There is more to vision therapy than simply strengthening the eyes. It also enhances the neurological connections between the eyes and the brain. Eyes are the windows of the brain. It directly influences sight based on how it interprets images received. A healthy connection between the eyes and the brain is essential for good eyesight and binocular function.
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the nature of vision therapy:
How does vision therapy work?
Vision therapy is safe, drug-free, and effective for both children and adults. While visual acuity (the “20/20” part of vision) requires glasses to improve, visual skills such as tracking together along a line of text must be learned during development, these skills can also be improved later in life at any age.
Vision therapy uses progressive vision exercises performed under the supervision of your eye care provider and supported by ongoing, evidence-based scientific research. Each set of exercises is tailored to meet the individual visual needs of a patient depending on the condition and age of the patient. These exercises are done once per week in sessions lasting 45 minutes. The exercises are designed to continue until visual processing problems show improvement and binocular vision issues are resolved. The length of therapy can vary from 2 months to many months.
What is the purpose of the vision exercises?
Vision exercises are designed to help patients improve basic visual skills that connect the eyes with the brain. These exercises can improve visual efficiency by changing how a patient interprets images. This helps them see and understand images correctly. The goal of therapy is alleviate their vision symptoms from the visual disorder. We work on improving the eyes ability to coordinate together and retrain the learned aspects of vision. Vision therapy is designed to improve visual comfort, ease, and efficiency.
Do these exercises simply strengthen eye muscles?
Nothing about vision therapy is centered on strengthening eye muscles. The eye muscles are already incredibly strong. This therapy is all about improving vision problems that may interfere with learning by strengthening the neurological pathways between the eyes and the brain.
What is the first step in a vision therapy program?
It is estimated that 1 in 10 children have a vision problem severe enough to affect their learning in school, but school vision screenings can miss up to half of these problems. A comprehensive vision exam with a developmental optometrist checks all aspects of eye health, vision, and visual skills, and can ensure you or your child is not struggling unnecessarily with an undiagnosed vision problem. Following this exam, vision therapy may or may not be recommended as the appropriate treatment plan.
Is there scientific evidence that it really works?
It does work. Studies on vision therapy show it is effective in improving the lives of patients. Data shows that this therapy can improve visual function enough to keep it from interfering with a patient’s ability to absorb information and learn. The College of Optometrist in Vision Development (COVD) provides great resources found at www.covd.org for those wanting to learn more about the evidence behind vision therapy.
Who typically needs vision therapy?
It can be a useful tool for helping children and adults alike. Children with learning or reading problems can benefit from the vision boost these exercises provide. Eyeglasses are not the solution when the problem is visual processing. These problems can’t be detected without tests done by an eye doctor. Adults can see vision improvement through this therapy as well. It can help curb eye-strain related vision processing problems brought on by working with computers all day. Vision therapy has also been proven to help this with traumatic brain injury, concussions, stroke related issues, double vision and other issues.
What are some signs & symptoms of a binocular vision problem?
These are the five most common signs that a vision problem may be interfering with reading and learning.
-Skipping lines or having to reread lines
-Poor reading comprehension
-Homework takes much longer than it should
-Letter reversals such as “b” and “d”
-Short attention span when reading or doing homework