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Michael L. Smookler, O.D. Behavioral Optometrist
18 Vermont St. West Roxbury, MA 02132-2320
(617) 469-0015 Email Serving Boston metro area

Success Stories

At the third grade level, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Education gave my son a C.O.R.E. evaluation. His teacher, a former special ed. teacher, recommended he be tested. She expressed serious concerns about his academic future. Her report cited a suspected ╔ADD [attention deficit disorder], inability to express thoughts in writing in a logical manner, and poor memory.┴

My son had been struggling in school. He felt stupid and very emotional about not being able to keep up with his classmates. Every night I would have to read directions to his homework, as he sat and cried that he couldn░t do it. When he read it to himself, he didn░t seem to understand what he was supposed to do. How could this child I always thought so bright and articulate be doing so poorly?

I was very pleased on how comprehensive the testing was. A final meeting was called with the specialists, our school nurse, his teacher, and myself, and his results were discussed. My son had been given the Wechsler Intelligence Achievement test. His overall performance was below average in the 14th percentile. There was a 30 point discrepancy between the verbal and performance scale in favor of the verbal. Apparently he could communicate orally but not in written form. For perceptual organization, he ranked at 2%, and below average for processing speed and freedom from distractibility. His visual motor skills were below average. Although the specialists repeatedly stated they were not qualified to make an ADD diagnosis, this could only come from a medical doctor, it was their shared opinion that he indeed had ADD. He was deemed qualified for special services of occupational therapy and speech therapy for processing help.

As I sat through the review, listening and reading each test score and evaluation, it became apparent to me that he had many visual issues. His eldest brother had been diagnosed with convergence insufficiency at the age of 20 after telling me he saw double [diplopia]. I suspected my youngest son had the same trouble.

Our insurance required that we see an optometrist outside our area. He found that indeed my son had a convergence insufficiency, reduced depth perception and focusing dysfunction. For treatment we selected a developmental optometrist, Dr. Smookler.

Dr. Smookler confirmed the same findings after his own testing. He also spoke to us about behaviors that I had not connected to my son░s particular diagnosis, such as poor sport skills, and an inability to do many motor tasks. It was true. My son at age nine had difficulty pouring his own drink, cutting meat, playing sports. Many things I had attributed to immaturity could be connected to his visual motor problems.

Dr. Smookler worked with my son for nine months. The results have been remarkable. Now 10 years old and in the 4th grade, my son functions physically as a well as any other child his age. He does his homework with only occasional help from me and, most significantly, no longer feels stupid or that everyone is laughing at him. He has also been released from special services because it is the specialists░ feeling that he has improved enough to no longer need extra therapy.

My son is using recommended accommodations to succeed in the classroom. These simple strategies, along with his newly trained eyes, have resulted in a marked improvement in his academic life.
Cheryl M., Patient░s parent

I wanted to tell you how impressed I am with the results of doing Vision Therapy with my 9-year old son. After only 3 months of doing exercises, I have noticed improvements in several areas:

  • he can sustain reading for longer
  • he can look at visually busy papers (such as maps) and sort out what is happening (he used to get overwhelmed)
  • he can copy things from the board onto paper more easily

In addition, his Occupational Therapist noticed a major improvement (she last saw him in June before he started Vision Therapy, and saw him again in October, after he had done about 2 months of exercises). Her comment was that ╔something really came together neuro-integratively┴ for my son.

I look forward to working with you further to obtain even more positive results.
Judi R., Patient░s parent

I brought my daughter to Dr. Smookler for a developmental vision evaluation. She had a short attention span, made errors when copying, had poor writing, spelling, and reading comprehension. Her reading was slow and she skipped words. She really didn░t like to read.

Dr. Smookler found what all the other doctors found when he tested her [same eye exam findings]. Her eyes were healthy and she was able to see the smallest letters on the eye chart. She had ╔20/20┴ eyesight. Dr. Smookler further tested all her visual skills required for learning. He found that she could not follow along a line of print when she tried to read, she had difficulty keeping her vision in focus and could not shift her focus easily from the blackboard [distance] to her desk [near]. She also had trouble keeping her eyes focused at the same point [at near], while reading her eyes got tired.

[Editor░s Comments: Dear Reader,
This is a story we hear again and again. School eye exams and standard pediatric eye exams only test distance vision and do not test how a child░s eyes are functioning at near or when shifting from near to far and back again. Many children who have 20/20 vision still have vision problems that make near work (reading, writing, etc.) difficult. To continue ß].

