Dr. Julie Steinhauer, in Glen Carbon, is one of the few developmental optometrists in the nation. Her practice, Vision For Life, is becoming known worldwide for outstanding results in working with children and adults with various vision problems that affect their ability to read, write, comprehend, perform in sports or perform on the job.
Steinhauer and Vision For Life utilize Syntonic Phototherapy and traditional in office vision therapy to correct these problems and improve quality of life. The practice grew 42 percent in 2018 overall and net grew 1,000 percent from the previous year. It represents the biggest jump in her 16 years of practice ownership and 18 years as a doctor.
The firm’s specialty is working with children with learning-related vision problems. The average child improves 3-7 grade levels in reading comprehension following ten months of vision therapy. Clients came from all over the U.S. to visit Steinhauer’s office in Glen Carbon. One patient actually drove from New York City, 16 hours one way. Steinhauer consults with and coaches other optometrists wishing to learn and administer developmental optometry not only in the U.S. but from many countries worldwide.
Steinhauer says vision issues often resemble more commonly diagnosed and understood learning disabilities. Unfortunately this often leads to a more serious issue such as misdiagnosis and treatment for a condition the child does not have. There are a number of possibilities as to why a child may have vision issues. These include prematurity, prenatal drug exposure, genetics, too much screen time, ear infections, sickness that includes high fever, or a lack of motor activity during infant and toddler years. Vision therapy is a treatment option, no matter the reason.
Steinhauer says about 80 percent of every child in every classroom has undiagnosed vision problems affecting their performance in school. 90 percent of kids diagnosed with ADHD are misdiagnosed and have a condition called convergence insufficiency. She sees a number of patients also misdiagnosed who have dyslexia and visual spatial disorder.
Vision issues occur with the brain controlling vision because of eye alignment, the eyes working together, focusing or tracking. Another possibility is the struggle of visual processing of information such as visual memory or discrimination.
Once the child receives the proper diagnosis vision therapy trains the brain how to process visual and other sensory information more efficiently. This not only improves the child’s academics but also their processing and sport performance.
Studies show 65 percent of people are visual learners and 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Undiagnosed students suffer immensely. They have difficulty keeping up with peers. Often they are labeled lazy, or inattentive. Their anxiety can skyrocket. Proper diagnosis improves their confidence and their abilities soar. Some may not only keep pace but exceed expectations.
Services, in addition to Vision Therapy and Syntonic Phototherapy, include Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation, Developmental Vision Care, Learning Related Vision Problems, Strabismus (cross-eyed condition) and Amblyopia (lazy eye).
Before opening Vision For Life, Steinhauer owned and operated Jersey Family Vision Care in Jerseyville for nine years. In 2011 she decided to close that practice and focus solely on providing developmental vision care to the greater Edwardsville area. Vision For Life opened in April 2012.