Perspectives on Vision Therapy

From Medical Doctor’s (MD) Point of View

Is Vision Therapy Right For You/Your Child?

Does Vision Therapy Work?

When deciding if Vision Therapy is right for you or your child, it’s important to understand what Vision Therapy is, and the research supporting it. It’s also vital to look to organizations with the most up-to-date research on Vision Therapy. There are misconceptions and inaccurate positions by organizations, often many from the field of medicine such as Pediatrics and Ophthalmology, although I personally feel the tide is changing and more recent graduates of medical schools are receiving up-to-date research on how vision therapy works. One position paper in particular has been used against Vision Therapy multiple times and for years, although each time it is sufficiently discredited by listing it’s many inaccuracies and false arguments.

Below you will find a group of medical professionals showing strong support for the efficacy of Vision Therapy. While Vision Therapy has never claimed to be a panacea for all learning issues, it’s impact on visual processing and subsequent improvement in reading & learning cannot and should not be overlooked.

Dr. Debra Walhof is a Pediatrician who specializes in Integrative Medicine.  During the past 20 years, she has been involved in hospital-based and clinic-based, academia as well as community-based projects.  Her work focused primarily on multi-cultural and underserved populations who present as “at risk” across many developmental and behavioral domains.

“It is important to remember that normal sight may not necessarily be synonymous with normal vision…That being said, if there is a vision problem, it could be preventing the best tutoring and learning methods from working. Now that certainly doesn’t mean every dyslexic child needs vision therapy, however in my opinion, skills such as focusing, tracking and others are essential foundational tools for reading. In general, if your child has trouble with reading or learning to read, getting a vision evaluation to assess these skills from a qualified Developmental Optometrist would be a smart move.”

-Dr. Debra Walhof, MD

Pediatrician and Parent Advocate for the National Center for Learning Disabilities

Dr. Katherine Donovan, a psychiatrist from Charleston, S.C., was one of those parents who didn’t give up, “It wasn’t until my own child had problems with reading that I discovered that my medical training was missing a very valuable piece of information which turned out to be the key to helping my daughter, Lily. While I had taken Lily to many ophthalmologists and learning specialists, desperate to understand why this very bright child still could not read well, or write legibly at age 12, I always got the same answers:  “Her vision is fine and “she’s dyslexic.”

“As a physician, I had been taught that vision therapy was controversial and could not treat learning disabilities. However, my personal experience with my daughter proved to me that vision therapy worked, when nothing else did,” Dr. Donovan shares. “While vision therapy cannot treat learning disabilities, per se, it absolutely corrected a vision problem which was blocking Lily from being able to learn. After a visit with a developmental optometrist who tested over 15 visual skills critical to reading and learning, I was shocked to learn that Lily was seeing double out to three FEET—which meant that when she tried to read, the words were double. No wonder she hated to read!”

Following optometric vision therapy, “Lily now reads 300 pages a day, in her free time; she puts down ‘reading’ as her favorite hobby; and she has a 95-average at Buist Academy with NO help from me on her homework! Prior to this, I’d been spending three to four hours each night, for many years, tutoring Lily,” Dr. Donovan shares with delight. 

– Dr. Katherine Donovan, MD


Even though there is a wealth of optometric research which proves vision therapy works, there is false information in the medical community about vision therapy.  This can be confusing for parents, especially when it comes from their child’s pediatrician.  Dr. Joseph Manley, a physician and medical expert witness for medico-legal cases has confidence in the effectiveness of vision therapy.

“The conclusions (particularly the failure to recommend vision therapy for children likely to benefit from it) of the American Academy of Pediatrics report on Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and Vision are based on exclusion of the most relevant data and inconsistent application of the Academy’s stated criteria for selecting evidence.  They fail to acknowledge abundant published and anecdotal evidence supporting the use of vision therapy.  This overlooked evidence includes controlled trials, observational studies, case reports and consensus of experts – the same kinds of data that underpin the daily practice of medical professionals.”

– Dr. Joseph Manley, MD

Physician and Medical Expert Witness for medico-legal cases

Brock Eide, M.D., M.A. and Fernette Eide, M.D., leading clinicians and writers on learning disabilities run the Eide Neurolearning Clinic in Edmonds, Washington, are authors of the popular book, The Mislabled Child:  How Understanding Your Child’s Unique Learning Style Can Open the Door to Success, and lecture throughout the U.S. and Canada to parents, educators, therapists, and doctors. Drs. Eides have published extensively in the fields of gifted education, learning disabilities, and twice exceptionalities such as giftedness and dyslexia, and served as consultants to the President’s Council on Bioethics.

“In spite of the very positive research findings validating the role vision plays in learning, some are still claiming visual dysfunction plays little or no role in the reading challenges that dyslexics face. This is a shame. When we look specifically at the results of studies performed to address specific visual issues, the evidence supporting visual therapy is quite strong.”

 “While not all children or adults with dyslexia have visual processing problems, many –at least two-thirds in some studies– do. This makes sense from a neurological standpoint, because several of the structural neurological features associated with dyslexia appear to predispose to visual difficulties.”

“Not surprisingly, several types of visual difficulties are more common in dyslexic than non-dyslexic children. In one study of dyslexic children, just one type of visual problem, near-point convergence insufficiency, was present in 30-40% of the dyslexic children, compared to just 20% of controls. As can be seen from this control figure, visual processing problems are also quite common in non-dyslexic school-age children.”

“The bottom line is that visual problems are common, though not universal, in children who struggle to read; and optometric vision therapy can help address visual problems in children with significant visual dysfunction. A good visual examination is an important part of the workup of every struggling reader.

– Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide, MD

Neurologists & Leading Clinicians on Learning Disabilities

Want More Information?

Please visit the website for College of Optometrists in Vision Development and go to the menu bar and select “Research & White Papers.”

For more information about how vision therapy works and the critical link between vision and learning, please contact our office at (402) 502-0043 or visit our website