One can think of vision therapy as physical therapy for the eyes and brain. The neurological aspect is very important because the eyes are direct physical extensions of the brain. When you think about it, vision occurs in the brain, not the eyes (which are more like tools for the brain). If the brain has not learned to use the eyes properly, then it's similar to giving an automobile mechanic's tool kit to someone who is not a mechanic - even with the right tools, a tune-up or brake job is simply impossible.
Vision therapy is a highly effective non-surgical treatment for many common visual problems such as:
In many cases VT is compensatory in nature, not curative, i.e., it doesn't eliminate the condition, but rather helps one to live and function more comfortably with it. Many patients who have been told "it's too late" or "you'll have to learn to live with it" have benefited remarkably from vision therapy. In the case of learning disabilities, vision therapy is specifically directed toward resolving vision problems that interfere with reading and learning; it is not, per se, a cure for learning disabilities.
In a nutshell, VT is a progressive, structured series of exercises designed to improve one's visual capabilities and skills.
Specifically, it is:
The latter option is the one we normally employ at OPTOM~EYES, with an expected commitment of:
30 minutes a day, 5 days a week
(weekends should typically be VT work days)
6 in-office sessions (bi-weekly) over a 3-month period (45 minutes each)
VT should not be confused with any self-directed, self-help program of eye exercises which has been marketed to the public. It is properly supervised by optometric vision care professionals, and many types of specialized and/or medical devices are used, such as:
VT can offer great help for children with learning difficulties or behavior problems, such as ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, or oculomotor (reading/tracking) dysfunction. It’s a fact that many behavioral diagnoses can be traced to a vision problem that is screaming for attention. Vision and sensorimotor deficits can cause eyestrain, headaches, blurred or double vision, loss of place while reading, and difficulty maintaining attention when doing close work. Even intelligent, highly motivated individuals can be severely handicapped by these vision problems in the academic environment. Correcting these deficits allows them to use their eyes as intended and to achieve their full potential in the classroom.
Contrary to popular thought, VT is not only for children. Many adults find that vision therapy can improve vision impairment; even in cases in which visual problems have been previously pronounced incurable or hopeless by other vision care professionals.
Most vision conditions which can be treated in a child can be treated in an adult as well. Current research has conclusively demonstrated that effective treatment can take place at any age, but the length of the treatment period may increase the longer the condition has existed prior to treatment.
The first step in any vision therapy program is a comprehensive vision examination. Following a thorough evaluation which includes appropriate near-point testing, the optometrist can advise the patient as to whether vision therapy should be considered an appropriate form of treatment.