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What This Connecticut Practice Learned During the Pandemic That’s Revolutionized Their Vision Therapy Offerings

Turns out a home setting can be ideal if everyone’s invested in the treatment’s success.

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What This Connecticut Practice Learned During the Pandemic That’s Revolutionized Their Vision Therapy Offerings

WHEN THE PANDEMIC made it impossible for Dr. Juanita Collier and her team at 4D Vision Gym in Cheshire, CT, to offer in-person vision therapy for a few months, they switched to virtual appointments. They soon discovered that many patients were much more comfortable in their own setting, parents were more involved in their children’s treatment, and that both parents and kids seemed more invested in their success. It gave her an idea.

THE IDEA

When the office reopened, Collier was determined to make her 4D Built to Read program — which helps parents eliminate visual hurdles to their children’s ability to read and do other activities — not only more accessible, but also a more educational and enriching experience for families.

“Previous at-home therapy programs we had encountered had little to no educational component, and a very low compliance. We were determined to come up with a program that not only built the visual foundations that children needed for reading success, but also to engage the parent and child in a meaningful relationship,” says Collier.

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THE EXECUTION

Dr. Juanita Collier

Dr. Juanita Collier

Her answer was to create a suite of programs that have taken vision therapy into the digital space. In addition to 4D Built to Read (foundational visual skills for children aged 5-10, designed to train parents to become “junior vision therapists” for their children), the practice also offers 4D Built to Drive (enhances visual skills necessary to become a confident and safe driver); 4D ReBuilt (helps patients return to daily activities symptom-free when enacted shortly after a concussion); and 4D Built for Life (retrains the visual processing streams of the brain in gradual steps, for patients with a brain injury or concussion sustained longer than a few months before starting VT).

Collier says the programs have enabled her team to impact many more lives. “We’ve had teachers reach out to us from remote areas that couldn’t access behavioral optometrists easily, who are now able to provide solutions to their struggling students,” she says.

To Collier, “Vision is so much more than what we see, it’s how we experience the world.” Vision therapy, by extension, is a way of improving overall wellness by allowing patients to fully experience life. “The programs we provide are a way to expand that reach,” she says, adding that they not only enhance visual skills, but also provide confidence and connection and allow patients to achieve their full potential.

What This Connecticut Practice Learned During the Pandemic That’s Revolutionized Their Vision Therapy Offerings

Patient and staff at 4D Vision Gym. The digital programs let parents get involved.

THE REWARDS

The response to the programs has been “amazing” says Collier. “It was better than we imagined, honestly. With 4D Built to Read, we have seen small angle strabismus eliminated, amblyopia resolved, and reading levels jump. For 4D Built for Life, we’ve had people be able to walk in a store and not experience sensory overload for the first time in years.”

The digital programs, she says, empower patients to take control of their vision on their own terms. “They are given the tools and support — but they are in control. It’s been a wonderful experience to witness how family dynamics and personal relationships have changed and grown through these programs.”

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Do It Yourself: Offer Digital Vision Therapy Services

  • TEAM UP. Find a local behavioral optometrist to be able to offer vision therapy to your patients.
  • OFFICE UPGRADE. Add accommodative, vergence and oculomotor testing, and offer patients access to quality active digital VT, such as 4D Vision Gym’s programs.
  • NEW APPROACH. Think outside the box, Collier says, and have a child read out loud to you. “That will give you information about their tracking, focusing and eye teaming.”
  • ACT NOW. If a patient presents with a concussion, don’t use “wait and see,” she warns. “You can change their life if you act quickly.”
  • CONTEXT IS ALL. Remember: “A child, 6, with reduced amplitudes of accommodation is more impacted than one who’s 12 with reduced amplitudes due to their shorter arms.”

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