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VISION THERAPY MYTHS DEBUNKED: Myth #2 - All Vision Therapy Programs Are The Same

This is a myth on multiple levels, and here is why:

  1. Not all vision therapy practices perform vision therapy in the same way

  2. When done correctly, each patient's vision therapy program should be individualized to that person and their specific binocular vision condition.

Like many therapies, the practice of vision therapy is open to the interpretations of the individual prescribing and administering the treatment. While the majority of optometrists graduate with a basic understanding of vision therapy, only a select few are accepted into post-graduate vision therapy residencies. In fact in Idaho Dr. Ryan Johnson is the only optometrist who is residency-trained in binocular vision, neuro-optometry, and vision therapy. Dr. Johnson's experience allows him to successfully manage a wide range of patients with binocular vision dysfunction. From acquired brain injury patients, to individuals with visually-related learning difficulties, to athletes interested in enhancing sports performance, Dr. Johnson has both the knowledge and experience to create successful vision therapy programs.

 

Just as the doctor should have specific, formal training in vision therapy, you or your child should have individualized, formal vision therapy sessions. Some doctors attempt to make a “cookie cutter” version of vision therapy. This cookie cutter model may be accomplished by using a set therapy routine that is used for all patients, group sessions that do not allow individuals to progress at their own rate, or computer-based programs done at home or in office. This mass production approach to vision therapy typically results in lengthy treatment times, poor results, and even embedding of poor visual habits. Most experts agree that individualized, in-office vision therapy is the best treatment option for binocular vision dysfunction, such as convergence insufficiency. In fact, research has shown that in-office vision therapy is more effective than home exercises or computer-based therapy in the treatment of convergence insufficiency. It may surprise you to know that the home-based therapy and computer programs actually had a success rate LOWER than that of the placebo therapy (ineffective treatment used as a control during clinical trials) administered as part of the research.

 

So how do you choose the right vision therapy program for you? Ask the following questions:

  • Where did the optometrist complete their vision therapy residency?

A residency is formal, advanced training completed after graduation from optometry school. Every residency program is accredited through a school of optometry and must meet strict guidelines. