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Exotropia Seminar

TVTO Continuing Education  |  February 2019  |  Exotropia Seminar   

Report by Maxine Jelilyan

Dr. Eryou has always been an advocate of ongoing education and I’ve had the pleasure of taking many courses and seminars because of her generosity. She is also on the board of directors of the COVT&R, in charge of continuing education and has hosted several world-wide webinars on various topics related to vision therapy.

This past February, 2019, Dr. April and I attended The Exotropia Seminar, among other things, to help our patients to learn to have voluntary control of their visual system.

The following definition was given which really struck a chord:

“Vision Therapy exploits value, the continuum between exploration and expectation, and visually-directed action in novel settings to expand and enhance human freedom, creativity and performance in the new worlds, including in the three-dimensional world of aligned eyes.”

The course was instructed by Dr. David Cook, O.D., who flew in from Marietta Georgia to teach this strabismus seminar. His seminars are known to audiences in Canada, New Zealand, and across the United States. He has limited his optometry practice to vision therapy for over 35 years and is a pioneer in using 3D movies in strabismus treatment. He is an OEP associate, a fellow in COVD, and a diplomate in binocular vision and perception in the American Academy of Optometry. He served on the COVD International Exam Board for six years. His book Visual Fitness, published by Berkeley Books, appeared in English, Polish and Russian. His article “Eyesight, Infinity, and the Human Heart,” won the optometric editor’s award. His book When Your Child Struggles has helped thousands of patients to receive care in vision therapy practices across the United States.

Dr. Eryou and I were thrilled to be in the company of about 50 other optometrists and vision therapists who came from across Canada to attend this 2-day seminar. In it we learned about language “holes” (i.e. you can’t know how to describe something that you’ve never experienced so there might be communication gaps or “holes”). Learning about this concept helped us to understand that how we communicate with our patients can make or break the experience for them. For example, if the patient tries to describe what they are seeing in terms that are different than what we expect, we might misinterpret their statements by applying them to our own mode of seeing instead of theirs. We can’t see out of their eyes, so how can we better communicate with them to help them to understand what we’re trying to teach? We discussed, at length, Convergence Insufficiency, which is the reduced ability of the eyes to turn toward each other when looking near – a condition that can make reading really challenging because the eyes struggle to converge up close. Do you know any smart kids who have trouble reading, or who avoid it at all costs? Maybe this is their situation… and we learned many exercises to help someone with this condition, better use their eyes to help overcome this issue. We also learned a lot of techniques to help patients with Divergence Excess using vectograms and focussing on “how much of the room can you be aware of” while looking at an object across the room and working on “alignment with thinking” and integrating your peripheral and central vision.

In the end we came back to the clinic armed with many more techniques to help our patients navigate successfully through their vision therapy sessions, and language to make sure we were all communicating effectively and on the same level. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this seminar and am using many of these techniques on a daily basis.