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Picture Books Help Kids Understand Vision Testing and Therapy

Jennifer Simonson, OD, FCOVD, was on a flight home from a course in 2016 when she noticed books for parents about vision but wondered, “Where’s the book for the kids who are having vision issues?” Dr. Simonson is an avid scrapbooker, so when she got home, she created paper dolls as the artwork for My Perfect Vision, the book that she wrote on that flight. She wrote the book at a first-grade reading level, noting that children with visual symptoms often don’t read well and she wanted to put the information into simple concepts. Colleagues encouraged her to share it and asked for copies that they could send to referral sources and keep in their reception rooms.

That first book led to a series of books on vision issues, in a literal rainbow of colors and inspired in part by conferences she attended. A lecture on strabismus resulted in My Double Vision, and one on traumatic brain injuries and vision rehabilitation led to My Jumbled Vision. My Mismatched Vision is about refractive amblyopia. The books are entertaining for children and help to explain visual issues to parents. “When parents realize that visual problems impact learning and also things like sports and reading music, they understand the importance of treatment better,” she says.

Dr. Simonson got a lucky start in optometry when her undergraduate physics lab partner suggested she work at Professional Vision Care in Westerville, Ohio, where Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD, quickly became a mentor. As a new hire, she had an eye exam and the doctor doing the exam quickly realized her issues with double vision. “I was asked to line up two pictures, and one was on the wrong wall.” Dr. Simonson’s eyeglasses prescription was changed drastically, and the doctor recommended vision therapy. She trained to be a vision therapist. “I did all the therapy exercises with the patients. By the time I went into optometry school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” she says.

Dr. Simonson started her career with terrific mentors at Highline Vision Center, with Jeri Schneebeck, OD, FCOVD, and Jennifer Redmond, OD, FCOVD. Dr. Simonson became the clinic director at Boulder Valley Vision Therapy in Boulder, Colorado, in 2008, which allowed her to specialize in vision therapy. “I loved working with the little ones. I have three boys, so this matches my energy level. I love preschool and developmental vision, doing exams on the floor if necessary,” she says. Dr. Simonson hopes that her picture books help spread the word about the importance of pediatric eye examinations and increase public awareness about vision therapy.

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