Vision Therapy and Visual Processing – Los Angeles and Orange County

What is Visual Processing Disorder (VPD)? Understanding the Symptoms

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Vision Therapy @
Visual Processing Institute

At the Visual Processing Institute, we go beyond traditional eye care. Our team uses cutting-edge technologies to transform how you see and interact with the world. We’re not simply about glasses or eye checkups – we focus on optimizing your brain’s ability to process visual information for greater success in life.

We collaborate with healthcare professionals across various specialties to treat a wide range of visual disorders, from those present at birth to those resulting from brain injuries or strokes. Our expertise includes:

  • Strengthening visual skills essential for learning, reading, and focus
  • Rehabilitating visual function after brain injuries
  • Remedying coordination and balance issues
  • Enhancing sports performance through specialized vision training


Our Sports Vision Training program adapts clinically proven vision therapy techniques to boost athletes’ visual processing and performance. Just like physical training, we target your eyes and brain for sharper skills and a competitive edge.

Dr. Kalie McCartin, an experienced Neuro-Optometrist and owner of a technologically advanced practice, is dedicated to improving the visual process beyond 20/20 vision. With a background in Biology and Optometry from prestigious institutions, she specializes in pediatric vision therapy and rehabilitation for brain injuries. Dr. McCartin’s commitment to excellence is evident through her awards, memberships in professional associations like the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitative Association and the International Sports Vision Association, and ongoing pursuit of fellowships. She actively contributes to the optometric community and stays updated with the latest research. Outside of work, Dr. McCartin enjoys the South Bay’s lifestyle with her children, engaging in outdoor activities and community involvement. Her passion for helping others and her expertise make her a valued member of the optometric field in Southern California.

Visual Processing Disorder, VPD, Symptoms, Signs, Living with VPD

Your Vision is Fine, But Something’s Not Right: Discover Visual Processing Disorder (VPD)

Visual processing goes far beyond simply seeing clearly. Our brains have the complex job of interpreting and understanding the visual information our eyes send them. This involves tasks like sorting shapes, recognizing letters, understanding spatial relationships, and seamlessly guiding our movements. When this process is disrupted, it’s called Visual Processing Disorder (VPD). VPD isn’t a problem with eyesight, but with how the brain makes sense of what we see.

Imagine your eyes as cameras, simply capturing raw images. Your brain is the powerful computer that processes these images, giving them meaning. With VPD, there’s a glitch in the brain’s processing software. This can make everyday tasks like reading, writing, driving, or even navigating a crowded room feel overwhelming and frustrating.

Recognizing the Signs of Visual Processing Disorder

VPD can manifest in many ways, often making it tricky to identify. Here are some common symptoms across different age groups:

  • Difficulty with reading and writing (letter reversals, slow reading, poor comprehension): Children with VPD may struggle to recognize individual letters, mix up their order, or have trouble tracking lines of text. This makes reading slow, laborious, and affects their understanding of what they read.
  • Confusing similar-looking letters or words (like “b” and “d”): Due to challenges with visual discrimination, children might have difficulty distinguishing between letters or words with subtle differences in shape or orientation.
  • Struggling to copy from the board or a book: Copying requires visual memory and visual-motor coordination. VPD can make it difficult to remember what was seen and accurately reproduce it on paper.
  • Difficulty with tasks requiring hand-eye coordination (sports, puzzles): VPD can affect how a child processes spatial information and coordinates their movements with what they see, making activities like catching a ball or assembling a puzzle challenging.
  • Trouble completing work on time: The added effort required to process visual information can slow down a child’s pace, making it hard to finish assignments within given timeframes.
  • Sensitivity to light or easily distracted by visual stimuli: Some children with VPD may experience sensory sensitivities, finding bright lights uncomfortable or feeling overwhelmed in visually busy environments.
  • Challenges with reading, especially for extended periods: VPD in adults can lead to slower reading speeds, difficulty focusing on the text, and increased fatigue when reading for prolonged periods.
  • Headaches or eye strain when concentrating on visual tasks: The extra effort the brain exerts to process visual information can lead to headaches, eye strain, and discomfort during visually demanding tasks.
  • Difficulty judging distances or depth perception: Problems with spatial processing can make it difficult to accurately perceive the distance between objects or navigate environments safely.
  • Clumsiness or bumping into things: Impaired visual-motor integration can affect coordination and make a person seem clumsy or prone to bumping into objects.
  • Difficulty with driving, especially at night: VPD can impact visual skills crucial for safe driving, like judging distances, tracking moving objects, and adapting to changes in light conditions.

