Travis Hardee tested into Mountain Pointe's special program for gifted students, but struggled with Honors English. He procrastinated completing assignments and complained that reading made him fall asleep. His mom, longtime Ahwatukee Foothills resident Linda Hardee, was less than sympathetic. Conflicts and lectures about the value of good study habits were frequent.

As her son toiled through his junior year, former physical therapist Hardee decided to return to the workforce. She began training for certification as a vision therapist with Ahwatukee developmental optometrist Kelly de Simone. These specialists evaluate the entire visual system, the complex series of subsystems that link the eyes to the brain and determine how efficiently the brain processes what the eyes see.

During her training, Hardee noticed that one common symptom of visual system disorders is that a child or adult falls asleep when attempting to read for long periods. She had Travis evaluated and learned that he had a condition that impacted his ability to work at a close visual distance. The condition had not been detected during his annual standard eye exams, because his visual acuity measured 20/20.

Travis underwent about five months of weekly vision therapy with Eye Priority therapist Kathy Renolds. Today he is a senior engineering student at Northern Arizona University, set to graduate in May. During this past summer, Travis successfully completed NAU summer courses, rafted the Colorado River and spent his free time reading.

Hardee said: "I am fortunate that I happened to choose a profession that enabled me to finally help my son. But if I had done a little research on vision and realized that 20/20 vision is not all that is needed, I could have prevented a lot of family arguments."

A number of Ahwatukee optometry offices provide such therapy, also known as vision training. Hardee defines the process as "a series of visual exercises, which enhance and develop specific skills."

Complete information and clinical research can be found at:

• College of Optometrists in Vision Development,

• Optometric Extension Program Foundation ,

Dr. Kelly de Simone of Eye Priority is a developmental optometrist and Fellow in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. She has more than 20 years of experience in general optometry and the use of vision therapy for the treatment of visual system disorders. Reach her at (480) 893-2300 or

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