Some visual conditions cannot be treated adequately with just glasses, contact lenses and/or patching, and are best resolved through a program of Vision Therapy.
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision Therapy is a custom designed, individualised and supervised treatment program designed to correct problems with:
Recognition and information processing
and other important functions.
Vision Therapy sessions include procedures designed to enhance the brain’s ability to control:
eye tracking and eye teaming,
eye focusing abilities,
Visual-motor skills and endurance are developed through the use of specialized exercises, computer and optical devices, including therapeutic lenses, prisms, and filters. During the final stages of therapy, the patient’s newly acquired visual skills are reinforced and made automatic through repetition and by integration with motor and cognitive skills.
Each program of vision therapy must be designed to suit the specific needs of the individual, both in terms of their visual profile and their goals. Diagnostic testing, training procedures and the use of lenses and prisms may be integral components of the successful treatment of a vision problem. The frequency of consultation, the amount of home training and the duration of a course of vision therapy will vary depending on the nature and severity of the problem being treated and the specific needs of the patient.
Vision therapy is not used to strengthen eye muscles, but to improve the coordination and efficient functioning and processing of the visual system. A vision therapy program can run for a few weeks to several months, depending on the problem and the response to therapy.
Vision Therapy and Learning
Most children have normal sight, to see well on an eye test chart, but up to 30% of children have (often undetected) problems of vision involving focusing, eye coordination, convergence, and eye movements, necessary for reading and writing tasks at near.
Unfortunately, if a child is tested only on a distance eye chart, they may be wrongly assumed to have normal vision for reading and writing up close, but this is not the full story. Problems with focusing and eye coordination can significantly interfere with the child’s ability to use their eyes to read fluently and accurately.
We may improve reading and learning capability, but DO NOT treat dyslexia, dyspraxia, or ADHD. Optometrists who provide behavioural optometry care assess and treat learning-related vision problems of function and processing which can restrict learning capability, using proven scientific tests and management. It does not help to have reading problems or dyslexia, AND to have a vision problem.
The Science of Vision Therapy
Vision therapy is grounded in sound vision science principles and a long history of published data supporting its effectiveness. The past decade has seen vision therapy research receive funding from organisations like the US government’s National Eye Institute. The results of this research have appeared in well-respected medical and optometry research journals. It involved the collaboration of optometrists, medicine and organisations such as the respected Mayo Clinic. These studies were very carefully designed and have been the subject of positive Cochrane System Reviews. This means that they are considered “gold standard” research studies.