Binocular Vision Therapy

Related page: Advice about Dyslexia

Parent Q&A

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  • Vision therapy office for teenager?

    (1 reply)

    Hi — I am looking for a good/great vision therapy office for my teenager…

    Preferably one that uses a PC-based at-home programs for the exercises…

    Preferably with an office in Berkeley (or nearby), Marin county or Petaluma, or San Francisco.

    Thank you!

    Hi there, have you looked into UC Berkeley's Binocular Vision Clinic? My 9 year old daughter graduated from their program. They assigned her weekly eye exercises and after 16 weeks, she showed much improvement. 

  • Hello Experienced Parents,

    My 6yo 1st grade daughter was assessed at UCB Optometry & found to have several things including exophoria (eyes may drift differently), vergence infacility (problems with the eye teaming system), farsightedness, things up close bring blurred, spatial planning & tracking difficulty, etc! It was recommended that she get progressive lenses & return for an “abbreviated visual perceptual skills assessment” for possible vision therapy. Problem is I found the supervising optometrist a little difficult to communicate with in-person plus extremely hard to reach by phone or email through their email system (she still hasn’t answered my follow up questions 2-3 weeks later). Has anyone else dealt with this & found another better place to complete a visual perceptual skills assessment? (And if you have experience with a full assessment for learning problems including dyslexia, dyscalculia & inattention - do you know if any of the visual perceptual tests fall into a more comprehensive assessment?) I think vision is a part of her challenge but not all of it & I want to get a very good learning disability assessment beyond vision down the road (before a school district one), so any recommendations or advice about that would also be welcome. Thank you!

    - M

    We had the supervisor Mark Wu at the UCB eye clinic and thought he was great.  We saw Carina Grandison for learning assessment and thought she was great.

    We had a good experience with the vision therapy at UCB Optometry, and also had some testing done there. We had the full testing done through the UC Psych Dept -- (twice at different ages) -- it was helpful, and I thought the grad students did a good job of understanding how to establish the 504 set-up for a child who was both highly gifted and with significant learning differences. My suggestion is to go ahead and get the testing done for the vision therapy, because it can be very helpful.

  • Vision Therapy - effective?

    (5 replies)

    We recently had our daughter assessed at UC Berkeley’s Binocular Vision Clinic. They are recommending vision therapy.  

    Our daughter has visual processing issues, learning disabilities and behavior challenges.  Does anyone have experience with vision therapy and if so was it helpful for addressing any of the above? 

    Most unfortunately, vision therapy is not covered by insurance and we are already stretched financially paying for other services, so we are trying to get some feedback from parents on efficacy.  

    Thanks for any info! 

    Our dd received VT privately, and we paid out of pocket. As parents of a dyslexic student, we found it to be very valuable and worth the money in terms of the improvement in her ability to read effectively. But it is definitely a commitment, and she will need to do the exercises everyday for it to be effective. It was a stretch for us too, the costs of help for LD kids is a whole other conversation. We did not do it at UC (though she was also seen there), but rather through Dr. Susan Kim @ Visualeyes Optometry in Dublin, who we highly recommend.

    I sadly do not have any input but just reaching out that you are not alone and I am eagerly awaiting any responses, we are in the same boat. :(

    We did also see a pediatric optholmologist which complicates things further in that they disagree with the recommendation of vision therapy (recommended by a functional optometrist) but cannot order an explanation of why my 7 year old daughter is seeing double. The therapy is very expensive and as you said not generally covered by insurance, our pediatrician cautioned us as there is not much evidence and I’ve heard both very positive and negative feedback about therapy from other families I have talked with. I don’t know the issues you are struggling with but we have found a slant board and a reading guide have helped some. 

    Wishing your family all the best.

    Hi there. My daughter just started vision therapy there. It was recommended to help with an underdeveloped focusing, teaming (vergance), and tracking system -- not sure if these are considered visual processing issues? She is performing at grade level academically and has no behavior challenges. She was having trouble focusing on reading after about 20 minutes, was getting headaches and blurred vision. We also got her glasses that have helped with the tired eyes. The doctor still recommended vision therapy because her teaming skills are so low and as school requires more and more reading, her issues will compound in time.

    So, short answer, I don't yet know if it will make a difference. But I hope to know in a few weeks time after she's had a few sessions. If you send me a private message, I would be happy to share feedback at that time. It is an investment for sure!

