Standard Eye Exams vs. Vision Therapy Eye Exams

What Is the Difference Between Regular and Vision Therapy Eye Exams?

The biggest difference between your standard eye exam and a vision therapy eye exam is the end goal:

  • standard eye exam looks at eye health needs and management, checking eye sight (i.e. 20/20) and assessing the need for glasses or contact lenses.
  • vision-therapy eye exam tests for visual function, such as assessing eye teaming, focus and tracking to determine if there is a deficiency how vision therapy can help improve functions of everyday, such as reading, school, work and sport performance.

In a vision therapy eye exam, specialized tools and equipment are used to assess the functions of vision that go beyond measuring eye sight, such as equipment that can tell if the brain is ignoring one eye or not using the eye muscles of each eye together to point precisely on the page.  Specialists who work in vision therapy employ medical knowledge based to the vision problems discovered through the specific exam to determine the relation to symptoms and overall function.

Doing so allows them to think more deeply about how vision problems affect existing issues with school, sport and work performance or tendencies of an individual such as slow reading, avoidance of school work, clumsiness, and more.  Doctors of vision therapy can individualize treatment plans for each patient to obtain their goals and highest potential in their areas of concern and analyze data and transfer to skills throughout the treatment program.

Advantages of Individualized Treatment Plans through Vision Therapy

Where glasses or contact lenses provide clear eye sight to an individual this is just one piece to the visual system, we really “see with our brains” and it is vision therapy that helps retrain the brain and rebuild its ability to fully use the function of vision. The greatest advantage of a vision therapy eye exam is the construction of a treatment plan that aims to help the brain find new ways of overcoming vision problems and with enough repetition, the brain learns life-long skills to support any vision demand post treatment, such as increasing school or work demands.

Vision therapy eye exams and their accompanying treatment plans provide:

  • Specific diagnoses – Through a vision therapy eye exam, you learn more about the underlying causes of problems related to your eyes and their function.
  • Options for treatment – Glasses and contacts treat eye sight issues, but some individuals that have lazy eyes or eye turns can still not benefit from glasses and need vision therapy to train the eyes and brain to see well through glasses and get depth perception. In some cases, glasses are not needed for eye sight but visual issues persist because of mechanics or processing of vision in which a vision therapy program can significantly improve quality of life and function for these individuals.  Vision therapy eye exams give the patient choices as to the approach for treatment of recurring problems.
  • Permanent or semi-permanent results – While a standard eye exam provides prescription glasses or contacts that enhance eye sight immediately, vision problems continue to grow and encompass much more than just eye sight. Vision therapy helps correct vision problems that go above and beyond just eye sight issues by teaching patients new strategies for overcoming visual impairment.

From the results of a vision therapy eye exam, patients have the freedom to choose how they approach treatment. With the help of doctor-recommended treatment plans, they can decide for themselves the best course of action.

When Should I Opt for a Vision Therapy Eye Exam?

The best time to receive a vision therapy exam is when vision problems, despite your best efforts when working with your eye doctor, continue to affect everyday life, work life, or school life.

However, if you notice that you or your child has vision problems, you can begin your journey to better eye health, visual efficiency, and comfort at a vision therapy clinic, as well. Problems such as strabismus (eye-turns), dyslexia, imbalance, and amblyopia (lazy eye) are often better addressed with vision therapy exams and treatment plans than with the traditional types of eye tests in a standard eye exam.

Deciding which type of eye exam to try first can be tough, but starting with a vision therapy eye exam gives you or your child the best chance of recovering naturally from vision problems.

For the most thorough of eye exams and treatments to address the root of your visual problems,  vision therapy exams are a clear choice. However, both types of exam have merit, so we recommend careful consideration before you plan for your next eye exam.  We offer a complimentary consultation to help you make this decision and care for your vision in the best way possible.

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