  • Poor posture.
  • Tendency to slump when sitting, particularly at a desk or table.
  • Simian (ape-like) walk.
  • Poor eye-hand coordination, messy eater, clumsy child syndrome.
  • Difficulties with readjustment of binocular vision (child cannot change focus easily from blackboard to desk).
  • Slowness at copying tasks.
  • Poor swimming skills.

Spinal Galant Reflex:

  • Fidgeting.
  • Bedwetting.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Poor short-term memory.
  • Hip rotation to one side when walking.

Tonic Labyrinthe Reflex:

  • Poor posture and/or stooping.
  • Hyoptonus (weak muscle tone).
  • Vestibular-related problems (i.e. poor sense of balance, carsickness).
  • Dislike of sporting activities, physical education classes, running, etc.
  • Eye movement, visual perceptual, and spatial problems.
  • Poor sequencing skills.
  • Poor sense of time.
  • Poor organization skills.

Learn More About Vision Therapy In Joplin

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Neuro-Visual Rehabilitation/Neuro-Optometry


Neuro-Optometry is a specialty field of vision care that combines neurology and optometry to assess how the brain processes information sent from the eyes.  When communication between your brain and eyes are disrupted due to injury or disease vision problems usually occur.

Each year, more than 1 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries.  90% of head trauma survivors need visual care.  There are many illnesses and injuries that can have dramatic effects on the visual system.  Traumatic head injuries, stroke, prolonged illness and diseases can cause problems in the visual system.  The results can be problems with eye teaming, tracking, diplopia (double vision), perceptual and/or focusing problems.

When should assessment occur?

Due to the impact of the visual system on cognitive and motor function, the visual rehabilitative needs of the brain injured, stroke or neurologically impaired patient must be addresses as early as possible and should be referred to a Neuro-optometrist for further evaluation.

Post Concussion / Traumatic Vision Syndrome or Visual Midline Shift Syndrome and patients with their associated symptoms are indications for possible Neuro-optometric rehabilitation.  Please take our Post Concussion / Brain Injury Symptom Checklist or contact us for more information or to set up a Neuro-Visual processing evaulation.



Post Concussion / Traumatic Vision Syndrome

The visual process is part of a sensorimotor feedback loop, which includes kinesthetic, proprioceptive and vestibular processes. Insults to the cortex produced by an acquired brain injury or stroke cause stress or interference in the central and autonomic nervous systems. As a result, a brain-injured person may experience diplopia, binocular dysfunction, or concentration postdifficulties. In the past, these symptoms were diagnosed as individual eye problems or muscle imbalances. We now know that these eye problems and other reported difficulties that result from a brain injury often occur because of the interference in the visual process. This, in turn, will cause sensorimotor spatial disorganization. This may also cause an eye to turn out or a strong tendency for both eyes to diverge. The resulting binocular problems are characteristic of Post Concussion / Traumatic Vision Syndrome.
Symptoms of Post Concussion / Traumatic Vision Syndrome:
• Double vision
• Headaches
• Blurred vision
• Dizziness or nausea
• Light sensitivity
• Attention or concentration difficulties
• Staring behavior (low blink rate)
• Spatial disorientation
• Losing place when reading
• Can't find beginning of next line when reading
• Comprehension problems when reading
• Visual memory problems
• Pulls away from objects when they are brought close to them
• Exotropia or high exophoria
• Accommodative insufficiency
• Convergence insufficiency
• Poor fixations and pursuits
• Unstable peripheral vision
• Associated neuromotor difficulties with balance, coordination and posture
• Perceived movement of stationary objects

Visual Midline Shift Syndrome

Visual Midline Shift Syndrome is an unusual phenomenon that often occurs following a neurological event such as a TBI or CVA. The ambient visual process
changes its orientation with regard to the midline of vision. Both lateral and
transverse midlines can be affected. We use the parietal lobe to integrate all
sensory input, including vision, and to be able to interpret information for
functional use. Visual input from the left eye is processed in the right side of the
brain, and input from the right eye is processed in the left side of the brain. When
this process is altered after a neurological event or injury, it can create a
perceived amplification of space internally on one side and a compressed
amplification of space on the other.
Symptoms of Visual Midline Shift Syndrome:
• Dizziness or nausea
• Spatial disorientation
• Consistently stays to one side of hallway or room
• Bumps into objects when walking
• Poor walking or posture: leans back on heels, forward, or to one side when
walking, standing or seated in a chair
• Perception of the floor being tilted
• Associated neuromotor difficulties with balance, coordination and posture
When should assessment occur?
Due to the major impact of the visual system on cognitive and motor function , the
visual rehabilitative needs of the brain injured, stroke, or neurologically impaired
patient must be addressed as early as possible.
Help with Assessment
These guides and checklists have been prepared to assist patients and
rehabilitation professionals in determining the appropriateness of referring
persons who have sustained a traumatic brain injury, CVA or other neurological
impairment. This information should be used as a first step in determining if visual difficulties are interfering with the rehabilitation progress of the individual.  Please take our Post Concussion / Brain Injury Checklist or contact us for more information or to set up a Neuro-Visual processing evaluation.

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Facts about Neuro-Visual Rehabilitation and Surgery


Surgery is usually recommended by physicians for the treatment of strabismus (eye turns, lazy eyes). However, surgery only attempts to deal with the symptom of the problem (i.e. the eye turn) rather than the cause.

In the majority of cases of strabismus not caused by trauma, strabismus is caused by the brain’s inability to use the eyes together as a team, not weak or overactive eye muscles. This inability is usually caused by genetics or developmental problems. Since the brain of this individual does not have the ability to know how to use the eyes together as a team correctly, it avoids double vision by turning or blurring an eye so that only one eye is being used at a time. However, surgery attempts to overcome this adaptation by altering the length of the eye muscles to cosmetically straighten the eyes. The brain will continue to try to avoid double vision after surgery, which is why several surgeries are usually performed on each strabismus patient as the eye generally turns again. If the eyes are eventually straightened cosmetically to a certain degree, the brain usually continues to use only one eye at a time.

Neuro-Visual Rehabilitation works with the cause of the problem (the inability of the brain to use both eyes together as a team) rather than the symptom (the eye turn). A therapy program is designed to train the brain to correctly use the eyes together as a team, thereby eliminating the need for the brain to turn an eye to avoid double vision. Because the root cause is being treated, Neuro-Visual Rehabilitation not only straightens the eyes but also allows both eyes to work together as a team which creates more comfortable and efficient vision.

What if I see 20/20 with or without corrective lenses?

Many people with visual problems including strabismus and amblyopia can pass a visual acuity, or 20/20, screening. There is more to vision than visual acuity. Eyesight is the ability to "see" small objects at a given distance with or without lens correction. Vision is a learned skill that includes eye tracking, eye teaming, focusing and perceptual skills. Both the eyes and the brain must work together to control the ability to interpret, identify, and make sense of what is seen by the eye.

What is my next step?

Call Coleman Vision for a complete Neuro-Visual Performance Analysis. The evaluation is a requires a recent (no more than six months old) general eye health exam from your family eye doctor prior to your evaluation appointment. Coleman Vision Improvement Center can do this exam if you do not already have a family eye doctor. A simple phone call or e-mail is all you need for more information or to set up an appointment with Coleman Vision. A Neuro-Visual Rehabilitation program designed by a developmental optometrist can make a lifetime of changes in the visual systems of persons with eye turns and lazy eye.

If you have a child with special needs, we can help. Learn how. 




Learn More About Vision Therapy In Joplin

Call Us: (417) 238-0229