may ease school woes
by Tamara Stokes
Special to DJW
Dr. Elliot Stendig believes a proper perspective is the key to a good quality of life. As an optometrist, Stendig measures vision in an unconventional way.
Stendig knows firsthand what it's like to be smart but struggling in school. When Stendig was in third grade, a school official had a conference with his father. He and his father were told that Elliot would not be able to graduate from high school and, at best, could aspire to work at the local dump. Stendig says that a local optometrist, who had a reputation for helping children with learning disabilities, examined him and helped him "see what he wasn't seeing."
Stendig says that, through the years, he's seen many children with learning problems who have high intelligence quotients and perfect vision but who perform poorly in school. Parents, often frustrated because homework and endless study periods seem fruitless, seek medical help to diagnose a condition. These children experience damaged self-esteem and may be labeled unfairly as lazy.
Stendig says the day he visited the fatherly eye doctor, his quality of life improved drastically. It has been his desire to help others understand what his own parents didn't understand about his learning differences.
The root of these problems lie in vision perception and translation to the brain. Stendig says, "20/20 vision isn't always perfect," contrary to what society as a whole thinks about this type of vision measurement.
Often both eyes may not work together, which causes a "vision-brain conflict." Stendig explains this occurs when one eye sees an object as a different size or in a different location than the other eye. "It's my job to help people see what they're supposed to see," says Dr. Stendig.
As a therapeutic optometrist pioneer and vision rehab diplomate, Stendig is an expert in the field of vision rehabilitation for stroke and accident victims, those diagnosed with dyslexia, attention-deficit disorder, amblyopia, color blindness, focusing problems, computer stress, brain injuries, double vision, crossed eyes and even headaches and backaches. Stendig measures vision repeatedly. He also uses a one-of-a-kind-in-Texas Humphrey Vision Analyzer computer. This holographic, high-tech device uses a virtual reality setting to learn what a patient "doesn't see."
Since 1992, all optometry school graduates must have the extra training to be a therapeutic optometrist and optometric glaucoma specialist. Dr. Stendig acquired the credentials and has pursued additional training in the field since 1974. Texas Optometry Board requirements are available at
Recently, new patient Mark Russell, 11, and his mom, Julie, visited Stendig in his Garland office. Mrs. Russell says her neighbor referred them to Stendig.
"Our neighbor's teenage daughter said she'd never seen shadows and was never able to distinguish italicized or underlined words before her diagnosis and treatment with Dr. Stendig," says Mrs. Russell. "Mark sees very well, but he just doesn't see what everyone else sees," she says.
During an examination that seemed part intuitive, part extrasensory perceptive and part scientific, Stendig checked and re-checked Mark's eyes.
Stendig says, "His eyes aren't working together." Then with enthusiasm and an encouraging bedside manner, Stendig tells Mark's mom, "Watch - this is going to blow your mind."
Stendig put a pair of corrective bifocal lenses in front of Mark, who is immediately able to read a phrase from the chart. "These bifocals will be a temporary training lens. We will train his eyes to see differently," says Stendig. Mark can expect to wear the bifocals for three months.
Mrs. Russell says she is relieved to finally receive a diagnosis - binocular dysfunction - and have an optimistic course for Mark's future.
And with Stendig's help, Mark will be able to see things quite clearly for the rest of his life.
For more information about Stendig's practice and his profile, visit
This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Friday, July 19, 2002