Vision therapy is a series of prescribed eye exercises to correct vision problems that glasses or contacts cannot correct. Think of it as "physical therapy for the eyes."
This can help people of all ages who have visual issues such as crossed eyes or lazy eyes, usually without the need for eye surgery. It also treats vision problems children have when using their eyes up close, especially at school. Problems with tracking, eye teaming, and focusing make it impossible for
children to read, learn, and remain on task.
The first step is to have your child seen by the doctor, who can diagnose his or her visual issues. if certain eye problems are found, then your child will have additional visual testing to determine if vision therapy is needed. These tests will evaluate your child's abilities with eye teaming, tracking, focusing, eye-hand coordination and perceptual skills, and a computerized recording of their eye movements during reading may also be taken.
After the testing, there will be a conference to explain everything that was learned about your child's visual skills. There will be visual demonstrations to help the parents understand how the visual system works. Then, the test results will be discussed, with explanations of how certain eye problems can cause difficulties with learning. If vision therapy is warranted, we will also go over costs, insurance coverage and available appointment times.
Each person's vision therapy program consists of an individualized treatment plan using lenses, visual exercises, specialized equipment, prisms, and possibly patching meant to correct the visual issues. There will also be daily home exercises to reinforce the visual skills your child learned in our office. Vision therapy typically is done one or two times per week, and can last approximately 4 to 8 months, depending on the severity of the eye condition and how often they are in the office. He or she will be seen regularly by the eye doctor to ensure that goals are being met.
The goal of vision therapy depends upon the patient's vision problem:
Weak visual skills can undermine the learning process and cause such problems as difficulty reading, double vision, headaches, eye strain, and short attention spans. For these patients, therapy improves their visual skills so they can function normally in the classroom.
Patients with crossed, turned, wandering, or lazy eyes only see with one eye at a time. Their brains suppress or "turns off" their weak eye. Therapy is designed to straighten the eye and teach the patient to use both eyes together for normal visual function.
The encouraging news for parents is vision therapy is very effective in treating vision-based learning problems. Once the problem has been correctly identified, vision therapy can return your child's visual system to normal!
Comments from Parents
As patients progress through therapy, improvement in their visual function results in a noticeably higher quality of life. Please read a few of the following examples of comments parents have made about the many ways vision therapy has helped their children.
My Daughter Had an Eye Teaming Problem:
"When I brought Megan to the vision therapy center, she hated to read. She would lose her place, put words in or leave words out, and sometimes she would turn words around. It was a constant battle last year to get her to do her homework, often taking two or three hours to do work that should have been finished in thirty minutes. Her report cards for the last two years were terrible. She was getting C's and D's. Then we found out she had an eye teaming and tracking problem which didn't let her eyes work together when she read. We started vision therapy to retrain the way she used her eyes, and we worked really hard. Now we're seeing the good results. On her last report card she had all B's and even one A. Megan is really enjoying reading now that her eyes are fixed. She has read forty books for her school reading program already this year! Best of all, homework is no longer a problem. She does her assignments as soon as she gets home from school and is finished in half an hour. The whole family is enjoying the results of her therapy. Thank you very much for making our evenings more enjoyable!"
Jason's Crossed Eye :
"Sometimes when I look at Jason's preschool pictures, I'm momentarily shocked by the crossed eye. It's so easy to forget--I'm used to seeing his eyes straight. I'm so glad we decided to put Jason in vision therapy. We'd been told by another doctor that surgery was Jason's best option, but my wife and I did our research. We knew that surgery could make the eye look better but not necessarily perform better. Also, we discovered that surgeries don't always hold and sometimes have to be repeated when the child is older. A friend told us about vision therapy. When we met with the doctor, everything he said about vision and Jason's crossed eye made sense--especially the part about having to teach Jason's brain how to use his two eyes together so there was no need for the weak eye to suppress and turn in. By the time Jason finished therapy, both eyes were perfectly straight, and he had normal vision and depth perception--all without surgery! I would strongly recommend that parents educate themselves on all of their treatment options."
Laura's Lazy Eye:
"Every time I looked at my daughter I felt guilty about her lazy eye because we hadn't found it until she was in the fourth grade. Two different eye doctors told us that nothing could be done to help Laura because she was too old and past the age when treatment would be effective. Thank heavens I found the vision therapy center and set up an appointment. She went from being nearly blind in her weak eye to normal vision! And to top it all off, she became the best hitter on her softball team. My husband and I are so thankful to the doctors and vision therapy staff. They not only helped our daughter achieve normal vision, but they saved us from some serious guilt!"