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Vision therapy refers to a type of therapy that eye care professionals perform on patients to develop or improve their vision. For example, vision therapy may help the patient’s visual processing skills. Visual therapists use a variety of techniques to help patients with vision problems build their visual skills and abilities.
An optometric vision therapy program usually involves both in-office visits with the visual therapist and at-home reinforcement exercises that the patient is expected to do on their own, like homework. They should perform these exercises over a few weeks to a few months to strengthen their vision over time.
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Behavioral vision therapy is not scientifically proven. There is little evidence that vision therapy slows the progression of myopia or corrects it.
However, one study, published in the Journal of Ophthalmic and Vision Research (JOVR), found that vision therapy was effective for school children with symptomatic convergence insufficiency. Symptomatic convergence insufficiency is a condition in which the eyes cannot work in unison when observing nearby objects.
If a teacher notices that a student is having a difficult time reading in class, they may suggest seeing a visual therapist. But even some adults need visual therapy. Visual therapy can help those with certain eye conditions strengthen their vision.
Vision therapy can treat many types of eye conditions. These include, but are not limited to:
If you believe that you have one of the above eye conditions, or have been diagnosed with one of them, talk to your eye doctor about vision therapy. Visual exercises may be able to help improve your vision and alleviate learning problems.
Vision therapy uses sensory-motor-perceptual stimulation paradigms and practices that are used to improve eye movement control, eye coordination, visual perception, eye tracking, eye teaming, and other skills. It may also help strengthen the eye muscles.
Visual therapists can use different techniques depending on the patient’s needs. For example, they may implement advanced technology and computer-based therapies to engage patients. Or they may use lenses (or “training glasses”), filters, patches, prisms, balance boards, electronic targets, and other tools to help improve the patients’ vision.
The purpose of vision therapy is to help people with vision problems see better. Vision therapy can help them build their visual skills and abilities.
For many people, especially children in school, vision therapy is imperative. Vision can drastically impact someone’s ability to learn and to absorb new information — especially visual information. Vision therapy can help learners see better and perform better in school.
Either optometrists or ophthalmologists may perform vision therapy.
Optometrists are professionals with state licenses. They are accredited to screen patients for eye diseases and vision defects. They can also prescribe glasses and fit contact lenses.
Meanwhile, ophthalmologists are board-certified physicians who obtain specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of various eye issues.
Both optometrists and ophthalmologists are qualified to aid in vision therapy.
Expect to talk to your eye doctor about your vision problems and goals. Your eye doctor will do an eye exam and ask you to perform a variety of exercises. You will likely have to practice them at home on your own time, as well.
In general, a typical vision therapy program will consist of about six hour-long meetings with the vision therapist that are scheduled around three-week intervals.
Vision does not just improve overnight. Expect to participate in vision therapy for at least a few months to see improvements. How long your program needs to be depends on your vision, your vision problems, and your vision goals. Your eye doctor can talk with you to determine the best course of action.
People with visual problems or a weak visual system can benefit from vision therapy.
In particular, school children who have trouble reading and learning because of their vision can greatly benefit from vision therapy.
Research shows that one in 10 children have a vision problem that leads to learning problems in school, but school vision screenings may miss upwards of half of these. Vision therapy can help.
Reach out to your eye doctor to talk about vision therapy. They may double as a vision therapist and be able to perform vision therapy themselves. Many of them also have a developmental optometrist or ophthalmologist who they can recommend to you.
It also does not hurt to talk to your eye doctor about whether or not vision therapy is right for you. Your doctor may recommend a different course of action, such as medication, eyeglasses, contacts, or corrective surgery, depending on your vision care needs.
Vision training can vastly improve your visual acuity. Don’t wait to make an appointment.
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