News / Calgary

Calgary optometrist helps struggling kids connect eyes and brain with vision therapy

Dr. Neufeld, an optometrist with a special interest in vision training encourages parents to watch for vision processing issues in their children

Dr. Brent Neufeld has helped 12-year-old Kai Lowthry be able to connect his eyes and brain—ridding him of headaches and frustration, and opening new educational and physical doors.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Dr. Brent Neufeld has helped 12-year-old Kai Lowthry be able to connect his eyes and brain—ridding him of headaches and frustration, and opening new educational and physical doors.

Dawn Lowthry has seen a complete change in her son Kai over the last year—something she’s attributing to vision therapy.

October is Children’s Vision Month, and has a Calgary optometrists calling for parents to make sure their children get their annual eye-test, but also reminding them that sometimes more vision related work is required to help a struggling child.

Lowthry said Kai, who was 11 at the time, was struggling at school, so they went for psycho-educational assessment and were refereed to an optometrist after the assessor saw gaps she thought might be related to visual processing challenges.

Lowthry and Kai had been referred to Calgary Vision Therapy’s Dr. Brent Neufeld, an optometrist with a special interest in vision training and vision development. 

“Sure enough he had quite a few gaps,” said Lowthry . “He wasn’t reading at his designated grade level, he was having headaches and getting frustrated with reading and writing—all because his eyes weren’t working the way they should be.”

Neufeld said kids who are struggling with reading, who have a hard time tracking along lines of text, who experience words that jump and move on the page, who have a hard time focusing from one thing to another (like their desk and the whiteboard), or experience headaches and dizziness are likely experiencing visual processing challenges, too.

“There are individuals during the regular screening who appear to have adequate skills,” he said. “But when they have to do a cognitive task or a movement task it shows they have to use so much of their thought pattern to try and control their eye movements.”

After a series of weekly therapy, Lowthry saw a big change in Kai. 

“He’s a new little boy,” she said. “He doesn’t get headaches anymore and actually enjoys reading.”

Neufeld said it’s not only important to have your child’s eyes checked by an optometrist annually, but said there are also other skills that should be checked for.

Neufeld said often time kids with these issues go undiagnosed, or are diagnosed as suffering from ADD or ADHD and are medicated—even though it can be treated without.

“They could be misdiagnosed or labeled as lazy and it’s really not their fault, so having that regular eye check is crucial,” he said.

Metro Savers