In the 1970s Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus formed a committee called “The relationship of vision to school achievement.” The committee consisted of an opthamologist, school nurse, optometrist, psychologist and statistician. I was the optometrist.
The medical duo saw no difference between reading the blackboard at 20 feet and reading at 16 inches. My position was that two exams must be done — at 20 feet and at 16 inches. I proposed testing the bottom 25 percent of each class by a vision specialist who does two exams. The cost would be compared to money saved in teaching and the sequence for poor readers of remedial reading, dropping out, committing petty crime, going to prison and recidivism. The committee disbanded after two deadlocked meetings.
I will use two patients to support my viewpoint.
Case No. 1: Charles, fourth grade, good son and student. Loved reading and school and then everything changed.
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Mother got physical exam, optometric exam (no testing at 16 inches). The decline accelerated, the testing was repeated. Then they came to me. Charles’ sight was 20/20 but when I tested at 16 inches, visual stress was apparent, focusing and pointing functions must coordinate. This is the basis of visual stress.
I prescribed lenses to lessen demand on the focusing system.
When Charles returned for his 30-day progress report, his mother was ecstatic. “He’s my boy again,” she gushed. When I asked Charles how his glasses helped, he said, “In my brain it makes more sense.”
Case No. 2: Mother, father and sixth-grader come to office, they have just left opthalmologist office one block away. They are distraught. Father has a prescription form in his hand that says 20/20 vision, diagnosis: specific dyslexia.
Fact: There is no 20/20 vision — 20/20 is a measurement of acuity only.
Webster’s defines vision as the process of identifying and understanding what the eye sees, and preparing a response.
Fact: Specific dyslexia is a label like ADHD, not a diagnosis.
From observing the boy’s behavior when reading, the parents knew it was a vision problem. They would not accept the exam at 20 feet. The success with Charles was duplicated.
In 2008 my wife and I flew to Phoenix to be treated at Dr. Edward Kondrot’s holistic medicine clinic.
Ed had practiced ophthalmology for 20 years. Then he went to India to get a homeopathic M.D. before opening his clinic. Ed had a one-hour radio show. In 2010 and 2012 I was a guest.
Before the second show I found on the Internet a seminar for ophthalmologists, “accommodative and convergence insufficiency.” Five minutes into the seminar one doctor arose and said: “My opinion of ophthalmology is that it is medicine and surgery. This subject is outside our field.” A second doctor then said to the first: “I agree with you. Visual specialists use terms with which we are not even familiar.”
Dr. Kondrot said ophthamologists are taught that children do not have accommodation problems.
In my book “Why Kids With ‘Good Eyes’ Get Bad Grades and Kids With ‘Bad Eyes’ Get Good Grades,” I said that “different training between professions and schools create a vision care jungle.”
I said that you have to ask your vision specialist two questions.
1.) Do you do two exams? One at 20 feet and one at 16 inches?
2.) Do you prescribe lenses to be worn at school and when reading at home, including bifocal lenses when needed?
The answer to both questions must be “yes” to ensure your child’s learning is not being affected by a visual problem.
A.N. (Art) Bonde, O.D., of Boise, practiced optometry for 20 years in Idaho.