Vision Therapy Grad: Sydney

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith


Sydney has suffered from headaches since beginning kindergarten. They would worsen later in the day especially after school. As a 2nd grader, she was not a fan of reading and had very little confidence reading out loud. She would have problems differentiating between her d’s and b’s and would struggle following along the lines of her music during piano practice.

Dr. Brian Brightman recommended that Sydney talk to Dr. Rachel Smith at our Center for Vision Development. Dr. Smith worked with her team of vision therapists and put together a plan to help Sydney become more confident with her reading, to help her peripheral vision and help reduce headaches.

Sydney worked hard to accomplish her goals and recently graduated from the Vision Therapy program. She now reads aloud with confidence, does better playing the piano and best off all, is headache free. Her mother and the Vision Therapy team agree, “We are so proud of Sydney and her accomplishments!”

Doctor Spotlight: Rachel Smith, OD



Dr. Rachel Smith knew she wanted to be an optometrist back when she herself was a patient at EyeCare Specialties. She had been experiencing headaches and would struggle with close-up work. After being diagnosed with a binocular vision disorder, she began Vision Therapy treatment at the Center for Vision Development and was hooked. She knew she had to dedicate the rest of her life to understanding the relationship between vision and learning in order help as many people as possible.

Dr. Smith now runs the Center for Vision Development and helps patients who experience challenges with their visual processing. She is always proud of how the team comes together and strives to help each patient achieve success.


Dr. Smith spends her free time volunteering for the Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska and her church. She also loves spending time with her growing family and running outdoors.

Dr. Smith encourages scheduling regular eye exams for the whole family. With vision being more than 20/20 acuity, catching vision problems as soon as they arise can be beneficial especially when it comes to learning and development.

Meet Vision Therapy Grad: Stella

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Stella smaller

Recent Vision Therapy graduate Stella’s mother shares her experience with the Center for Vision Development:

“In first grade, I noticed Stella complaining of headaches when she was reading, skipping lines or words and sometimes struggling with easy words that I was sure she knew. I made her an appointment with the eye doctor because I thought perhaps she needed glasses. It was then that we found out she had 20/20 vision but was diagnosed with something called convergence insufficiency. Our eye doctor recommended pencil pushups, but a quick internet search told me vision therapy would be more effective. I was thrilled to learn there was a vision therapy office in Lincoln so close to our home, so we made an appointment.

When we brought her in she had a complete evaluation and was diagnosed with a few other issues in addition to the convergence insufficiency/. She was set up with a therapist and a custom therapy program to follow.

The therapy was definitely hard work. I will never forget at the beginning, Stella would cry during therapy at home because it was just so hard. But we kept working at it, and it was amazing to see by the end of each week, she could do it. We had just the sweetest, most caring therapist who worked so hard with Stella and made sure there was always something fun for her to do each night. Stella really loved working with Ashlie and always looked forward to going.

We just completed our program and the change we have seen in Stella is amazing. She continues to advance multiple levels in her reading when tested by her teacher. Her hand-eye coordination in sports has improved. And she has developed a love for reading. I love catching her reading in her room before bed or before school or whenever she has a spare minute. And she has developed such confidence – it really and truly has changed her life.

I wish everyone knew about vision therapy and the effect it can have on your child’s life. It was definitely hard work, but worth every minute. I have shared Stella’s story with so many of my friends and will continue sharing it, in the hopes that even more kids can have the same success that she has!”

Find out more about our Vision Therapy program here.

Virtual Reality and Vision

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith


If it’s not on every kid’s Christmas list this year, it will be soon enough. Virtual Reality (VR) is the next big thing in gaming and, with Google having released the Daydream View phone recently, VR will really start to change how people get their entertainment.

While Virtual Reality headsets have seen some slow and expensive development over the years (Oculus Rift), Google is really changing the landscape by offering Virtual Reality viewers made out of cardboard for mobile phones that when paired with a VR app can offer the viewer a 360-degree, 3D interactive experience.

How it Works

VR works by presenting a slightly different image to each eye, so that when the brain puts both images together, it creates a 3D effect. The apps in the phone then additionally track your head movements to put you in a simulated environment.

The Bad

The most common side effects so far with VR are nausea and disorientation which can be even worse if the experience is poorly rendered. Looking at any object for too long of a time can create eye strain. Doctors also worry about the development of myopia in youth which many of these games are targeting. As a matter of fact, some people feel that children shouldn’t use the VR technology at all, since we aren’t sure of what the negative effects might be.

Something else that can be a concern with VR technology is the exposure to too much blue light. Too much blue light exposure can interfere with circadian rhythms making restful sleep difficult, and there are concerns that it could be responsible for retinal damage.

Some of the negative effects depend upon the brightness of the VR screen, the contrast of light vs. dark, and both the frequency and duration of play. As with any digital viewing, we recommend the 20/20/20 rule. After 20 minutes of any activity, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds just to break things up and give your eyes a break.

Another negative effect with VR is called past-pointing which happens after use. Your brain becomes used to viewing objects in the virtual world which can be slightly off from reality. After taking the headset off, the gamer can have a difficult time adequately estimating distance (for example try to grab something when it appears closer or further away.) This can really impede hand eye coordination and make moving around a bit dangerous.

