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Vision therapy helping correct poor vision

DENVER — Many parents don’t know what to do when their child has 20/20 vision, but still complains of headaches and just can’t seem to track words across the page when reading .

Many parents are now turning to vision therapy, a series of eye exercises that studies show can be helpful for some conditions.

Macey Webber is one of those people who says vision therapy works for her.  The 14-year-old from Jefferson County used to have double vision and would get terrible headaches, especially from reading.

Her mother, Carol, knew something was wrong and took her to Hellerstein and Brenner Vision Center in Centennial.

After a series of eye exams Macey was diagnosed with something called convergence insufficiencies, and her eyes have a hard time following  an object getting closer to her.

“We can teach somebody how to coordinate their eyes better,” said Lynn Hellerstein, a doctor of Optometry.

She put Macey through a series of exercises.  Some are very high tech involving things like 3D glasses.  Others are pretty basic, using things like beads and rope.

Macey goes to therapy once a week and has exercises she works on at home.  She and her mother say the therapy has made a dramatic improvement.

“She doesn’t complain of headaches.  She can read a lot faster,” said Carol Webber, Macey’s mom.

Many times vision therapy is not covered by insurance, and the Webbers are paying about $600 per month.

“It’s worth every penny,” Carol said.

But doctors at the University of Colorado School of Medicine say families don’t need to spend a lot of money for convergence exercises.

“We prescribe them here, and we treat them for free,” said Dr. Emily McCourt, a Pediatric Ophthalmologist who works at Children’s Hospital.

While studies show convergence exercises are effective, she says many other forms of vision therapy do not have solid scientific backing.  Those include therapies for hand-eye-coordination, near sightedness or cross eyes, she said.

“For those other indications, because there’s no science behind it, I really can’t advocate for that at all.  I feel like if you’ve been advised to do that, you should get a second opinion,” Dr.  McCourt said.

As for the Webber family, they just know their vision therapy is working.