    Hi, you did not say how old is your daughter. We did about half of the recommended visual therapy sessions (12) when our son was finishing first grade. He went to Rising Star optometry in San Rafael. It was expensive and not covered by our insurance. We diligently did all the exercises at home, including the very old fashioned computer games from the disk the office gave us. Ultimately, I came to conclusion that even though our son did loose the place where he was reading and had some “tracking” issues his main challenges were due to inability to decode anything, and not due to the eye strain. In his case, only 2 summers of very intense Lindamood-Bell training of 4 hours a day 5 days a week for about 6 weeks each finally enabled him to memorize enough sound patterns and about 800 most common sight words to begin to really read by age 10!!! Wishing you and your daughter the best of luck

    We did this for my daughter through UC when she was in third grade.  She had tracking problems and very slow processing (learning disability),.  She had fatigue after school, and a very hard time reading, because she couldn't move her eye smoothly to the next word.   So she literally couldn't see the words.  It helped.  It did not speed up her processing speed that I could tell.  She did become a better reader and less fatigued and improved her self image.

  • Vision Therapy for 8 year old?

    (5 replies)

    Has anyone done Vision Therapy thru Berkeley Biopic clinic? And did they find it helpful for their child? I also heard about a place called Visual Eyes in Pleasanton that has a pretty intensive program where you go 18 sessions. I'd love to hear any experiences. My son has dyslexia but most t's mostly the visual tracking and ocular motility that seems to be hard. Look forward to others experience. 

    Our son did vision therapy with Dr. Grisham in San Rafael. (  Dr. Grisham used to lead the binocular vision clinic at Cal.

    The therapy did help a lot. They do a number of tests, and show you exactly what they want to accomplish, and then re-test to measure progress.  Definitely worth doing, and doing now while he is younger. 

    The issues are not things that show up on a standard eye chart test, and things you would not necessarily notice, but can affect school performance.

    My son started vision therapy at at the Berkeley clinic, but then quit.  I found that they always ran late and the sessions were quite long since they were conducted by students who then had to refer to a senior person at the end.  On the advice of my son's occupational therapist, I took him to Rising Star Optometry in San Rafael.   They were much better.  They also have a San Francisco office.  My son was treated for convergence and tracking issues.  We completed 14 sessions.  The difference in his reading ability at the end of the sessions was phenomenal and made it worth the weekly drive to San Rafael.

    Speaking as a retired teacher at Kensington Elementary School, I can tell you the UC Berkeley Binocular Vision Clinic was ALWAYS my first ally in helping children and parents deal with dyslexia/tracking problems. It's a real godsend because it works! They raise the children's self esteem because the kids know "it's not my fault" and there is something they can do at home to help themselves. I cannot recommend it any higher.

    I have heard that the Binocular Clinic at UC Berkeley has been great for visual tracking issues. I would address this sooner rather then later.


    We have been to the UC Berkeley clinic for binocular vision and also  Walnut Creek Optometry (Dr. Bach-Kim). Hands down we found Walnut Creek more helpful and less time consuming. UCB had a lot more in-person sessions where our daughter was clearly a patient for students to practice on. I felt maybe 25% of the time was useful and the rest practice for them. 

    Dr. Bach-Kim helped our first daughter enormously and our second (who we believe is dyslexic) also.

    Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Binocular Vision Test for 6 year old?

March 2009

Has anyone taken their child to UC Berkeley's School of Optometry for a Binocular Vision Test recently? Planning to take my 6yr old daughter there. Her school had a doctor from UC Berkeley who did the eye exam and had mentioned about Binocular Vision. I've taken her to my regular eye doctor, who said she was fine. She's not doing academically well in school, so trying to see if there's any relation in vision. I took her to the doctor and was diagnosed with ADD, just by the questionnaire completed by the parent and her 1st grade teacher. That's it? Just by a questionnaire? Does anyone know what other tests there to test her? I'm not sure what direction I should start looking into. I've written an email to her principal to see if the school psychologist can give her a test. My daughter now freaks out when you tell her to do homework and hates school. She use to love preschool & most of Kindergarten. Sylvia

My son was also referred to have the binocular vision testing done when he was about 6. His teachers at school suggested he be evaluated because he wasn't doing well academically. The binocular vision testing was part of a larger diagnostic work up (he was ultimately diagnosed with ADD).

