VISION THERAPY

Vision Therapy

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 therapyVision Therapy is an individualized, supervised, treatment program prescribed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies. Vision therapy is that part of optometric care devoted to developing, improving and enhancing a person’s visual performance. Vision Therapy sessions include procedures designed to enhance the brain's ability to control:

  • Tracking or eye movement skills
  • Focusing skills (sustaining and shifting focus)
  • Eye coordination or binocularity
  • Visual perception or processing skills

Visual-motor skills and endurance are developed through the use of specialized 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.

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Who Can Benefit From Vision Therapy?

 

Patients of all ages can benefit from vision therapy. The nature of the therapy program varies with the condition treated. For example, a three-year-old child with amblyopia, or "lazy eye", may simply have the better eye patched for a short period of time during each day. An eight-year-old child with strabismus, or "crossed eye", may require therapy for a period of a year. A thirty-year-old computer programmer may require three to six months to solve a visual problem that causes significant eye strain.

Children and adults with visual dysfunctions such as the following conditions can be helped by vision therapy.

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Visually-related Learning Problems
 

Vision Therapy can help those individuals who lack the necessary visual skills for effective reading, writing, and learning (i.e., eye movement and focusing skills, convergence, eye-handcoordination, visual memory skills, and letter and number reversals.).

To learn more about vision-related learning problems, visit any of these web pages on reading, ADD/ADHD, tracking or convergence insufficiency.

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Poor Binocular or Eye Coordination
 

Vision Therapy helps individuals develop normal coordination and teamwork of the two eyes (binocular vision). When the two eyes fail to work together as an effective team, visual discomfort and overall performance in many areas can suffer. Reading and computer work may cause headaches or fatigue, and being able to catch or hit a ball in sports may be much more difficult than a person without this condition.

To learn more about binocular vision, visit these web pages on 3D vision and depth perception, convergence insufficiency or The Framing Game.

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Strabismus and Amblyopia
 

When a person’s eyes do not aim in the same common direction, the condition is called ‘strabismus”. Commonly known as ‘crossed eyes’ or ‘wall eyes’, the eyes may turn constantly upward, downward, inward or outward. The ‘eye turn’ may be constant at all distances at all times, or only evident at the end of a tiring day, or when a person is sick.

When an eye turns, the brain will start to suppress or ignore the visual image-otherwise double vision would result. If suppression occurs for a long enough time period, amblyopia or lazy eye will develop. This means that the vision in the eye that is turning is blurry, and glasses alone will not make the person see clearly.

Vision Therapy programs offer much higher cure rates for turned eyes and/or lazy eye when compared to eye surgery, glasses, and/or patching, without therapy. The earlier the patient receives Vision Therapy the quicker and more effective the results.However, our office has successfully treated patients well into adulthood with both strabismus and amblyopia.

To learn more about crossed eyes or lazy eye, visit the many web pages of strabismus.org, children-special-needs.org or lazyeye.org.

Find out about eye muscle surgery as a treatment option for crossed eyes and lazy eye.

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Stress-induced Visual Difficulties
 

Twenty-first century lifestyles demand more from our vision than ever before. Children and adults in our technological society constantly use their near vision at both work and home. C.V.S. (Computer Vision Syndrome) is one of the fastest growing health concerns in the workplace today. Environmental stresses on the visual system (including excessive computer use or close work) can induce eyestrain, headaches, and/or visual difficulties which can be effectively treated with corrective lenses and/or Vision Therapy.

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Visual Rehabilitation for Traumatic Brain Injury
 

Vision can be compromised as a result of neurological disorders or trauma to the nervous system such as traumatic brain injuries, stroke, and whiplash,. Vision Therapy can effectively treat the visual consequences of trauma including double vision, tracking and focusing dysfunctions, and compensations for visual field loss.

To learn more about brain injuries and vision, visit braininjuries.org.

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Sports Vision Improvement
 

Strong visual skills are critical to sports success. Not much happens in sports until your eyes instruct your hands and body what to do! Accurate vision and athletic visual skills can be measured, developed, and enhanced through Vision Therapy. We measure and successfully improve eye-hand coordination, visual reaction time, peripheral awareness, eye teaming, focusing, tracking, and visualization skills.

Vision Therapy can be the answer to many visual problems. Don't hesitate to contact us with your questions. To read definitions for Vision Therapy by outside sources, visit children-special-needs.org.

Before a vision therapy program can be implemented, a thorough assessment must be made by the optometrist. This requires in-depth analysis and testing in the areas of difficulty, and may last up to three hours. Your Vision therapy program is administered in our office under the direct guidance of your doctor.

Vision therapy does require a number of office visits over a period of time ranging from several weeks to a number of months. During each visit, the doctor will check your progress and teach you your new home exercises and activities. Home involvement and compliance is absolutely necessary from our patients, as we currently do not have the facilities to offer ‘in-office’ only vision therapy. Vision therapy can effectively treat tracking or eye movement disorders, inefficient eye teaming, misaligned eyes or strabismus, , focusing problems, and other visual information processing and perceptual delays and disorders.

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The following are some frequently asked questions about vision therapy.

 
Is Vision Therapy New?
 

Although it is a dynamic optometric specialty that improves visual function and performance, vision therapy is actually an outgrowth of orthoptics. Orthoptics, which literally means "straightening of the eyes,” was introduced to this country by physicians in the mid 1800s. As physicians became more focused on medication and surgery, the benefits of orthoptics were taught to fewer and fewer practitioners. However, optometrists in the mid 1900's took the best that orthoptics had to offer, and pioneered the development of modern vision therapy.

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What Is Involved in a Vision Therapy Program?
 

Patients typically come to the office once every two weeks for thirty minutes each visit. In addition, a workbook and equipment is included which contains instruction for activities to be done at home to reinforce what was learned during the office therapy sessions. Commitment to the therapy program and maintaining a schedule of bi-weekly visits are important in the success of the program.

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Can I Just Do the Therapy at Home by Myself?
 

Vision therapy programs are individualized for the patient, and careful guidance and frequent monitoring are required for success. When attempted by patients without guidance, poor visual habits may actually be reinforced, and the development of ‘splinter skills’ may actually make proper treatment at a later date impossible Specialty computer programs with liquid crystal polarizing goggles and other specialized instrumentation are used which do not lend themselves to unsupervised use at home. The use of lenses and prisms which are a vital component of many vision therapy programs are also classed as a ‘restricted activity’ in Alberta, and may only be used under the direction of a licensed eyecare professional.

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Will My Insurance Cover Vision Therapy?
 

Some of the better health insurance policies cover the medical aspect of vision therapy. Coverage has no relationship to vision care plans which cover eye examinations, eyeglasses, or contact lenses once every year or two. Insurance companies do require some very particular vision codes, so please ask your optometrist to complete the necessary insurance information package for you. Do not allow insurance companies to make arbitrary decisions that prevent you or your child from receiving necessary care.

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How Long Does Vision Therapy Last?
 

When the program is complete, the benefits of vision therapy will last for a lifetime. Accurate focusing and the efficient use of both eyes together is a reflex which, when conditioned, should operate effortlessly. Self-monitoring activities are prescribed at the end of each therapy program. Non-medical vision therapy, as related to visual perception, prepares children for lifelong learning, and it fills in gaps for many adults who have lost visual skills and abilities.

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