Lazy eye, crossed eyes, double vision, reading and learning disabilities: These are just a few of the vision and cognitive problems that can be helped by vision therapy. But what exactly is it, and how does it work?
Vision Therapy Defined
You’ve probably heard of, or even been to, physical therapy. Vision therapy (sometimes called vision training or VT) is like physical therapy for the visual system, teaching the eyes and the brain to overcome certain visual problems. An alternative to surgical treatment, it’s supervised by an optometrist and is always customized to the patient.
The goal? To change how a patient processes or interprets visual information and to train all the anatomy involved in vision to operate more efficiently, enhancing a patient’s ability to perform certain tasks.
Like a physical therapist, a vision therapist will give a patient exercises to improve visual skills. Sometimes these exercises will be done in an eye doctor’s office, and other times they may be assigned for home practice.
Vision therapy uses specialized equipment and tools—like prisms, therapeutic lenses, patches, and balance boards—to help patients perform visual activities and exercises.
What Vision Therapy Isn’t
It’s not about making eye muscles stronger, and it doesn’t mean you (or your child) will be able to ditch glasses or contact lenses.
Some programs claim that doing self-directed “eye exercises” can correct nearsightedness or other refractive errors. These programs aren’t backed by scientific research and are not what VT is all about.
It’s also not just for kids. Even though we associate learning disorders and other conditions with children and development, vision therapy can help people of all ages.
What Conditions Can Vision Therapy Treat?
Glasses and contacts are important for helping you see clearly, but there are a number of vision conditions that aren’t treatable with corrective eyewear. Vision therapy programs are designed to treat a variety of vision problems and even reading and learning disorders:
- Amblyopia, or lazy eye
- Eye focusing (accommodative dysfunction)
- Eye teaming (binocular vision dysfunction)
- Eye tracking (oculomotor dysfunction)
- Visual perceptual and processing deficits
For children and adults who struggle with reading or learning and who aren’t helped by glasses alone, vision therapy can help bridge the gap to greater comfort and confidence. VT can be effective for those who experience things like:
- Eye strain or headaches when accomplishing visual tasks
- Poor depth perception or hand-eye coordination
- Difficulties processing visual information
- Skipping words or losing their place when reading
- Vision that gets blurry or trouble focusing when taking notes, reading or working on a computer.
Do you or your child suffer from any of these conditions and want to learn more about whether or not VT could be a potential treatment option? All vision therapy programs start with a comprehensive eye exam and consultation. Schedule yours today.