The binocular vision testing is very thorough and somewhat exhaustive at UCB, and they have a pleasant manner. The multiple tests look for any problems with visual perception. My son tolerated the tests well, as UCB works well with kids. Good luck

I took my daughter to the UCB Binocular Vision Clinic two years ago. I was very impressed with the process and the recommendation they made. My daughter is a good student who's a terrible speller. They found her to be perfectly normal with no vision or attention issues. I also took her to the Linda Moode Belle center in Berkeley. It was probably overkill but I felt like I had dotted the i's and crossed the t's when I had both opinions. Best of luck to you

My son, age 10, just finished testing at UC Binocular Vision. They found all of the same issues his ed therapist had found. We are in the process of getting testing done through the school district. Once we have that report we'll go back to UC to begin therapy. The supervising professor at UC encouraged us to wait so that we wouldn't have to pay for them to do certain tests or initiate therapies that would be done/included by the school. Unfortunately that clinic is incredibly busy... we had to wait more than two months to get in initially, and had basically no choice with regard to day or time. Also, this is the second time we've gone through testing there. The first time was three years ago and the results were ''normal'' however I got the impression from the professor we worked with this time that the screening done on the weekend (when we went) is less thorough than that done on the weekdays. Perhaps some of his issues would have been caught sooner if we'd done screening on a different day, but honestly I think he was too young then for any of the screening to be effective. There is a huge range of what is developmentally normal at 5,6 and 7. It's just really hard to tell if there is a learning disability or if the problem is attention, or if the kid just isn't ready yet, but will be in six months. My son was within normal ranges for almost all of the tests he did, including those with an audiologist and testing done by a private ed psychologist... it wasn't until late in second grade that we were able to get any real diagnosis from any testing.

As for ADD... it is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed using no other measures than a survey. Sometimes if it is done by a school psychologist the child is also observed in class. I've spoken to one who recommends brain scans, though I haven't had a chance to persue how one would get that done. We waited about two years to do anything about our son's diagnosis... it seemed arbitrary at the time, borderline at best. The psychologist who presented the results had no credibility since she couldn't even read the graph to us correctly... So we decided to wait and see. This year it became obvious that the other kids aren't ''just like him''. It was impacting him socially and acadmically and really hurting his self esteem, and since we'd tried addressing evey other issue we decided to start medication... it has made a world of difference already and we aren't even through experimenting wiht dosage to see what is best. Still trying to figure it out

I took my son to the binocular vision clinic, where they found trouble with his horizontal tracking. We worked with a piece of software, and over a period of a few months, his tracking became much better, and his reading improved quite a bit. Shortly thereafter, he began to enjoy to read. I don't know how much of that was him developing, and how much of that was the help with tracking -- but it certainly didn't hurt, and it wasn't that expensive.

With regard to ADD, just a couple of questionnaires seems like an incomplete diagnosis. That would work as a screening test -- saying that your child needed further evaluation, but not as a complete diagnostic tool. It seems like you might want to consult with a developmental pediatrician, developmental psychologist, and/or the school psychology team at your school (you can get an evaluation through your public school by formally requesting it, and I believe it must occur within 60 days of the request). They usually do a very thorough testing of your child, including IQ tests, academic tests, classroom observations, as well as questionnaires.

In terms of your child hating school, some of it may be a mismatch between how she learns and the teacher. You might want to do some talking to other parents who have spent time in the classroom to see if there's been any friction between your child and this teacher. My child had trouble with the teacher in one particular grade, and it was a total nightmare, for him and me. Since then, however, he has done very well, loved school and the teachers, and all has been well. Karen


Vision therapy for dyslexic child?

March 2005

We are looking into getting an evaluation at UCB's Binocular Vision Clinic. We suspect our child may have dyslexia (mainly because of spelling), but are not looking to vision therapy as a ''cure'', just to confirm that eyes are working together, etc. Our child reads pretty well, but will sometimes leave out small words or leaves the plural or past tense endings off of words. There was a recent complaint about headaches when looking through binoculars or scopes. Does anyone have any experience with vision therapy at all or with dyslexic children? I know if one is going to consider this it is important that the test are ''near-point vision tests'', but there seems to be a big difference in the amount of therapy the university clinic suggests if the child needs it (six 45 minute sessions -more could be added), to 30 - 40 sessions on average and from the beginning with private developmental optometrists. Am I comparing apples to oranges? I recently read a report by the Academy of Pediatrics about vision therapy in relation to dyslexia. It essentially just said it was not a cure for it. Is it detrimental in any way for a dyslexic to undergo this type of therapy? Any experience with vision therapy and UCB's Binocular Vision Clinic/ suggestions helpful. Thanks. Concerned Parent

To the parent who posted a message about Vision Therapy/Dyslexia:

I took my dyslexic son to UCB's Vision center for 2-sessions. They noted that he did have some problems with binocular vision and we worked on the ''eye-excercises'' for awhile. It did not really have an effect, positive or negative, on his vision in general or help with any aspect of his dyslexia.