I enrolled my daughter in a program of Vision Therapy. After a few short weeks, I noticed she picked up a book on her own and read it without anyone telling her to. Other changes included less fatigue and headaches, better comprehension and getting more organized. The most incredible change was that after four months of Vision Therapy, my daughter was retested at her school and her reading had improved three grade levels.
Bonnie S., Patient░s parent

Vision Therapy has:

  • Improved confidence in my vision and my overall physical ability.
  • Proved to me I can control my body with practice
  • Improved my vision overall
  • Improved my concentration when reading for a long time or from far away
  • Made me aware how my vision affects my overall well-being
  • I can use my vision to help control my moves
Mark B., Adult Patient

My name is Andrew B. and I am currently a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. My vision always bothered me as a child, and I░ve always had trouble concentrating when reading for more than a few minutes. Because of these problems, I have continually been to see eye doctors. They always had a cure and that cure was always glasses. The problem was that I was never satisfied would stop wearing the glasses.

This summer, my father mentioned Dr. Smookler and I immediately disregarded the idea of going to him fearing the many experiences I had already had with eye care. After some very serious coercion, I decided to give Dr. Smookler a try and am I glad I did.

For once, the cure wasn░t just to slap on some corrective lenses, we were going to teach my eyes how to work through therapy. The therapy sessions were actually very interesting. In fact, many of the individual activities were quite entertaining. I also enjoyed hearing about how my eyes worked before and what we were trying to teach them.

After 10 weeks of these sessions, I have had some amazing improvements. When before I just couldn░t make something out, I can now focus on it and make my eyes clear up the image. I have also noticed some serious improvement in the length of time that I can read, so I am anxiously awaiting what I hope to be an improvement in my study habits while at school. The bottom line is that I highly recommend seeking Vision Therapy.
Andrew B., Adult patient

Two years ago I changed jobs to a full-time college instructor. The amount of computer work, reading, and paperwork increased tremendously. My eyes began to burn, ache, and I would eventually become very tired. I went to a vision chain store to have my eyes examined. The doctor strongly suggested for me to wear glasses continuously throughout the day. I am nearsighted with astigmatism in both eyes.

Approximately three months ago, I stopped in Dr. Smookler░s office for a possible fitting of contact lenses. I do not like to wear glasses. He examined my eyes and asked many questions concerning the type of work I was doing. He was trying to get an idea of how much close up work I was doing on a daily basis.

He prescribed low stress lenses for my close work and cut back on my distance prescription for nearsightedness and the correction for the astigmatism. He mentioned I should try not to wear the glasses continuously.

I adapted to the decreased distance lenses well and began to cut back on the amount of usage. The fact that I was wearing another prescription for close up work took off the strain and stress from my eyes, therefore the need to wear my distance lenses decreased.

Before all this was done, I was at a point where I could not teach without wearing my distant lenses. I was so dependent on them. Now, I can teach without my glasses.

Overall, I feel my eyes are better than they were before. Thanks to Dr. Smookler for changing my lenses, spending time with me to assess my actual needs and to help me decrease the amount of time I actually wear my glasses. I no longer need to inquire about contact lenses.
Nancy L-S, Adult patient

As someone who works in the optical field, I have always been very careful in regard to my children░s eyes and vision. Yearly eye exams were done. Glasses prescribed as necessary. My son had done O.K.(but not great) in school, didn░t mind reading, but never really excelled.

Then I brought my children to see Dr. Smookler for their annual exam. He asked some very specific questions about school and eye symptoms. He did the routine exam but also some additional testing to see how my son░s eyes were moving, working as a team [binocular vision] and focusing. He found out that my son░s eyes were over-focusing when he read and recommended bifocals with a reading prescription. No one else had ever found or suggested that before.

Mitch has now made honor roll six terms in a row, (he hadn░t before) and loves to read and he reads. He reads a lot now. Most importantly, he feels better about himself and schoolwork.
M.T., Mitch░s parent

I came to Dr. Smookler to get some Vision Therapy eye exercises to help combat occasional age-related blurriness [presbyopia] when reading. In my twelve sessions with him, Dr. Smookler helped me so very much with his great knowledge and creativity; thanks to him, my eye lenses, which were starting to stiffen with age, have become far more flexible. The doctor was very generous with his time and attention, and got me quite in tune with and knowledgeable about my eyes and by extension, myself. Vision Therapy made me exercise and strengthen and use my eyes in many different ways.

Of course my main interest was my focusing [acuity, clearness of vision], and to develop that flexibility, Dr. Smookler gave me a sequence of increasingly more difficult visual activities. These focusing activities were part of a varying regimen I was given at each session. Other activities were for many different functions and aspects of the eyes and vision, and meant to promote their overall good health and high functioning in all sorts of ways. These would include eye movements, relaxation exercises, convergence/divergence, peripheral awareness and many more. Everything was taught and worked on in very enjoyable and frequently entertaining ways.

The entire experience was so very helpful and enlightening. I would hasten to say, all puns intended that I see things a lot differently and more clearly.
Natalie L., Adult patient

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