Welcome to The Bright Eyes Podcast: Advice for Healthy Vision for All Ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford & Dr. Beth Knighton, residency-trained optometrist that provide eye exams for glasses and contacts, and specialty services including vision therapy, myopia control, orthokeratology, and sports vision training. Their mission to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional, and individualized eye care.
In this episode, Dr. Nate talks with Bright Eyes Family Vision Care vision therapist, Edna Moore about what vision therapy is and what it is like to be a vision therapist.
The Full transcript:
Intro 00:00 Welcome to the bright eyes podcast, advice for healthy vision for all ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla- Warford and Dr Beth Knighton, residency trained optometrist providing eye care to all ages with exams for glasses and contacts and specialty services including vision therapy, Myopia control orthokeratology and sports vision training. Their mission is to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional, and individualized care.
Dr. Nate: 00:41 From the endless summer of Tampa, Florida this is the bright eyes podcast. My name is Dr Nate and I have our first special guest on the podcast. This is episode number eight and I am joined by Ed More. How are you doing, Edna?
Edna: 01:00 I’m doing great. How are you?
Dr. Nate: 01:02 I am super fantastic as always. So, Edna is our lead vision therapist at bright eyes. How, how many years have you been with us?
Edna: 01:02 Over eight years Dr. Nate.
Dr. Nate: 01:19 That is what I thought it seems like forever.
Edna: 01:25 No, it just seems like yesterday, actually it’s gone by a lot faster than what you would think eight years is.
Dr. Nate: 01:30 It’s been wonderful. It has been, and so for those who are not familiar with what vision therapy is, vision therapy really is a program of therapeutic activities that’s designed to improve some aspect of visual skill and that could be somebody who’s a child who either gets headaches or is having difficulty because their eyes don’t move or focus or it could be somebody who’s had some trauma or a brain injury or concussion and they are having double vision and that’s difficult for them. So it could be any of those types of things. Edna sees all different types of patients. And can you describe a little bit about what a day in the life of a vision therapist is?
Edna: 02:27 Sure. Actually, it’s a fun day. Each patient is different and when they come in, they are ready to get started. My job is to not only make it fun but also make it productive. So, we have a list of activities that the doctor has prescribed for the patient specifically during that forty to forty five minute session. And it’s my job to make it fun so that their eyes and their brain can learn quickly. Without thinking that these activities are going to be boring or that it’s hard to do, it’s fun to be able to create ways to show the patient that it can be done. A lot of these patients come in and they’ve already been frustrated with some of the things that they’ve had to do, whether it’s reading or not being able to see clearly, things like that to, being able to go through these different activities and then be able to do at the end. So a day in the life of the therapist is always changing. It’s challenging, but it’s also rewarding and it’s fun.
Dr. Nate: 03:42 Now you had some experience with vision therapy, before you came to work her as a vision therapist, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Edna: 03:47 Yes, my second child, he was ten and at school was hit with a soccer ball, by accident and he fell on the ground and hit his head and for, a number of months, his visual system, I didn’t know what was going on, but his, um, he started experiencing double vision, headaches, vomiting, and I had to, get him from school almost every day we didn’t realize what was going on. He didn’t have a concussion, he didn’t have whiplash, but, he kept telling me that, mom, I’m having double vision on and off, I’m having trouble balancing, I’m having trouble walking, I’m dizzy all the time, so through a battery of tests and getting MRIs, things like that, really all the different conventional ways of testing for these particular symptoms came up negative.
Edna: 04:42 It was only through a remark from a dean at USF had just mentioned in passing that maybe we should try seeing a vision therapist, a doctor who specialized in vision therapy. And that particular doctor had found out that just by doing a number of simple tests with his eyes that he had his center, was shifted to the right. So if you asked him to walk in the center of the hallway, he was actually a walking on the right side of the hallway. So through vision therapy, he went three times a week, about one hour a day and, , he also wore prisms in his glasses. Um, and for about three months we did that. And, after three months I was happy to see that I had my child back. He no longer experience double vision. His headaches were gone. He was no longer dizzy when he walked.
Edna: 05:45 It was as if this was a miracle cure or, but, I had no idea what this was. I did not know what they did with him in that room, but I know that experience as a mother when your child is going through headaches every day and it changes his life it changes the parents life too and and to see a child needlessly suffer like that and not be able to help him, I was relieved and elated that these symptoms had all disappeared and was resolved through vision therapy. So that was my, experience with vision therapy.
