Note: Earlier on, I posted my own vision therapy story. The story below is shared by the Vision Therapist at Bright Eyes, Edna Moore. It is an excellent example of the power of vision therapy and what inspired Edna to pursue it.
I couldn't believe that it had already been more than one month since James was accidentally hit in the face with a soccer ball during recess at school. He had started experiencing double vision and said that things would become blurry, then clear again. But he didn't start having headaches until a few weeks later. That is when we started searching for a cure for all of his symptoms. But after seeing so many specialists, I was not very hopeful in finding relief for James.
"I'm sorry, but your son will have to live with these headaches for the rest of his life. There is nothing else we can do for him."
These were the exact words that the pediatric neurologist told me after putting my 10-year-old son, James, through a battery of tests for his headaches, dizziness, and double vision. He had endured a CAT scan, an MRI, a spinal tap, and electric nodes secured into his head to find the cause of his double vision and unrelenting headaches that would not be relieved even with medication. After a month of seeing the pediatrician, an optometrist, and ophthalmologist, and now this neurologist, I was hoping to finally find the real cause of his symptoms. Instead, I was told that my son was going to have to suffer with this pain for the rest of his life. I wept silently inside again, as I had done many times before, so that James wouldn't see me crying while we walked slowly out of the hospital that day. I thought to myself, "No one should ever have to hear that he would have to suffer in pain for the rest of his life, especially a 10-year-old child. You just don't say that to a child who is hurting so much." He had become so depressed and withdrawn from everyone because of this pain that he even stopped drawing altogether, which was his most favorite hobby. I would often find him lying on the sofa by himself, weeping silently. When I would ask him what was wrong, he would say that it was of no use to tell me since it was always the same thing - that his head hurt so badly, and no one could make the pain go away. One of the most difficult times for a parent is when you helplessly witness your child's pain and realize that you cannot take the pain away for him. So I swore to myself that I would do whatever it took to give James some relief from his headaches, dizziness, and double vision.
During our follow-up with our pediatrician, I reported what the pediatric neurologist had told me. I was so glad to hear that my pediatrician was not going to give up trying to find out what was causing James' headaches for this long. This time, he sent us to see the Head of USF's Department of Balance Disorders. James went through more testing, and still we had no answers to his symptoms. But just as we were about to leave, the Dean told me in passing that it was interesting that James' symptoms were very much like those of victims of whiplash or strokes, and to maybe see an optometrist who specialized in helping those patients with vision therapy. I was skeptical at first, since James had 20/20 vision. I didn't understand how an eye doctor could get rid of his painful headaches, especially if no one else could at this point. But we had nothing to lose by seeing him, so we went.
Michael Phillips, O.D., was one of a handful of optometrists who had training in Vision Therapy in Florida during this time. Luckily for us, his practice was located in St. Petersburg. After examining James' vision, Dr. Phillips diagnosed him with Visual Midline Shift Syndrome in which a patient experiences a shift in his visual midline. We immediately began in-office vision therapy sessions three times a week for 45 minutes each. James also had to wear a pair of yoked prism glasses everyday in order to correctly shift what he was seeing back to his central line of vision. His vision therapy lasted for 3 months, and James' symptoms slowly decreased. Eventually his headaches, double vision, and dizziness all stopped. After the therapy was completed, Dr. Phillips re-evaluated James and discovered that the midline shift had been successfully brought back to the center of his vision. Soon James' depressed moods had lifted, and he was returning back to his old self.
If it had not been for Dr. Phillips and his expertise in vision therapy, our son would still be suffering with those symptoms, and his life would have turned out very differently for him. My husband and I are very grateful to Michael Phillips, O.D., Nathan Bonilla-Warford, O.D., and other optometrists who have dedicated themselves in treating patients with vision therapy, which ultimately changes their lives forever.
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Westchase, Tampa, FL
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