Vision therapy can help people at many stages of life. Vision therapy is an effective treatment modality for many vision conditions in both children and adults. Vision therapy is a type of treatment that you may need if you experience:
Discomfort (visual/eye strain, headaches, etc) during visual tasks, such as reading or computer work
Blurred or fluctuating vision while performing near tasks (reading, computer, gaming, etc) or when transitioning focus between distance and near (such as when taking notes in class)
Double vision, even if experienced occasionally,
Tracking difficulties that may impair reading fluency (skipping words, re-reading lines, loss of place, etc)
Impaired depth perception that causes poor eye-hand coordination and makes a person appear 'clumsy'
Difficulties processing visual information, making it difficult to keep up with the pace of life, work or school
Vision therapy is often times the best treatment option for patients who experience deficits with eye tracking, eye teaming, eye focusing and visual processing. By addressing the underlying vision conditions, patients often experience significant improvements in visual tasks, such as reading, working on the computer for extended periods of time, scanning of the visual environment (while driving or playing sports for example) and performing under timed conditions.
KIDS STRUGGLING WITH READING OR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Vision plays a central role in the learning process. In fact, more than 80% of classroom learning occurs through the visual system. Imagine trying to take notes when the board at the front of the classroom is blurry, or attempting to read when the words appear to move on the page or become double. Studies have shown that something as simple as an uncorrected refractive error can impact learning and emerging reading skills.
Some reports in literature estimate that as many as 1 in 4 children have a vision condition significant enough to impact learning. It is important to remember that not all vision conditions result in blurry vision (many children who need vision therapy can see 20/20) and not all conditions are corrected with glasses. The presence of eye tracking, eye teaming, eye focusing and visual processing deficits can have significant impacts on the learning process and should be treated as soon as possible.
If a child is struggling with reading or learning, it is important to determine the cause of the struggles (whether they be visual in nature or not). Given the significant role vision plays in the learning process, ruling out a vision condition should be one of the early steps in the process. Efforts, such as more time reading at home or a reading tutor, will be less effective if an underlying vision condition remains untreated.
While not all challenges in school are vision-related, treating and removing visual barriers to success is a critical early step in a comprehensive approach to helping your child succeed. It is important to know that vision therapy does not treat learning disabilities, but it does effectively treat vision conditions that impact learning and often are misdiagnosed as a non-visual problem. The types of vision problems that impact learning are often overlooked during a general eye exam. It is important that you work with a team who understands vision, vision development and the vision conditions that impact learning. An eye examination with a Residency-Trained Pediatric Optometrist and a Binocular Vision Assessment with an optometrist who is Residency-Trained in binocular vision is the best way to rule out a vision condition impacting learning.
INDIVIDUALS IN SUPPORTIVE THERAPIES
(OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY, PHYSICAL THERAPY, SPEECH/LANGUAGE THERAPY)
Vision impacts more than your ability to read 20/20 on the eye chart. Eye tracking, eye teaming, eye focusing and visual processing deficits impact one's functional abilities. These vision conditions negatively affect visual-motor tasks (eye-hand skills), visual-vestibular tasks (balance & mobility) and even language processing (visual-auditory speech integration).
It is important that vision conditions be treated to minimize their impact on functional abilities. Additionally, untreated vision conditions can stall or prevent progress with other therapies such as occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech-language therapy. Integrating a vision therapy program at Advanced Vision Therapy Center as part of a comprehensive treatment plan can improve progress and overall efficiency of concurrent therapies.
Even if a vision problem is not suspected, it is important that those participating in occupational therapy, physical therapy or speech therapy have a Binocular Vision Assessment. Deficits within the motor, vestibular or auditory systems put more demand on the visual system (the person must rely heavily on their visual system). This means that even subtle vision problems can have a significant impact on overall function. These vision problems will not be identified during vision screenings at the pediatrician's office or at school, during a routine eye examination, or by an occupational therapist, physical therapist or speech-language therapist. These vision problems should be identified and diagnosed by an optometrist with residency training in neuro-optometry, binocular vision and vision therapy. Otherwise they can be easily misdiagnosed or overlooked and continue to impede progress.
PEOPLE WITH A SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTAL HISTORY
Several vision conditions occur at higher rates for people with developmental conditions. While having autism, cerebral palsy, trisomy 21 or developmental delay does not mean that you have a vision condition, it does carry a higher risk. Given the role vision plays in overall development, it is especially important that all vision conditions be detected and treated. Vision conditions of concern for people with developmental conditions include:
Significant refractive error (high prescription)
Amblyopia (lazy eye)
Strabismus (eye turn)
Accommodative dysfunction (eye focusing)
Binocular vision dysfunction (eye teaming)
Oculomotor dysfunction (eye tracking)
Visual perceptual & processing deficits (extracting visual information)
While glasses are important to establish clear vision, they do not treat all vision conditions. Vision therapy is extremely effective in treating many conditions that impact functional vision. Providing clear, comfortable, consistent vision allows someone to be more successful in their visual environment. Vision therapy can be a critical part of a greater plan to help an individual reach their potential.
CHILDREN OR ADULTS WITH A HISTORY OF VISION PROBLEMS
(EX: AMBLYOPIA, STRABISMUS)
Vision therapy can be used as the sole treatment, or in conjunction with other treatments, to address longstanding vision conditions. There are many vision conditions that have lifelong impacts if left untreated. One does not 'outgrow' conditions of eye tracking, eye teaming, eye focusing or visual processing deficits.
Conditions, such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (eye turn), often benefit from vision therapy as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. For example, not all cases of amblyopia can be treated with glasses and patching alone. Inclusion of vision therapy addresses the underlying binocular vision deficits that result in blurred vision. More recent research has shown that amblyopia can be treated in both children and adults when vision therapy is included as part of the treatment process.
Vision therapy is often utilized in the treatment of strabismus (eye turn). In some cases, vision therapy can be used as the sole treatment for an intermittent strabismus (the eye turns on occasion). In other cases, vision therapy can be used to support a more successful recovery following strabismus surgery (similar to the use of physical therapy after orthopedic surgery).