The Good

Believe it or not, there are some great benefits to this technology. Because each eye needs to work with the other eye, and the brain has to interpret what is being seen, the visual system has a self-correcting property. The eyes and brain learn to work together. This self-correcting property is what is currently being used in some Vision Therapy clinics through Vivid Vision. Vivid Vision has developed some programming specifically designed to help people overcome such visual processing issues such as amblyopia and strabismus.

As VR tech continues to take off and find its way into homes, it will be more and more important to study its effects. Hopefully as it becomes more sophisticated, the negative effects will become less significant and the positive ones will create a viewing experience that can be beneficial for the eyes as well as entertaining.…

Meet the Vision Therapist: Ashlie

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Ashlie WebAshlie graduated from Concordia University, Nebraska in 2015 with a degree in Exercise Science. As an athlete, she’s always been intrigued by working in a therapeutic environment. When she came across the opportunity to learn more about Vision Therapy and found out she’d be working with mostly kids with visual issues, she knew immediately that she found what she wanted to do.

When kids come to Vision Therapy for the first time, Ashlie can see how frustrated they are with school and reading. With the help of Dr. Rachel Smith, she gets to work creating a plan to help set goals for the patients. She enjoys getting to know each child and helping them build confidence in themselves and in their ability to read.

“When they finally realize that they can cross their eyes or read without skipping a line, the joy on their faces really makes my job fun!”

Ashlie has been a part of the Center for Vision Development team for a few months and has been enjoying the camaraderie with her co-workers. “They love what they do, and it shows when they walk in the door to work every day!”

Ashlie knows she’s had a good day when her patients leave feeling accomplished. She feels that making sessions fun and as stress-free as possible is the key to making each child feel successful and confident.

To find out more about Vision Therapy and how it might be able to help your child do better in school, click here.

Meet Vision Therapy Grad: Harrison

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Dr. Steve Sandman referred seven-year-old Harrison to the Center for Vision Development after his mother had noticed how much he was struggling in school. Harrison had also been experiencing motion sickness in the car and had problems maintaining balance and riding his bike. Dr. Sandman thought that he would be a good candidate for Vision Therapy.

“He was actually on the verge of getting a referral for OT/Special Education/Title I help,” says Shannon, Harrison’s mother. “Since starting Vision Therapy, he has improved greatly. He has moved up in reading groups. His report card and testing scores have dramatically improved to an above average student.”

Shannon credits a lot of Harrison’s success to his hard work and the patience of Rose, his Vision Therapist. For more information on Vision Therapy and how it can help your child, click here.


Meet Vision Therapy Grad: Emma

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

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Emma found herself struggling in both school and play. She would have difficulty maintaining her balance and riding her bike. She also would become very frustrated with reading and math in school. She says, “I did not write my spaces correctly and I got headaches when I would read, write or do school. I couldn’t see things right.”

Emma’s mom talks about how her daughter would become frustrated in school, “She often told me that her eyes were ‘playing tricks on her’.” Emma’s optometrist recommended Vision Therapy, and Emma quickly saw success.

A recent graduate of the program, Emma is excited to be hitting the trails this spring, “Now I love to read and ride my bike. I put in spaces, and I don’t get headaches anymore. Thank you Erin. Thank you Dr. Smith.”

Find out more about our Center for Vision Development and the Vision Therapy program.

Meet Vision Therapy Grad: Bryce

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Bryce’s mother Mindi is an EyeCare Specialties team member, so she already knew how beneficial Vision Therapy could be for people with vision disorders. When her 11 year old daughter Bryce started to experience problems in school, she decided to have her daughter’s vision tested to see if there was an underlying vision problem.

After just six months of working with her vision therapist Tess, Mindi is so proud of Bryce’s graduation from the program, “I have seen great improvement in her grades at school. Her memory and comprehension are so much better. She doesn’t get frustrated and she’s not so clumsy. I can’t thank Tess enough for everything she’s done for Bryce and leading her in the right direction.”

Find out more information on our Vision Therapy program.

Bryce and I

Meet the Vision Therapy Grad: Jordyn

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Jordyn started Vision Therapy treatment after struggling in school. Once she began coming to therapy and working with her Vision Therapist Erin, Jordyn’s grades began improving and she began to actually enjoy reading.

Jordyn and her mother really noticed a difference at an Easter Egg Hunt this past spring. At first, Jordyn didn’t want to participate because she was used to having a difficult time finding eggs. But because of all of the hard work she had been doing on her visual skills during Vision Therapy, she decided to give it a try. She was amazed at being able to find so many eggs and really felt a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Her mother Tara appreciates Jordyn’s new self esteem and confidence, “Now she likes to read and is doing so much better at school. Thank you Dr. Smith and Erin.”

Find out more about our Vision Therapy Program.

CVD grad_Jordyn-2

Meet the Vision Therapy Grad: Briley

Dr. Rachel Smith
by Dr. Rachel Smith

Prior to Vision Therapy, Briley did not like to read; she would feel the need to use her finger as a guide, and her struggle made school difficult. She began a course of Vision Therapy at EyeCare Specialities’ Center for Vision Development. With the help of Tess and the rest of the Vision Therapy team, Briley really started to see results midway through the program.

Now, Briley loves to read, and sometimes her parents find it hard to get her to stop. Her comprehension grades have improved tremendously, and her family credits her hard work and Tess’ encouragement and support as the reason why.

“We all can tell that Vision Therapy was a success, and we are very happy with the results.” Kristin, Briley’s mother

Find out more about our Vision Therapy program.

CVD Grad_Briley

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