Vision Therapy

Our vision depends on healthy eyes and our cognitive ability to process visual information effectively. Vision therapy provides assistance for people who have problems processing visual information.

What is Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is an intervention used by optometrists that describes the ways in which visual processing and the ability to interpret information through the eyes is developed and improved. Vision Therapy is used in people who lack visual efficiency, ease, comfort, and skills. The belief that Vision Therapy is just a fancy way to describe eye exercises is rather antiquated and belies the ways in which it can strengthen weak eye muscles and more. Vision Therapy helps patients re-learn and understand how they see. More accurately, it relates to interactions along the brain’s neural networks, affects changes that occur along neuronal pathways that allow new connections to develop, and enables environmental remapping to occur. 

The concept that makes vision therapy possible is known as neuroplasticity.
In order to provide comprehensive, personalized care, vision therapies must be carefully designed to meet the optic needs of not only each person but in some cases, each of their eyes! Much like physical therapy (PT) can be used to treat more than one condition in more than one part of the body, Vision Therapy functions similarly, but within an optical framework. And like PT, Vision Therapy programs must be designed as part of a supervised regimen that addresses perceptual disconnects, cognitive deficiencies, eye focus and movements, tracking, teaming, and overall visual efficiency.

How is Vision Therapy Performed?

While there is no one-size-fits-all therapeutic method for all Vision Therapy recipients, they all share certain modalities. For example, Vision Therapy:
Is generally performed by an optometrist who offers Vision Therapy or a vision therapist supervised by an optometrist.
Can benefit individuals of all ages
Is sometimes used as a safe alternative to surgery
Must be performed in consonance with scientifically sound, evidence-based methods, and
Is frequently augmented by the use of filters, prisms, and 3D activities.

What Conditions Can Vision Therapy Treat?

Vision Therapy is not a substitute for other forms of visual aids and interventions and can be used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions and diagnoses. The following list of diagnoses that Vision Therapy can improve is not exhaustive but offers a taste of how life-changing this corrective modality can be for patients who contend with these conditions.

Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is the result of a sudden blow to the head caused by some form of external blunt force trauma. TBI can occur as the result of a car accident, motorcycle crash, assault, falls, and sports injuries. No matter the cause, however, a traumatic brain injury can upset the signals throughout the brain’s visual system, leading to a host of visual impairments that includes difficulty focusing (accommodative dysfunction), difficulty focusing on objects in a busy visual setting (ambient visual functioning), sensitivity to light (photophobia), poor vision, blurred vision, and more.

Binocular Coordination

When our eyes are unable to work together in order to create the three-dimensional images of our world, binocular vision can become difficult or unattainable. Some of the most common results of binocular discoordination include poor eye-hand coordination, difficulty controlling eye movements, and figure-ground perception

Convergence Insufficiency

Diagnosed most frequently in school-age children, convergence insufficiency is a condition in which the eyes are unable to focus and work reliably with one another in order to accurately perceive visual stimuli. Presentation of such insufficiency varies from person to person and can present as eyes that turn inward, outward, and cause blurred or double vision.

Amblyopia

When eyes are poorly aligned, the brain has a hard time processing incoming input. When this imbalance occurs, the brain ultimately favors one eye, allowing the “lazy eye,” also known as amblyopia, to turn inward or outward. This movement results in decreased vision and increased difficulty for the eyes to work together.

Diplopia

Known also as “double vision,” diplopia occurs when a person sees two images of one object. Double vision in one eye is called monocular diplopia, and binocular when it occurs in both eyes. Conditions that often accompany diplopia include poor depth perception, pain, headaches, nausea, droopy eyelids, and a cross-eyed appearance. Both diplopia and its attendant conditions respond extremely well to Vision Therapy.

Strabismus

Strabismus is present when the eyes are poorly aligned. Different from amblyopia, strabismus is determined by how one or both eyes turn and is marked by eyes that do not point in the same direction at the same time

Vision Therapy and Learning Disabilities

The eyes are described as the windows to the soul but are in fact our windows to just about everything we see and perceive. How we visualize letters, numbers, and words, as well as maintain the focus required to make sense of these stimuli, can greatly impact how we understand our world and function within it. And for those who struggle in any of these areas, Vision Therapy can be a lifesaver. ward. As a result of these difficulties, math anxiety is often very high in this population.

ADHD

Though not a learning disability per se, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can mimic signs of disorders for which Vision Therapy is beneficial. For people who are unable to focus on their work or alternatively, hyperfocus on tasks at hand, it can appear as though their primary issues lay with their vision. For those with ADHD, Vision Therapy can improve eye function, convergence, and help with both visual and behavioral focus. Vision Therapy also works well in conjunction with behavior modification and medication management for this population

Why is Vision Therapy Important?

Vision Therapy is a critical intervention for a variety of optic disorders and has proven itself to be an effective way to treat chronic, often painful conditions of the eye. Vision Therapy does not seek to replace what works, but rather, work in conjunction with and support what does. And more than that, Vision Therapy is a means to an improved quality of life through an understanding of neuroplasticity and the brain’s role in what we once thought was just an eye problem.

How Vision Therapy Helps

So how does Vision Therapy help? For starters, Vision Therapy is, if you will, like a mental gym in which the brain can be retrained to perform the way it is supposed to. While optical problems present through the eyes, most actually begin in the brain. Vision Therapy targets the underlying stressors and inadequate skills the brain has learned in order to retrain neural pathways that allow for better visual functioning.

Vision Therapy encompasses, and achieves, a host of goals. Not only can it help people see better and more clearly, but treat the conditions that so often accompany these disorders. By treating and improving double vision, poor visual alignment, there tends to be a decrease in the frequency of headaches, discomfort, and fatigue that is often experienced when the eyes are forced to work in ways they just can’t.

Quality of Life

Individuals who cannot read as quickly as their peers, see things as presented, or have visual problems that compromise their social interactions, often feel inadequate, less-than, and incompetent. And when these feelings set in, individuals with these disorders may act out or misbehave because they are tired- tired of not being able to follow along, tired of not understanding what everyone else seems to be getting, tired of not fully comprehending their environment and what’s expected of them. Without the proper treatment, these individuals may be written off as “behavior problems,” misdiagnosed, misprescribed, mistreated, and left with poor self-esteem. And when people don’t feel good about who they are and what they can achieve, they are less likely to set goals for improvement of any kind.

Who Benefits from Vision Therapy?

Vision Therapy can help anyone of any age. While being treated earlier is always better, adults can also benefit from Vision Therapy. Vision Therapy helps individuals who have experienced concussions and brain trauma, as well as those whose neuro-visual deficits impede their ability to read, write, and learn. And while the benefits of vision therapy may take longer to achieve in some populations, it can greatly improve not only the skills they once lacked but their overall sense of self.

Vision therapy is a modality whose time has come and demonstrates that seeing is truly believing. Schedule an appointment with our eye doctors who have extensive experience and training in improving the full spectrum of vision.

Understanding Vision Therapy

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