What is vision therapy?
Vision Therapy is physical therapy for the eyes and brain. The eyes are direct physical extensions of the brain and therefore are a very important part of neurological aspect. We do not see with just our eyes; we also see with out minds and images are formed in our brain.
Vision therapy is a regimen prescribed as individualized treatment for a patient in one of the following situations:
- Provide treatment that is medically necessary for a patient who has been diagnosed with visual dysfunctions.
- Preventative of developing visual problems.
- As an enhancement of visual performance for a patient’s specific areas of need.
Some of the conditions Vision Therapy is used to treat are:
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Ocular Motor Dysfunctions
- Non-Strabismic and Strabismic Binocular Dysfunctions
- Visual Motor Disorders
- Visual Perceptual Disorders (visual information processing)
Vision Therapy is also known as:
- Visual Therapy
- Vision Training
- Visual Training
- Optometric Vision Therapy
- Developmental Optometry
- Behavioral Optometry
- Orthoptics (not entirely accurate)
- Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation
A systematic use of prisms, lenses, occlusion along with other appropriate materials, filters, modalities, equipment and procedures is important to an effective Optometric Vision Therapy regimen. Goals for a prescribed treatment regimen is to alleviate any signs or symptoms a patient has, meet a patient's needs by achieving their desired visual results, and improve a patient's quality of life.
Types of Vision Therapy Methods are:
- The Bates Method - Self-Directed Vision Improvement
Do NOT confuse The Bates Method with Vision Therapy. W.H. Bates, an ophthalmologist invented The Bates Method in the 1920s. Since his invention Optometric Vision Therapy has continued to improve and evolve with research, new treatment technologies, and cross-disciplinary work between occupational therapists, audiologists, neurologists, etc.
“The National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health has published new research on the Successful Treatment of Lazy Eye (Amblyopia) in Older Children and Treatment of Convergence Insufficiency.” Neuroscientists have conducted research on neuroplasticity which has shown the adult brain is much more capable of change than anyone previously thought was possible.
- Self-Help Eye Exercises with Kits, Pencil Push-ups, or Computer Programs
Do NOT confuse Self-help eye exercise programs like the Vision for Life program or the now defunct See Clearly Method with Vision Therapy. Any Vision Therapy regimen consists of therapeutic procedures that are supervised by a qualified professional, a vision therapist or an optometrist along with the use of medically regulated devices (special lenses and prisms). Binocular vision conditions such as Strabismus, Amblyopia, Anisometropia, or Convergence Disorders are not good conditions for substituting a professional evaluation and treatment with as elf-directed eye exercise program.
- Vision Therapy is Not Just Orthoptics
There are broad distinctions between orthoptics and Vision therapy, but programs include orthoptics.
Orthoptics goal is to treat binocular vision disorders like diplopia and strabismus. Orthoptics is a treatment practiced by ophthalmologists, optometrists, along with orthoptists, and occupational therapists under the guidance of an ophthalmologist or pediatric ophthalmologist.
Optometrist who specialize in the field of Vision Therapy primarily practice behavioral vision. Additional problems are treated in behavior vision that includes concentration and visual attention difficulties. The inability to shift focus from one area to another or to sustain focus could manifest and negatively affect a person’s life such as with reading. This can cause problems in a person’s avocation and vocation.