We are currently involved in a wide variety of projects worldwide. Listed here are some examples from US and Japan. Please contact us for opportunities in your area.
In Wisconsin, parochial schools have been using Gemstone for several years to screen children with reading problems. Resource teachers are trained to detect visual skill problems, and they then either refer the child to a local eye care professional or recommend that the child use the Gemstone program at school. We have found that about half of children in grades 1-8 who have not been diagnosed with a specific learning disorder but still have difficulty reading, actually have visual skills problems. Parents pay for the program individually, for each student.
In California, an ongoing project uses the Gemstone program routinely for its problem readers in grades 3-5 who score above a certain value on the Convergence Insufficiency Symptom Survey. After being cleared by the school nurse or other qualified professional, and after obtaining parental permission, these children are using the Gemstone internet visual skills training program in their classroom. We are finding that every problem reader who completes the Gemstone program made improvements in their standardized reading scores, compared to only half of the students who did not complete the program. This program has been funded since 2006 by the Rodeo Municipal Advisory Council of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.
In Southern California, we found that English-as-a-Second-Language students improved their visual efficiency significantly after using the Gemstone program in a special before- school class. One year later, they had also improved their reading scores significantly as well. Program funded by the school; research partially supported by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.
We have partnered with the Oakland Unified School District to work with students in alternative schools. Our early studies demonstrated that these children, too, have visual skill problems. We are currently applying for a federal grant to provide a systematic intervention in several schools, to test the Gemstone system’s ability to improve reading scores in a larger cohort of schools. The initial program, from 2003-2005, was funded by donations to the school; the new grant is to the Institute for Education Science of the US Department of Education.
With Delano Joint Unified High School District and the East Side Union High School District, Gemstone has shown that 50% or more of students who read poorly in high school have visual skill problems. We have published this work in terms of the prevalence of the problems, and are in the process of writing another paper based on 10 years of studies that include other Districts in California. The conclusion of these projects is that the Gemstone program has been effective in improving visual skills in ¾ of the students identified. And in half or more of the students whose visual skills improve, reading improves as well. Funding for this program came from the Districts themselves.
In Orange County, an ongoing project with the Department of Education helps students in community day classrooms to improve their visual skills by using the Gemstone program. Gemstone personnel screen each student and train staff; staff then administers the program during the day to their students. We have documented improvements in visual efficiency, reading fluency, and standardized reading performance for up to one year following the program. This program has been funded co-operatively between the Ford Motor Company Community Fund and the Orange County Department of Education since 2005.
In Los Angeles County, ongoing projects in juvenile incarceration facilities are helping students make the transition from probation camp to their home community. Partnering with another non-profit, Gemstone offers students the means to improve academic learning efficiency, and we find that those who complete the program have better reading scores. This program has been funded by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors since 2006.
In Japan, we have studied college students as well as patients in private practices. We have found that when students are struggling to read, they may also have visual skill problems. Interestingly, perhaps due to the high myopia common among Asian populations, the students in our studies have excellent convergence skills. So when they experience visual skills problems they tend to be in other areas. Nonetheless, the Gemstone approach has been successful because we address not only convergence, but divergence, tracking, and accommodation. Study funded by the school.
Adult Japanese patients in a case study series with Dr. Hamada in Osaka were able to relieve their visual discomfort by using the Gemstone program. The patients’ average age was over 40 years. Privately funded, by individual patients.
In Richmond, California, an adult literacy program routinely screens its clients for visual skill problems, and then uses the Gemstone program for those in need (after assuring that there are no other problems). Those who finish the program report that their eye fatigue is reduced so that the long hours of study (for the GED, for example) are now possible. Funded by the literacy program.
In collaboration with Pacific Vision Institute, Dr. Ella Faktorovich, and Dr. Gina Day, we have been studying patients who have had LASIK surgery but are still experiencing blurry vision. In some cases (less than 1%) the blur is due to poor binocular coordination—a condition that may have existed prior to surgery but went undetected. We find that at least half of those patients were helped by Gemstone-- their symptoms went away and their vision became more comfortable. The study was supported by the three doctors involved (Faktorovich, Day, and Powers), but we are now seeking federal support for a multi-center trial to replicate and expand these results.
In collaboration with faculty at the University of California Berkeley, Gemstone is studying (1) the incidence of visual skill problems in Division 1 college athletes, and (2) whether visual skill training can improve whether their sports performance or their academic performance or both. The project is still in its formative stages, but pilot data suggest that students involved in sports that are more visually demanding (like baseball, football, basketball) may have slightly better visual skills than those that are less visually demanding (like track or swimming). There also may be some interesting differences between male and female athletes in visual skill level.
Gemstone sponsors and participates in community vision and visual skill screenings, whether sponsored by community organizations (e.g., Crockett Community Foundation, Lions Clubs) or as part of community events (we have a booth that we set up as a non-profit at various fairs, for example). We believe in visual awareness, and routinely provide a speaker whenever one is requested – to a PTA, a School Board, Rotary Club, etc.