We have him at Raskob Day School for LD students in Oakland and he has made the most progress ever, there. We also pay for an educational therapist to help him with reading and writing. These two things alone have made a big difference and great improvement with his reading and writing. He is still somewhat behind, but enjoys reading and has progressed from building sentences and paragraphs to building reports. He still needs help with writing organization and continues to have problems with dysgraphia but it is getting better. We felt that it was important to keep his self-esteem intact so we worked with him as much as possible to find things he wanted to read: comic books, graphic novels, and since he is into video games-related magazines and books. He is happy and considers reading a hobby! Proud Mother of a Dyslexic

Hi, I am a special educator with many years of experience diagnosing reading disabilities. Since you don't say how old your child is, I can't tell you what your child should be doing at his/her age. But, what you are describing - leaving out a few words or omitting word endings a) isn't dyslexia and b) isn't that unusual for younger children.

Dyslexia is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, decoding (sounding words out) and spelling. A person who has dyslexia has difficulty with phonological awareness - that's the awareness that a word is made up of different sounds. Like -cat- - its different sounds are C - A - and T. In order to sound out the word -cat,- you have to be able to break it down into its separate sounds and then put it back together as one sound (and then realize that the combined sounds form a word that has meaning - all that for such a simple 3 letter word!). Generally, people with dyslexia do not learn to read unless they have had training in phonological awareness and reading instruction that is multisensory.

Since you know that your child is omitting words and errors, I am assuming that s/he is reading aloud to you (which is GREAT and should be encouraged as much as possible). Reading itself is a complicated process of recognizing sounds or words and then assigning meaning to each word (and remembering the word you just read while you are reading another word and then ascertaining the meaning of a string of words?). In addition to all of that, reading ALOUD requires that the reader read the current word and say it out loud while simultaneously looking ahead to other words. The looking ahead often causes the reader to skip a word or a string of words, especially when the reader is still learning to read aloud. Having to say the word also impacts the reader's fluency.

The next time your child makes an omission while reading to you, gently offer a correction (and ask that it be reread correctly). Continue on this way until the reading is over, and then have a discussion about what kinds of things you notice about his/her reading. The discussion should be mostly positive but can also be constructive. You want to keep your child reading to you so avoid being overly critical. Also, try and ascertain if your child is aware of these omissions and if they interfere with comprehension.

If you still think your child has a reading disability, then discuss it with his/her teacher to determine if s/he should be evaluated. As for the vision therapy, you need first to determine if there really is a problem with your child's reading before you embark on anything corrective. shari

I am a school and clinical psychologist, and I have assessed hundreds of children with reading disabilities. I have worked with children who, indeed, have been through UCB's Binocular Vision Clinic. What parents typically have reported to me is that the treatment (eye exercises) are successful in improving the degree to which the eyes move in conjunction with one another and that this results in less fatigue and somewhat more efficiency during reading. In general, parents have been pleased with the experience there. I also have spoken with educational therapists who sing the praises of Dr. Grisham, who heads up the clinic there(I have not personally worked with him). You are right though that the eye exercises are not a ''cure'' for dyslexia. Most of the children I see have had the treatment several years earlier and are still struggling with reading, hence the evaluation by me to determine how they are processing and what might be the best course for tutoring or other interventions. Alisa

My child had excellent results at the binocular vision clinic -- and her reading really took off after the vision training. In her case, she had phonemic awareness type skills, was very aware of sounds, had interest in stories, and the patience to practice, but I realized that she wasn't reading as well as you'd expect for a kid who knew as much about language as she did (She was at grade level in second grade, but her contextual reading skills were much better than her decoding skills.) It did turn out to be a visual process problem, and she also has some fine motor problems as well. Obviously, vision therapy doesn't solve everything, but it is a good place to start. Also, the clinic is not like a private therapist -- they don't need your ''business,'' so there is no motivation for keeping your child in therapy any longer than they need to be there. Once my child tested as in the normal range the therapy was over, though we are on a schedule of six-month follow-ups to make sure the training is holding. Now, about 8 months after the end of the training, her reading is fluent -- she reads the newspaper and whatever else of ours catches her interest(an article on urban play-spaces from a professional journal that was on the kitchen table.) Reading difficulties are very complex, and you need to be aware of your child's strengths and weaknesses -- in many ways you are the expert, and you are hiring other people for technical assistance. So, the therapy is expensive (as is the kit), but if your child needs it, vision therapy at least as performed at the binocular vision clinic, is invaluable. parent of a reader