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Vision Therapy: What Works and How Does it Help?

Vision Therapy: What Works and How Does it Help?

Vision therapy is a science-backed step-by-step plan of vision procedures that aim to treat or correct problems with vision. This program is typically facilitated by a behavioral or developmental optometrist and low vision specialist (ophthalmologist)―who have undergone specialized training―and is composed of exercises that are concentrated on practicing skills to retrain learned aspects of vision.

These include tracking, which pertains to eye movement, and teaming, which refers to eye coordination and focusing. It helps patients strengthen these visual skills and abilities and alters a patient’s visual processes and interpretation.

What are the Types of Vision Therapy?

There are three main types of vision therapy.

The first is orthoptic vision therapy, which is conducted weekly in a span of several months and is often used by pediatric ophthalmologists and orthoptists. This first category aids in proper binocular function.

The second type, behavioral or perceptual vision therapy, improves one’s visual processing and visual perception.

The third type covers the prevention or correction of myopia, or nearsightedness.

How Does Vision Therapy Work?

Vision therapy requires the supervision of a doctor and is tailored to one’s visual needs. It is normally conducted in-office, about one to two times a week for 30 minutes to one hour. Sometimes, these practices can be done at home.

It makes use of therapeutic lenses, prisms, filters, occluders or patches, timed electronic targets, balance boards as well as other tools made specifically for unique vision therapy activities.

Who Can Benefit From Vision Therapy?

Studies show that one in 10 children have visual issues that impact their academic life negatively, especially those whose eyes do not function well. Regardless of their visual acuity―which is defined as sharpness of vision―this type of therapy helps patients follow objects around them with their eyes.

Having normal visual acuity, that is, having “20/20 vision”, does not equate to have perfect vision. It merely gives a numerical measure for the sharpness or clarity of one’s vision at a certain distance.

Vision therapy addresses other essential visual skills, such as peripheral awareness (side vision), eye coordination (mentioned earlier with regards to teaming), depth perception, color vision, and focusing ability.

Vision therapy is useful for people, regardless of age, who are afflicted with amblyopia (“lazy eye”), convergence insufficiency, some forms of strabismus (misaligned eyes), and eye movement issues also known as oculomotor dysfunction, among other problems.

What Visual Issues Can Be Helped by Vision Therapy?

Amblyopia

This refers to poor vision occurring only in one eye. Information from the affected eye cannot be processed by the brain, thus resulting in a lack of coordination between the two. Its moniker, “lazy eye,” comes from the stronger eye being able to work better.

This condition starts in childhood and is the most common cause of vision loss in children. It affects three out of 100 kids, but treatment is effective and can prevent long-term vision problems.

Convergence insufficiency

This is when the eyes cannot work together when viewing objects close by. One eye turns inward rather than inwards with the other eye, resulting in double or blurred vision. This causes difficulty in reading and is often misdiagnosed as a learning difficulty.

Strabismus

This condition can either be “crossed eyes” or “walled eyes”. Strabismus causes issues with eye movement control, where treatment includes eye patches, glasses, eye exercises, topical medication, and surgery.

Oculomotor dysfunction

This disorder is caused by a developmental delay or brain trauma affecting the central nervous system that impairs the brain’s ability to coordinate the eyes so they move with accuracy and control.

Key Takeaways

Vision is undoubtedly one of the most important senses of any human and as such, proper care and intervention is necessary when compromised.

Vision therapy helps address these issues and has the capacity to aid both children and adults struggling in their day-to-day activities. It is important to remember that visual acuity is not an accurate measure of visual skills important to any person.

Learn more about Vision Problems here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

What is Vision Therapy?, https://www.covd.org/page/Vision_Therapy Accessed March 20, 2021

Vision Therapy, https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/treatments/vision-therapyAccessed March 20, 2021

Vision Therapy, https://aapos.org/glossary/vision-therapy Accessed March 20, 2021

Visual Acuity: What is 20/20 vision?, https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/vision-and-vision-correction/visual-acuity?sso=y Accessed March 20, 2021

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye), https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/amblyopia-lazy-eye Accessed March 20, 2021

Convergence insufficiency, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/convergence-insufficiency/symptoms-causes/syc-20352735 Accessed March 20, 2021

Strabismus (Crossed Eyes), https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15065-strabismus-crossed-eyes March 20, 2021

Oculomotor Dysfunction, https://ocvt.info/oculomotor-dysfunction/ Accessed March 20, 2021

 

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Written by Louise Nichole Logarta Updated May 19
Medically reviewed by Victor Ephraime V. Paulino, MD, DPBO