Stress, Mental Health, and Vision

Dr. Alff worked to increase psychological well-being in individuals, marriages, families, and workforces by dealing with the global effects of stress in their situation. She taught that all change is stressful--even a looked-forward-to vacation of rest. The more work involved in making the change, the more stressful it becomes. Stress can be rated on the paper and pencil inventory developed by Dr. Thomas Holmes. He found that a person experiencing 150 points of stress in a year was under considerable stress, and needed to take immediate steps to address the problems involved. A person with over 300 points was in danger of serious illness.

Stress affects the eyes. Both eyes must focus on an object before the message can be sent to the brain by the optic nerve. Only in the back of the brain does a person “see” and learn. But, the eyes may not focus on the object; instead they may turn out, and the person may not be aware of the process.

When the brain does not receive the message due to stress, a person can’t understand what they see or read. Eyes that do not focus are the basis for many learning disabilities, and sometimes the basis for low grades in school and/or work for people who have a good mind. They may find themselves accused of not trying hard enough or of being lazy when, in fact, they are giving 200 percent with little to show for it. When a person is not fully seeing their world, depression and other mental health problems may also result, as well as conduct problems in children.

Dr. Alff learned of this during her internship in Washington D.C., from developmental optometrist Dr. Emil Franke. Unlike other optometrists and ophthalmologists who examine each eye separately for corrective lenses, a developmental optometrist, in a visual analysis, also checks to see if both eyes are working together. If they are not, they are trained to do Visual Therapy to increase perception.

She wrote Dr. Franke for the name of someone in Pittsburgh who was also a developmental optometrist. He directed her to Dr. Merrill D. Bowan, as he knew his work from their presenting together at conferences.

Dr. Alff found that her clients typically were very stressed. If she suspected their eyes might not be working together, she gave them the Rutger’s drawing test, a screening tool for perceptual problems. With their permission, she then faxed the test to Dr. Bowan for standardized scoring. If the score warranted, she refered them for an evaluation with Dr. Bowan.

Dr. Bowan is not a provider for insurance companies. That means that one must self pay the cost of the session at each visit and then submit the receipt to your vision plan, if you have coverage. Some plans require that you get authorization before hand, even to go out of network. That way, they will pay something of the visit.

Dr. Bowan shares office space with Schneider & Tellin, 210 Norman Center, 1720 Washington Rd, Suite 201, Pittsburgh, PA 15241. 412-831-5255. He is across Rt. 19 S from Village Square Mall. Dr. Bowan has office hours in the South Hills Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. To talk to Dr. Bowan personally, leave him a message on the office answering machine or on his voice mail 724-274-8315.
Check his web site .

Dr. Alff found that when eyes can physically see, the emotional eyes could see as well, and therapy was shortened. Many times, the presenting problem bringing a person to therapy was better served by visual therapy, and therapy was terminated.

If you have no vision insurance, and are not able to afford glasses, contact Lenscrafters. They have a “Gift of Sight“ program for which you may be eligible.