Vision Therapy

Vision Center is funded by our readers. We may earn commissions if you purchase something via one of our links.

What is Vision Therapy?

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.

The Science Behind Vision Therapy

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. 

What Eye Conditions Does Vision Therapy Treat?

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:

  • Amblyopia (more commonly known as lazy eye) — Amblyopia typically happens in one eye, but can occur in both. It develops if the brain cannot recognize the sight from the affected eye. If one eye is affected, the brain tends to favor the use of the other eye that sees better.
  • Strabismus — Strabismus refers to an eye misalignment in which one or both of the eyes turn inward or outward.
  • Esotropia — (more commonly known as crossed eyes) — Esotropia is an eye misalignment in which one or both eyes appear to be looking inward.
  • Exotropia — Exotropia is a type of strabismus (or eye misalignment) in which one or both of the eyes appear to turn outward. Essentially, it is the opposite of crossed eyes.
  • Dyslexia — Dyslexia refers to a learning disorder (and a reading disability) that involves difficulty reading. This is because someone with dyslexia has trouble identifying speech sounds and decoding letters and words.
  • Double vision — Double vision, which is also known as diplopia, happens when a person sees two of a single object. They may have either monocular or binocular double vision.

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 Techniques & Eye Exercises

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.

What is the Purpose of Vision Therapy?

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.

Who Performs Vision Therapy?

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.

What to Expect During 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.

Who Benefits from Vision Therapy?

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.

How to Make an Appointment for Vision Therapy

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.

Resources
left pointing arrow icon

“Amblyopia (Lazy Eye).” National Eye Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/amblyopia-lazy-eye

“Dyslexia.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 22 July 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dyslexia/symptoms-causes

“Exotropia.” Exotropia - American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, aapos.org/glossary/exotropia.

Jang, Jung Un, et al. “Effectiveness of Vision Therapy in School Children with Symptomatic Convergence Insufficiency.” Journal of Ophthalmic & Vision Research, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423373/

“Learning-Related Vision Problems” College of Optometrists in Vision Development, https://www.covd.org/page/learning

Piñero, David P. “Science-Based Vision Therapy.” Journal of Optometry, Elsevier, 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5030323/

Publishing, Harvard Health. “Double Vision (Diplopia).” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/double-vision-diplopia-a-to-z

Publishing, Harvard Health. “Seeing Your Way to Better Eye Health.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/seeing-your-way-to-better-eye-health

Russ. “What Is Vision Therapy?” Optometrists.org, 17 Mar. 2021, www.optometrists.org/vision-therapy/what-is-vision-therapy/

“Strabismus (Crossed Eyes).” AOA.org, www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/eye-and-vision-conditions/strabismus?sso=y

“Vision Therapy Service: Frequently Asked Questions: Boston Children's Hospital.” Boston Childrens Hospital, www.childrenshospital.org/centers-and-services/programs/o-_-z/vision-therapy-service-program/faqs

“Vision Therapy.” Vision Therapy - American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, aapos.org/glossary/vision-therapy.

“Vision Therapy: Boston Children's Hospital.” Boston Childrens Hospital, www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/treatments/vision-therapy

“What Is Vision Therapy?” College of Optometrists in Vision Development, www.covd.org/page/vision_therapy.

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram