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Vision Development in Children

Here are some helpful resources to learn more about vision development:

  1. The infantSEE program is a national public health service where a doctor of optometry (OD) performs a no-cost vision assessment of babies between ages of 6-12 months of age. The infantSEE program has great information for parents on their website:
  2. The American Optometric Association (AOA) has guidelines for testing and treatment of our little pediatric patients. Do you know the first eye examination should take place between ages 6-12 months and the second at age 3? The AOA Parents Center is packed with information. To learn about vision from birth to age 24 months, visit AOA Infant Vision.
  3. To learn more about preschool vision development, visit AOA Preschool Vision
  4. Dr. Lynn Hellerstein, a personal friend and colleague blogged about her granddaughter Edina’s Visual development at each age and stage. This great series includes videos, milestones, and observations. Learn more here:
  5. All about Vision is a helpful website for families to learn more about children’s vision:

I also highly recommend the following book for parents:

Active Baby, Healthy Brain: 135 Fun Exercises and Activities to Maximize Your Child’s Brain Development from Birth Through Age 5 by Margaret Sassé

infantSEE talk 2020

What does a baby see?

25 fio infant vision 002


Symptoms of refractive errors vary per individual and may include: – headache – fatigue – eye strain – squinting – blurred or distorted images, up close and/or in the distance

My colleague Sarah Lane, OD, FCOVD has some great videos on helping your child’s sensory (sight, touch, balance, pressure, hearing) and motor (movement of the body) systems development here:

Up and Down

Side to Side

I have hands


  • Dr. Jen Simonson, April 2020

2022 Colorado COVD Study Group

Title: ABSees: Vision Therapy for Little Kids
Date: Sunday, March 13th, 2022
Time: 9:00am – 1:00pm

Bring: Bring your favorite activities for ages 0-5 and red/green glasses. Wear comfortable clothes for ease of movement. MASKS ARE REQUIRED, preferably well-fitting high-quality masks. Food: Potluck style! Bring a snack if you are able to. Nearby Food Truck park is also an option (Rayback Collective), which opens at Noon.

Course Summary: Guiding visual development with optometric vision therapy is an important tool for treating young children. The preschool age group often presents with amblyopia and strabismus, conditions that greatly impact visual performance and motor coordination. This course covers vision therapy techniques designed to decrease suppression, improve oculomotor skills, develop accurate accommodation, and improve eye alignment and sensory fusion. Learn how to modify therapy techniques for young children and how to successfully sequence vision therapy based on age and ability.

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We are planning on holding the COVD Study group as planned at Boulder Valley Vision Therapy, and we will do everything that we can to make this a safe and fun event for all attendees. We ask that if you have any COVID symptoms in the 5 days prior to the event, that you please stay home, even if you are feeling well enough to attend.

  1. Course handout: A B Sees Outline CO Study Group 2022
  2. Finger Tracing: PURSUITS Finger tracing portrait jss 2022
  3. MFBF Owls: NEAR FAR MFBF owls 2022
  4. Near Far Turtle Match: Near Far Match the Turtles 2022
  5. Near Far Owl Coloring: Owl Near Far Coloring
  6. Link to Sara Lane, OD, FCOVD activities:
  7. Link to Red Green Toybox:
  8. Pinterest ideas:
  11. Http://
  12. Activity resources







    8.Excellerations – I order from

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Building Blocks: Vision Therapy for Young Children

Building Blocks: Vision Therapy for Young Children

Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF)

Sunday, August 22, 2021 and Sunday, August 29, 2021

This is a 12-hour course spread over two subsequent Sundays 8-22 and 8-29

Course begins at 8 am Pacific, 9 am Mountain, 10 am Central, 11 am Eastern

with Dr. Jennifer Simonson



Learn about age-appropriate vision therapy procedures for preschool-aged patients from 3-6 years old. Discover procedures to build tracking, focusing, and binocular skills. Train on visually-guided gross motor coordination, fine motor skills, and visual information processing appropriate to the patient’s age and development. This course will cover optometric vision therapy for amblyopia and strabismus to decrease suppression and improve eye alignment and sensory fusion. Learn how to modify therapy techniques for young children and how to successfully sequence vision training.


Jennifer S. Simonson, OD, FCOVD is the clinical director of the Boulder Valley Vision Therapy Center in Boulder, CO. She achieved Fellowship in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) in 2006. Dr. Simonson was the recipient of the 2007 Colorado Young Optometrist of the Year Award. She is currently serving as the vice-chair of the International Examination and Certification Board (IECB) and is the Speaker Chair of the Colorado Vision Training Conference. Her primary interests in practice include pediatric vision care, vision therapy, sports therapy, and vision rehabilitation. Dr. Simonson is the author of several picture books for children about vision therapy.

OEPF Staff Contact Ms. Line Vreven

Event Type Over the Internet or Online

Link Registration

Signs a Child May Need Vision Therapy


Children are often not aware that they are experiencing vision challenges since they don’t have a point of reference for optimal functional vision. This makes regular comprehensive eye exams important for children as they approach and advance through classroom learning.

Misdiagnosis of visual challenges is also common, and these visual issues can look similar to the following ADHD symptoms:

  • Reading issues
  • Poor attention span in school
  • Frequent mistakes
  • Difficulty doing and completing schoolwork

The best way to determine if these academic challenges are due to visual issues is to see an optometrist who will assess how well the child’s eyes work together. Additionally, some individuals who have ADHD also have vision issues that can compound the ADHD symptoms when not addressed. This makes seeing an eye doctor important to fully understand if vision therapy can assist in alleviating some of the symptoms.

Symptoms that may indicate a need for vision therapy:

  • Skips words or lines when reading
  • Rubs eyes when reading or doing near work
  • Closes one eye with reading or near work
  • Holds reading material close to face or tilts head or paper
  • Sits close to the TV
  • Headaches from reading or homework
  • Good word reader, but poor reading comprehension
  • Poor handwriting
  • Blurred vision when transitioning from far to near vision
  • Homework takes a long time or is highly frustrating
  • Short attention span for schoolwork or reading

Colorado’s doctors of optometry recommend a comprehensive eye exam if a child is experiencing one or more of these symptoms. Early identification and intervention are key in preventing impact on school performance and student confidence. Vision therapy can also help avoid or improve outcomes of surgical intervention. If you think your child may need vision therapy, call us today!







2020 Eyes Colorado

2021 AOA Optometry’s Meeting: TBI Visual Evaluation and Management

AOA TBI Evaluation and Management 2021 Simonson




KDT Baseline Pocket Card

Course Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the impact of TBI on patients’ neurological and visual performance.
  2. Diagnose visual deficits related to TBI utilizing optometric testing including: oculomotor, eye alignment, accommodation, pupil function, contrast sensitivity, depth perception, and peripheral vision assessments.
  3. Develop management strategies for TBI-related vision disorders including the use of lenses, filters, prism, partial occlusion, and vision therapy rehabilitation.
  4. Know when to refer a TBI patient to other physicians and rehabilitation therapists.
  5. Educate patients on optometrist’s role in the prevention of further injury.
  6. Provide recommendations for appropriate accommodations to improve work and academic performance.

TBI Visual Evaluation and Management Outline:

  1. TBI is an acute brain injury resulting from mechanical energy to the head from external physical forces.
    1. TBI incidence in the US: 1.7 – 4 million (CDC, Journal of Neurology)
      1. falls (35%)
      2. motor vehicle-related injuries (17%)
      3. strikes or blows to the head from or against an object (17%), such as in sports injuries
    2. Neurology of the visual pathway
      1. diffuse axonal injury (DAI) has emerged as one of the most common and important pathological features of traumatic brain injury (TBI)
      2. diffuse axonal injury does not show up on scans.
    3. Effects of TBI on the visual system
      1. Areas of potential injury (pathways and lobes)
      2. Types of TBI
      3. Visual field defects and spatial inattention
      4. Post-traumatic vision syndrome
        1. Common symptoms
          • Headache (30 – 90%)
          • Dizziness
          • Light sensitivity
          • Blurred vision
          • Visual motion sensitivity
          • Sound (especially background noise) sensitivity
          • Insomnia
          • Mood alteration
          • Memory issues
        2. These intracellular responses are NOT directly correlated to severity of TBI
        3. Some people with mTBI can have more microtubule damage and post inflammatory damage than people who recovered from more severe TBI
        4. Diagnosis of TBI-related visual deficits (~90% of people with TBI have vision problem)

concussion infographic brain injury signs symptoms 450w






Expected Recovery Timeline

  1. Balance Recovery <7 days
  2. Symptom Scores 5-14 days
  3. Cognitive Recovery 7-21 days
  4. Oculomotor Recovery 21-28 days


    1. History BIVSS
      • photophobia
      • reduced concentration
      • Inattention
      • objects appear to move
      • balance and coordination issues
      • motion sickness
      • difficulty working under fluorescent lights
      • visual-perceptual motor dysfunction

Key questions to ask post-injury (Goodrich et al, 2013)

  1. What changes have you experienced in your vision?
  2. Are you light sensitive, in- or outdoors?
  3. Do you experience double vision?
  4. Have you noticed a change in your peripheral vision?
  5. Do you have blurred vision at distance or near?
  6. Has there been a change in reading?
  7. Do you lose place while reading?
  8. How long can you read before you need to take and break or stop?
  9. Do you experience Headaches?
  10. Do you have trouble remembering what you’ve read?

Emergent Visual Conditions

  • Flashes of light
  • Floaters in field of view
  • Restricted field of vision
  • “Curtains” billowing into field of view

Urgent Visual Conditions

  • Inability to completely close eyes
  • Difficulty moving or turning eyes
  • Pain with movement of the eyes
  • Pain in or around eyes
  • Wandering eye
  • Double vision

Vision Rehabilitation Conditions

  • Blurred vision for distance viewing / Blurred vision for near viewing
  • Slow shift of focus from near to far to near
  • Difficulty copying or taking notes
  • Pulling or tugging sensation around eyes / Discomfort while reading/ Eyes get tired while reading / Headaches while reading
  • Unable to sustain near work or reading for periods of time / General fatigue while work/reading
  • Covering, closing one eye
  • Loss of place while reading / Easily distracted when reading / Difficulty remembering what has been read
  • Decreased attention span / Reduced concentration ability

concussion infographic poster kids 450w

Post-concussion Vision Evaluation:

Pediatric post-concussion Check-list (CDC) Concussion Checklist Kids

Visual acuity, refractive status, oculomotility, accommodation, binocularity

Northeastern State University College of Optometry’s Oculomotor Test

VOMS: Vestibular/Ocular-Motor Screening VOMSExam

Ocular health

Visual field, visual neglect, egocentric localization (midline shift) BESSmanual

Visual Perceptual testing: Visual Figure-ground, Visual Closure, Visual Reaction Time, Visual Memory

Acute Concussion Evaluation Form

TBI Prevention, Education, and Outreach

Patient population: Athletes, Parents of children, Recreational activity participants


  1. Awareness, Risk assessment
  2. King-Devick Test
  3. Pre-season training protocols
  4. Vision screenings
  5. Sports training

Spectacle Prescription

    1. Small refractive errors often make a large difference
    2. Tinted lenses (Blue, grey; light and dark tints)
    3. Treating diplopia with lenses: low plus, prism, occlusion
    4. Field loss: Prism to increase field awareness
    5. Yoked prism

Environmental Accommodations

ACE_care_plan_school_version_a (1)


    1. Lighting
    2. Screens
      1. Reduction in screen time and near work often necessary
      2. Changing color spectrum and brightness
    3. Classroom and work accommodations: Classroom Accommodations Letter detailed
    4. Rehabilitation
      1. Vision therapy designed for patient’s diagnosis and goals
  • Are there any activities that you wish you could do?
  • What are your visual needs to return to school, your sport or work?
  • What are your recovery goals?

Visual-vestibular therapy often required

Specialized therapy for visual inattention and other visual processing deficits

concussion infographic children safe from brain injury 450w

General Reading References:

  2. Review of Optometry, “Save a Life, Neuro-Optometry Primer: The Brain” by Mario Gutierrez, OD, FAAO.
  6. Vision Therapy for Post-Concussion Vision Disorders. Gallaway, M, et al. Optometry & Vision Science: Jan 2017 – Vol 94 – Issue 1 – p. 68-73 .
  7. A Review of the Current Practice in Diagnosis and Management of Visual Complaints Associated with Concussion and Post concussion Syndrome. Heinmiller, L and Gunton, K. Curr Opin Ophthalmol 2016; 27(5): 407-412.
  8. Current and Emerging Rehabilitation for Concussion: A Review of the Evidence. Broglio, S, et al. Clin Sports Med 2015 April; 34 (2): 213-231.
  9. Concurrent Vision Dysfunctions in Convergence Insufficiency with Traumatic Brain Injury. Alvarez, T, et al. Optom Vis Sci. 2012 December: 89 (12)


    1. Mucha A, Collins MW, Elbin RJ, Furman JM, Troutman-Enseki C, DeWolf RM, Marchetti G, Kontos AP. A brief vestibular and ocular motor screening (VOMS) assessment to evaluate preliminary concussion: Preliminary findings. Am J Sports Med; in press.Form Sources: Instruction Set
    2. Anzalone AJ, Blueitt D, Case T, McGuffin T, Pollard K, Garrison JC, Jones MT, Pavur R, Turner S, Oliver JM. A positive Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS) is associated with increased recovery time after sports-related concussion in youth and adolescent athletes. AJSM 2017;45(2)474-479
    3. Yorke AM, Smith L, Babcock M, Alsalaheen B. Validity and reliability of the Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening and associations with common concussion screening tools. Sports Health. 2017;9(2): 174-180.
    4. The King-Devick Test:
    5. NSUCO-Oculomotor-Test Instruction SetNorms for Oculomotor Skills: Pursuits and Saccades:
    1. Tests for Neglect/Unilateral Spatial Inattention:
    2. amsler-grid
    1. Visual Vertigo
    2. Balance Error Scoring System manual
    3. BIVSS Symptom Assessment: BIVSS_clinicalBrain_Injury_Vision_Symptom_Survey__BIVSS_.98478_08.2016
  4. BINOCULAR (Sensory Fusion/Motor Alignment)
    1. Worth 4 Dot W4D results
    2. Bagolini Lens Bagolini Test Responses


  1. Neuro-optometric Rehabilitation Association:
  2. Vision Training can decrease concussions:
  3. Collins M, Kontos A, Okonkwo D. et al. Statements of Agreement from the Targeted Evaluation and Active Management (TEAM) Approaches to Treating Concussion .Neurosurgery. Dec 2016;79(6):912-929.
  4. Katz BJ, Digre KB. Diagnosis, pathophysiology, and treatment of photophobia. Surv Ophth. 2016;61:466-477