Orthoptic Visual Processing Difficulties (VPD) Clinical Advisory Group
CAG Lead: Kathryn Whitfield, Advanced Orthoptist and Lead of the Orthoptic Visual Processing Difficulties Service Warrington and Halton Hospitals
What is Visual Processing?
It is the brain’s ability to process and interpret what the eyes see. It includes how the eyes work together (binocular vision), tracking of the eyes whilst reading, making fast eye movements, visual comfort and the perceptual aspects of vision. When a child or an adult has difficulties with visual processing this can produce signs and symptoms and they may be referred to an orthoptist who specialises in this area.
The VPD CAG is a team of highly skilled Orthoptists with a special interest in children who are struggling to access the school curriculum because of treatable visual processing difficulties.
Signs and symptoms of visual processing difficulties
Visual processing difficulties that affect reading can be identified in a child (over 7 years) or adult who either does not require glasses and has some or all of the following difficulties or still has these following difficulties despite wearing their glasses:
Following reading do you or your child notice any of the following?
- Frowning, scowling or screwing eyes up with visual tasks
- Blurry vision at any time
- Print jumbling or merging together
- Seeing double
- Holding books too closely or too far away.
- Tilting of the head
- Poor posture/ wriggling at desk
- Moving head excessively or forwards or backwards while looking at the page
- Red eyes or lids
- Pain around the eyes
- Headaches, especially around the front of the head
- Excessive eye watering
- Rubbing eyes frequently
- Closing or covering one or both eyes in bright light or during visual tasks
- Repeatedly confusing right / left directions
- Skipping or re-reading words or letters
- Reversals when reading e.g. was/saw, on/no, b/d, p,q
- Transposing letters when writing
- Losing place frequently when reading
- Uses finger as a marker when reading
- Repeatedly missing ‘small’ words
- Getting confused by symbols such as + /-
- Mistaking words with the same or similar beginnings or endings
- Failing to recognise the same word in the next sentence
- Confusing the same word in the same sentence
- Struggling to remember sequences
- Struggling to copy from the board
If there are a few sections that you or your child have difficulties with and the child is over the age of approximately 7 years (as some of these difficulties are normal for younger children) then we would suggest an Orthoptic assessment. It is important that an Orthoptist be involved in the assessment of these difficulties as we are specialists in assessing binocular vision and eye movements.
- Determine visual problems relating to reading and writing skills
- Manage the visual processing difficulties in a child or young person centred way.
- Offer support to parents and teachers
- Offer advice and guidance to schools, Colleges and Universities.
How do I get to see a specialist orthoptist?
We are creating a map of services that offer assessment and treatment for visual processing difficulties – this will be available soon. In the meantime please do contact us and we will be happy to put you in touch with an NHS hospital department near to you with an Orthoptist or team of Orthoptists who will be able to assess, diagnose and treat visual processing difficulties.