What Is Vision (Eye/Optometric) Therapy?
Vision therapy, or therapy to aid ailing eyes, is an individualized program of prescribed activities that redevelop and strengthen neural connections between the brain and body parts that produce visual images. Therapists use specialized instruments and computers alongside therapeutic activities to help patients improve deficient visual skills.
Through repetition and intensity, the improved and developed skills become automatic and transfer to everyday functions that impact academic, work, and sports performance. It is the treatment of choice for diagnosed visual disorders that contribute to reading and learning difficulties.
OCVT’s Vision Therapy Program
OCVT’s vision therapy treatment program consists of doctor-prescribed and supervised, one-on-one, weekly in-clinic sessions directed by a highly trained vision therapist. To reinforce the developed skills in the clinic, a specialized program of activities is implemented at home.
Regular progress evaluations monitor a patient’s steps forward and help modify treatments as needed. The duration of our visual and eye therapy program depends on patients’ performance levels on standardized testing, signs and symptoms of visual difficulty, and each patient’s individual needs. The program can vary from a few months to several months.
How Does Vision Therapy Work?
Vision therapy is a treatment program that comprises many individualized vision procedures using specialized instruments performed under doctor supervision.
Therapy sessions are typically conducted in-clinic, once a week. The treatments, supplemented with assigned home activities, are designed to help patients develop and improve fundamental visual skills and abilities, enhance visual comfort and efficiency, and change how they process or interpret visual information.
Some visual deficiencies cannot be effectively treated with glasses or contacts alone, in which case we recommend vision therapy.
When and Why Is Vision Therapy Needed?
The goal of optometric vision therapy is not to strengthen eye muscles, but rather to retrain the neuromuscular 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 visual therapy are supported by ongoing evidence-based clinical research.
Individuals who have learning-related vision problems contributing to their reading and learning difficulties often seek vision therapy. These individuals generally have deficiencies in one or several of the following:
- Eye movement skills – How smoothly and accurately one can move his or her eyes in unison across a printed page in a textbook.
- Eye focusing abilities – How well one can change focus from far to near objects and sustain clarity of vision for prolonged periods of work and reading.
- Eye teaming skills – How well an individual’s eyes work together to send a single, stable image to the brain for processing.
- Binocular vision skills – The 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 he or she sees, judge its importance, and associate it with previous visual information stored in their brain.
- Visual-motor integration – The quality of an individual’s hand-eye 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 and accurate visual processing. In addition, success in sports and extracurricular activities depends heavily on accurate and efficient visual skills, including hand-eye coordination and depth perception. Visual and eye therapy can help maximize potential in fields that require exceptional vision, as well.
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
- Dizziness and balance issues
- Double vision, lazy eyes, and eye turns
Visual processes allow us to understand and interact with our world normally. They are:
- Visual Pathway Integrity – eye health, eyesight, and refractive error (i.e. nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism)
- Visual Efficiency Skills – focusing, teaming, and tracking
- Visual Processing Skills – discrimination, spatial awareness, memory, attention, visualization, perception, and integration with other systems.
Signs and symptoms of vision deficiencies include blurry vision, headaches, fatigue, errors on ordinary tasks, and loss of place when reading. These symptoms bring about attention and comprehension difficulties, which causes sufferers to exert 2 to 3 times more effort than normal for task completion.
Individuals who undergo the OCVT Vision Therapy Program 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 of visual difficulty, achieve full visual potential, and improve the patient’s quality of life.
Who Can Benefit from Visual (Eye/Optometric) Therapy?
The patients we see most commonly deal with such conditions as:
- Learning-Related Vision Disorders (related to reading, spelling, math, and/or writing)
- Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Balance/Dizziness Disorders
- Behavior-Related Vision Deficiencies
- Brain Injury
- Convergence Insufficiency/Eye Teaming
- Double Vision
- Eye Focusing Problems
- Eye Tracking Deficiencies
- Learning Challenges – Giftedness
- Special Needs
- Sports Enhancement Needs
- Strabismus (Eye Turns)
- Visual Processing Deficiencies
These conditions affect the daily life of individuals who seek our help. If your visual condition has become a daily obstacle, it may be time to consult a visual therapist. This list of conditions is not exhaustive, and OCVT has the expertise and instrumentation necessary to treat unusual visual impairments, as well.
Start a conversation with us to learn if we can help improve the visual and cognitive function of you or someone you love.