What Is Vision Therapy?
Vision Therapy is a treatment program comprised of vision procedures using specialized instruments performed under doctor supervision and individualized to fit the visual needs of each patient. The sessions are typically conducted in-clinic, once or twice a week. The treatments, supplemented with assigned home activities are designed to help patients develop and improve fundamental visual skills and abilities, improve visual comfort and efficiency and change how one processes or interprets visual information. Some visual deficiencies cannot be effectively treated with glasses or contacts alone and vision therapy is recommended.
The goal of Optometric Vision Therapy is not to strengthen eye muscles, but rather to retrain the neuro-muscular system and processing integration. Optometric Vision Therapy should not be confused with any self-directed program of “eye exercises” being marketed to the public. The results and effectiveness of vision therapy is supported by ongoing evidence-based clinical research.
Vision Therapy is usually the treatment program for individuals who have learning-related vision problems contributing to their reading and learning difficulties. These individuals generally have deficiencies in one or several of the following:
. Eye movement skills – How smoothly and accurately one can move their eyes in unison across a printed page in a textbook.
. Eye focusing abilities – How well one can change focus from far to near and back again (for copying information from the board, as an example) and sustain clarity of vision for prolonged near work and reading.
. Eye teaming skills – How well an individual’s eyes work together as a synchronized team in sending a single stable image to the brain for processing.
. Binocular vision skills – Ability of one’s eyes to blend visual images from both eyes into a single, three-dimensional image.
. Visual perceptual skills – Developed process by which one can identify and understand what they see, judge its importance, and associate it with previous visual information stored in their brain.
. Visual-motor integration – The quality of an individual’s eye-hand coordination, which is important not only for sports, but also for legible handwriting and the ability to efficiently copy written information from a book or chalkboard.
Today’s society places a premium on vision. Academic and work performance require sustained visual demands of accurate and efficient processing of increasing amounts of printed and computer information. In addition, success in sports and extracurricular activities depends heavily on accurate and efficient visual skills, including eye hand coordination and depth perception.
Patients of all ages can benefit from Vision Therapy. Some examples of adults who can benefit:
Frequent computer users who experience eye strain, headaches and discomfort
Athletes who want to improve visual reaction and hand-eye coordination
Adults who have suffered a stroke or head trauma
Vision is our dominant sense and the majority of sensory input to the brain is related to vision. The eyes being direct extensions of the brain gather and send information to the brain for interpretation to direct thought and action. This process of Vision allows us to understand and interact with our world and consists of the following 3 components:
. Visual Pathway Integrity – eye health, eyesight, and refractive error (i.e. nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism)
. Visual Efficiency Skills – eye focusing, eye teaming, and eye tracking
. Visual Processing Skills – including discrimination, spatial awareness, memory, attention, visualization, perception, and integration with other systems.
Repetitive demands on the visual system may lead to difficulties for individuals with visual system deficiencies. Signs and symptoms of vision deficiencies include blurry vision, headaches, fatigue, errors on assignments, and loss of place or words moving on the page when reading. These symptoms bring about difficulty with attention and comprehension, causing 2 to 3 times more effort than normal for task completion or avoidance of visual demanding tasks altogether.
The OCVT Vision Therapy Program retrains the neuro-muscular coordination of the eyes, and stimulates neuro -pathways and processing to enhance comfort and performance. Individuals learn how to develop their deficient visual skills and integrate them with other systems so they are efficient and automatic. OCVT’s objective is to meet the patient’s needs, abate all signs and symptoms, achieve full potential and improve the patient’s quality of life.