Types of Visual Processing Disorders

VPD isn’t one single condition. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Visual Discrimination: Trouble seeing differences between similar shapes, letters, or objects. Imagine mixing up the letters “p” and “q” or struggling to tell the difference between similar-looking objects. This can make reading, writing, and even recognizing familiar faces a challenge.

  • Visual Memory: Difficulty remembering what was just seen. This goes beyond simple forgetfulness. A person with visual memory issues might struggle to recall the shape of a letter they just saw, or have trouble picturing a familiar object in their mind’s eye. This impacts reading comprehension and the ability to follow instructions.

  • Visual-Spatial Relationships: Challenges understanding spatial concepts like position and direction. This can manifest as difficulty with directions, getting lost easily, or being unable to judge distances. Tasks like reading maps, parking a car, or playing sports can become very difficult.

  • Visual Sequencing: Difficulty remembering the order of letters, numbers, or objects. This can lead to reversals in writing (like “was” for “saw”), problems with spelling, and challenges in math and other subjects that rely on sequential order.

  • Visual-Motor Integration: Problems coordinating hand movements based on visual input. Think of handwriting, catching a ball, or even tying your shoes. With poor visual-motor integration, these tasks can feel clumsy, slow, and frustrating.

What to Do if You Suspect VPD

  • Seek a Comprehensive Eye Exam: Start with a thorough eye exam from one of our neuro-optometrists at the Vision Processing Institute. This helps rule out any underlying vision problems, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, that might contribute to reading or learning difficulties. A standard eye exam focuses on visual acuity (seeing 20/20), but it won’t assess complex visual processing skills.

  • Consult a Neuro-Optometrist specializing in Vision Therapy: If you suspect VPD, it’s essential to seek an evaluation from our team who specializes in developmental and neuro-optometry. These optometrists have advanced training in diagnosing and treating visual processing disorders. They will conduct specialized tests to evaluate different areas of visual function, going well beyond the standard eye chart test. This in-depth assessment helps pinpoint specific areas of weakness in visual processing.

  • Understand the Treatment Plan: If diagnosed with VPD, our neuro-optometrist will create a customized treatment plan. This often involves vision therapy, a specialized form of therapy designed to improve visual processing skills. Think of vision therapy as physical therapy for the brain’s visual system. It uses activities and exercises to strengthen the neural pathways involved in processing visual information. Treatment might also include the use of specialized lenses or prisms to support visual comfort and efficiency.

  • Contact the Visual Processing Institute: We, at the Visual Processing Institute, are committed to helping individuals with VPD reach their full potential. Our team has the expertise to accurately diagnose visual processing problems and develop personalized treatment plans. Contact us to find out how we can help you or your child overcome challenges associated with VPD.

Important Note: Early intervention is key. With the right diagnosis, treatment, and support, most people with VPD can see significant improvements in their visual skills, leading to better academic performance, increased self-confidence, and enhanced overall quality of life.

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Living with VPD

Living with (VPD) can be challenging, yet with proper diagnosis and support, individuals can navigate their condition effectively. By implementing tailored strategies and undergoing targeted therapy, individuals with VPD ca

n enhance their visual processing skills, resulting in notable advancements in reading comprehension, learning abilities, and overall quality of life. Through specialized interventions and support systems, individuals can overcome hurdles associated with VPD and lead fulfilling lives. Understanding the intricacies of VPD and accessing appropriate resources are crucial steps toward empowerment and success for individuals affected by this condition. With the right guidance and assistance, those living with VPD can unlock their full potential and thrive in various aspects of life.

Visual Processing Treatment and Vision Therapy: Your Path to Improved Vision and Life

Visual Processing Disorder (VPD) treatments, such as vision therapy, offer a beacon of hope for individuals struggling with the challenges of this condition. Think of vision therapy as a personalized training program for your brain’s visual system. It’s designed to strengthen the very foundations of how you understand and interact with the world around you.

