What Conditions Need Vision Therapy?
Vision therapy is physical therapy for the eyes as well as the brain. It is highly effective and an alternative to surgical treatment capable of treating many common visual problems. Eye conditions treatable by non-surgical vision therapy are: strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), diplopia (double vision), convergence insufficiency (trouble turning the eyes inward; for example to read) and some reading and learning disabilities. It is common for patients to be told that if not corrected early in life the condition may not be reversible, such as with lazy eye where the brain will eventually shut down the “wandering” eye. The brain makes it not see at all. However, there are cases where patients have been told, "it's too late," or "you'll just have to learn to live with it" and have benefited greatly from vision therapy. In some cases conditions have been almost completely reversed if not entirely.
When it comes to learning disabilities, vision therapy is specifically used to target and resolve the visual problems which interfere with learning, reading, and the ability to take educational instruction. Learning disabilities are a different issue people struggle with. For this reason, the Optometric industry does not claim vision therapy can treat any learning disability and therefore targets only visual conditions.
Vision Therapy Program: What is involved?
- Prescribed on a Case Basis for:
- Helping a patient improve or develop fundamental visual abilities and skills.
- Improving a patient’s visual ease, comfort, and efficiency.
- Changing how a patient interprets and processes visual information with or without prescription glasses.
- Progressive Vision Exercises and/or Procedures
- Prescribed by and Performed Closely Under a Doctor’s Supervision
- Customized Per Individual to Fit the Patient’s Visual Needs
- Sessions Conducted in the Doctor’s Office Once or Twice weekly (usually 30 minutes to 1 hour sessions)
- Can Consist of Additional Exercises/Procedures at Home Between Office Visits (referred to as homework or home reinforcement)
Vision Therapy: More Than Just Eye Exercises
Vision Therapy has been known to be marketed to consumers as self help or self directed eye exercises a person can manage on their own. A person needing Vision Therapy should only do so as prescribe by and under strict supervision of a qualified optometric vision care provider. Optometrists and Ophthalmologists use an array of devices for treatment. Some are instruments closely regulated by the medical field.
Vision Therapy Instruments:
- Therapeutic Lenses (medically regulated)
- Corrective Lenses (medically regulated)
- Prism Lenses (medically regulated)
- Occluders or Eye Patches
- Electronic Targets Equipped with Timing Mechanisms
- Optical Filters
- Computer Software
- Visual-Motor-Sensory Integration Training Instruments
- Vestibular (balance) Equipment
When a person is thought to have a vision impairment that may require Vision Therapy, they should receive a complete comprehensive vision examination by a qualified medical provider. Optometrists or Ophthalmologists are equally qualified to diagnose and treat a person needing Vision Therapy. If when an Optometrist examines a patient and determines there is a condition present requiring a higher level of treatment they are unable to provide, the patient will be referred to an Ophthalmologist.
Vision Therapy Success Stories
Choosing a Pediatric Eye Doctor
How Long Should You Wear Prism Lenses?
Kentucky Optometric Association