Dr. Nate: 06:23 I always love to hear that story because I had my own experience with vision therapy, which I’ll share on a different podcast, but I know that it helps you to be a better therapist when you understand what the patient and the parents are are going through. What do you think patients and parents think of the vision therapy program
Edna: 06:49 After they’re done with vision therapy, I’ve had both patients and parents make comments like “if it wasn’t for vision therapy, he wouldn’t be as confident as he is now”. “He’s doing activities that, before vision therapy, he would not have chosen to even try. Now my child is trying. I’ve had,, patients who hated reading, did not enjoy reading and didn’t understand why her other friends loved reading books where she found it very hard and not enjoyable. And after vision therapy, she’s now reading 400 page books and her mother says she’s just devouring the books left and right because she’s found that reading is now effortlessly.
Dr. Nate: 07:39 Some people, when they think about therapy, they think about physical therapy which might have happened after a surgery or some sort of injury and they don’t always have positive associations with that kind of therapy. What do you say to a parent or a patient who might feel like this is gonna be like that?
Edna: 08:00 I think that, if parents are unsure about vision therapy, it may mean that they don’t quite understand what’s going to take place and so, um, to explain it to a patient or a parent it’s like a sports or taking lessons for music. You come into the office or you go see your coach or you’re going to go to practice and you learn new skills and then you’re gonna go home and you practice, those skills so that you can improve upon them and then you come back the next week and, show your instructor or to learn new skills to build upon that. And that’s what vision therapy is. So as not some type of program where you wouldn’t understand the concepts. So I try to compare it to things that they already know about , if a child is in sports, you know, the child understands that, yeah, they go every week to practice, to learn new skills and then they, it’s to them to go home and practice. And the parents understand that to whether they’ve a learn to play an instrument or play sports. They understand and recognize the importance of that. And so that’s what vision therapy is. It’s as simple as that.
Dr. Nate: 08:00 Think most patients think it’s fun at least some of the time?
Edna: 09:13 Yes. I have heard often whether it’s my coworkers outside the office, outside the vision therapy room rather with the door closed, they can still hear us laughing. They don’t know what’s going on. They hear is clapping. They hear us saying that’s a great job. I hear children, laughing, you know, they mainly comment. They wonder why what’s going on in that room. Sounds like there’s a party going on. So, , a lot of times it is, we do have a lot of fun and sometimes we think some of these things are silly, but uh, there’s a lot of learning and um, a lot of improvement going on. , in these four walls.
Dr. Nate: 09:51 Does that mean they don’t have to put in any effort or work?
Edna: 09:55 No, I’m on the contrary. It just means that their focus is not so much on how hard it is, but the more fun they have, it just makes everything easier for them.
Dr. Nate: 10:07 Want me to put you on the spot?
Edna: 10:07 Sure. Why not?
Dr. Nate: 10:11 Of all the different types of patients that we see, what do you think is your favorite kind?
Edna: 10:17 That’s hard to say. I think the most memorable ones are the adults who have gone through a lot in their life and then all of a sudden something happens and then they are unable to function. They cannot drive, they cannot walk, they cannot ride a bicycle. Something happens and a life stops, for them until they come see us. And then through vision therapy and through practicing on their own, which these are highly motivated adults, their progress is so much quicker and I get to see from where they were, their tragedy or their traumatic experience changed your life, to now seeing them successfully be able to do the things that they enjoy that they couldn’t before they came to see us. So I think that’s, to me is the most rewarding.
Dr. Nate: 11:14 Anything else you want to tell people about vision, therapy, things you’ve learned over the last eight years?
Edna: 11:20 No. Two patients are alike and it’s , again, very rewarding to see that, especially me being here for this long now that I, enjoy seeing past patients who have completed vision therapy and has seen now, where they are in life. When I have seen patients who are six, seven, and eight, and now six years later they’re getting ready to drive or they’re getting ready to, you know, embark on different experiences. It’s just really cool to see sort of these little, what I call a “little, you know, chickens coming back to the hen house”, and showing off what they can do now. And their parents are beaming with pride in saying if it wasn’t for vision therapy, they are, they wouldn’t be. You know who they are today.
Dr. Nate: 12:12 All right, well thank you Edna for being our very first guests. You did a wonderful job. Several episodes of the brightest podcast are all going to be about vision therapy and I’m really looking forward to those episodes so everyone, stay tuned. You can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next time.
Outro: 12:35 Brought to you by bright eyes, family vision care, and bright eyes kids. Find previous episodes and more detailed information at http://Brighteyestampa.com, creative Commons, copyright attribution, non-commercial use. The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor experienced in the area you require. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment.
Intro/outro music: Lucas Warford of Three For Silver.