Vision therapy focuses on improving core areas like visual discrimination, memory, spatial awareness, and coordination. As these skills improve, so does your ability to read, write, navigate your environment, and simply enjoy the world you see. It tackles VPD at its root, while also helping you develop the tools to manage its effects on your life.

Don’t let VPD hold you or your loved one back any longer. If you recognize the signs we’ve discussed, take action. Contact the Visual Processing Institute today. Our team is dedicated to helping you understand your unique visual processing profile and create a treatment plan for success. With dedication and the right support, vision therapy can unlock a clearer, more comfortable, and more fulfilling way of seeing the world. Let us show you how treatment can change your life.


To schedule an appointment with one of our Neuro-Optometrists visit our vision therapy contact page.

Here is a comprehensive list of Vision Therapy Associations.

  1. College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD)
  2. Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF)
  3. Vision Therapy Stories
  4. Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA)
  5. Vision Help
  6. OEPF Vision Therapy Page
  7. Vision Therapy & Strabismus Symposium (VTSS) Manual
  8. Vision Therapy Canada
  9. Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO)
  10. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS)
  11. International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation (IAFNR)
  12. Vision Therapy Stories
  13. Paediatric Optometry at World Council of Optometry
  14. Vision Therapy at World Council of Optometry

Share Our Vision Therapy Blogs

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  1. American Optometric Association (AOA) – AOA is a trusted source for information on vision and eye care, providing resources about vision problems in children and the importance of early detection and treatment.

  2. College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) – COVD offers valuable insights into vision therapy and its role in addressing vision problems that can affect reading abilities in children.

  3. Optometry Times – Optometry Times provides articles and updates on vision-related topics, including the impact of undiagnosed vision problems on children’s reading skills.

  4. All About Vision – All About Vision is a comprehensive resource for eye health information, covering topics such as vision problems, vision therapy, and the importance of early intervention for children.

  5. Vision Therapy Success Stories – This website shares success stories and testimonials about the benefits of vision therapy, showcasing real-life examples of how it can improve reading difficulties caused by vision problems in children.

Questions About: Undiagnosed Vision Problems

Question 1: My child hates reading. Could it be more than just disliking the activity? 

Answer: Absolutely. Dislike for reading can stem from underlying vision problems that make the act difficult and frustrating, even if your child has good eyesight.

Question 2: How do I know if vision problems are causing the issue, not lack of focus?

Answer: Common signs include losing place when reading, frequent headaches, difficulty copying from the board, or avoiding reading-related activities. However, these can overlap with focus issues, which is why specialized testing is crucial.

Question 3: My child’s regular eye doctor says their vision is fine. Should I get a second opinion?

Answer: If reading struggles persist despite good eyesight, yes. Traditional eye exams don’t assess the complex system of visual skills needed for reading. A behavioral or developmental optometrist has specialized tools to uncover these issues.

Question 4: What exactly is a behavior or developmental optometrist?

Answer: These optometrists specialize in diagnosing and treating the root causes of vision-related learning problems. They go beyond eyesight checks to evaluate how your child’s eyes and brain work together to process visual information.

Question 5: Are the vision issues you mentioned treatable?

Answer: Yes! Vision therapy offers a highly successful, non-invasive approach. It’s like targeted exercises to train the eyes and brain for better visual processing and coordination.

Question 6: How does vision therapy actually work?

Answer: Vision therapy uses customized activities and specialized equipment to strengthen specific visual skills. Think of it as brain training for the eyes to work more efficiently, making reading easier.

Question 7: How long does vision therapy typically take?

Answer: While it varies, treatment generally involves between 20-40 regular sessions over several months for optimal results.

Question 8: Will my child need glasses too?

Answer: Possibly, but not always. Vision therapy focuses on the brain-eye connection, while glasses correct eyesight. Your optometrist will determine if both are needed.

Question 9: Does insurance cover vision therapy?

Answer: Unfortunately, we do not take insurance.

Question 10: How do I schedule an appointment for my child at the Visual Processing Institute?

Answer: You can call us directly 424-407-3303 to schedule a comprehensive eye and vision exam.