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Posted on 11-18-2015
I am often contacted through this website with questions about vision problems. I try to answer people's questions personally whenever possible - sometimes in written form, sometimes over the phone. I thought it might be useful to share some of these exchanges from time to time. So here is the first installment of my new segment: I've Got Mail...
Dear Dr. Gallop,
I have been searching for quite some time to find a doctor who is not merely content to increase the strength of my nine year old son’s glasses. His father and I are both nearsighted. During our research my husband came to the conclusion that one should probably not be wearing full distance glasses for activities like reading, homework, the computer, etc. We have taken our son to several optometrists and most recently an ophthalmologist. All say basically the same thing: He needs stronger glasses again. Your website makes us think that you might have a different approach. We are very sour on optometrists at this point, but are interested in what you have to say.
I look forward to speaking with you.
I fully understand your frustration. One thing you need to know is that most optometrists, and almost all ophthalmologists hold similar philosophies when it comes to measuring and prescribing lenses. To these doctors it is simply a matter of finding the lens that makes the 20/20 line on the distance eye chart clear. I will tell you that there is much more to seeing, or as I prefer to talk about it - the visual process - than seeing clearly across a room. Knowing this makes my evaluation much different, and my resulting recommendations very different than what you will find in most other practices.
I have made a point of learning from those with other viewpoints. My decades of experience as a patient, a therapist and a doctor have enabled me to develop a more nuanced, individualized approach. Most doctors are comfortable with the typical progression/worsening that so many nearsighted people experience over time. In fact, this progression is essentially expected, at least for some number of years until, for an as yet unexplained reason, it stops. And I was one of these patients for many years. Various doctors were quite satisfied with increasing my prescription year after year (if not more often). My prescription finally stopped increasing when I became my own optometrist. And I have helped many people slow, reverse or eliminate nearsightedness.
What you really need is to find a behavioral optometrist who will do a more thorough evaluation of your son’s visual process and development. You need someone who looks at things differently. Many behavioral optometrists have a more well-rounded perspective and are more inclined to want to slow down, reverse or stop nearsightedness. One reason that behavioral optometrists do things differently when it comes to nearsightedness is that we understand that there is much more to the visual process than just seeing clearly in the distance. It is likely that anyone who is nearsighted also has issues with eye teaming, focusing and tracking accuracy. I have had very good success incorporating this knowledge over the years. Lenses alone are often not enough. Vision therapy is commonly used to treat vision problems more thoroughly.
I hope this helps you begin to get a better understanding of your son’s situation and the different options available. Please feel free to call me for an appointment, or click here to find a more conveniently located behavioral optometrist to help you.
Very truly yours,
Steve Gallop, OD
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