What is Vision Therapy?
The definition is very complex and after reviewing the Wikipedia information that fictitious Brittany’s mother may have perused she must have become even more confused by vision therapy. A better definition comes from the organization that certifies both doctors and therapists in the art and science of developmental optometry. The College of Optometrists in Vision Development is the world leader in this area.
“Optometric Vision Therapy is:
A progressive program of vision procedures
- Performed under doctor supervision
- Individualized to fit the visual needs of each patient
- Generally conducted in-office, in once or twice weekly sessions of 30 minutes to an hour
- Occasionally supplemented with procedures done at home between office visits
Depending on the case, the procedures are prescribed to:
- Help patients develop or improve fundamental visual skills and abilities
- Improve visual comfort, ease, and efficiency
- Change how a patient processes or interprets visual information
Optometric Vision Therapy Is Not Just Eye Exercises
Unlike other forms of exercise, the goal of Optometric Vision Therapy is not to strengthen eye muscles. Your eye muscles are already incredibly strong. Optometric Vision Therapy should not be confused with any self-directed program of eye exercises which is or has been marketed to the public. Optometric vision therapy is supported by ongoing evidence-based scientific research. Here you can read the latest research published on optometric vision therapy.”
However, this definition just does not tell us what vision therapy encompasses.
The Optometrist Network offers an alternative definition.
“Vision Therapy is an individualized, supervised, treatment program designed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies. Vision Therapy sessions include procedures designed to enhance the brain’s ability to control:
- eye alignment,
- eye tracking and eye teaming,
- eye focusing abilities,
- eye movements, and/or visual processing.
Visual-motor skills and endurance are developed through the use of specialized 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.
Now that we have established a working definition for Vision Therapy its important to note who benefits from Vision Therapy.
Who Benefits from Vision Therapy?
Typically children and adults with visual challenges, such as:
Learning-related Vision Problems have benefited from these services.
- 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-hand activity, visual memory skills, and other related visual processing issues.).
Poor Binocular (2-eyed) 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, performance in many areas can suffer (reading, sports, depth perception, eye contact, etc.).
Convergence Insufficiency (common near vision disorder)
- Recent scientific research — funded by the National Eye Institute and conducted at Mayo Clinic — has proven that in-office Vision Therapy is the best treatment for Convergence Insufficiency.
Amblyopia (lazy eye), Diplopia (double vision), and Strabismus (cross-eyed, wandering eye, eye turns, etc.)
- 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 better, however, our office successfully treats patients well past 21 years of age.
- Recent scientific research has disproven the long held belief that children with lazy eye, or amblyopia, can’t be helped after age 7.
Stress-related Visual Problems – Blurred Vision, Visual Stress from Reading and Computers, Eye Strain Headaches, and/or Vision-induced Stomachaches or Motion Sickness
- 21st century life demands more from our vision than ever before. Many children and adults constantly use their near vision at school, work and home. Environmental stresses on the visual system (including excessive computer use or close work) can induce blurred vision, eyestrain, headaches, etc.
Visual Rehabilitation for Special Needs – Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Stroke, Birth Injury, Brain Damage, Head Injury, Whiplash, Cerebral Palsy, MS, etc.
- Vision can be compromised as a result of neurological disorders or trauma to the nervous system. Vision Therapy can effectively treat the visual consequences of brain trauma (including double vision).
Sports Vision Improvement
- Strong visual skills are critical to sports success. Not much happens in sports until your eyes instruct your hands and body as to what to do! We can measure and successfully improve eye-hand coordination, visual reaction time, peripheral vision, eye focusing, eye tracking and teaming, visualization skills, and more.”
To summarize, the definition for vision therapy is at best complex and complicated. Vision and Vision Processing is involved from Amblyopia to Sports Vision and everything in between.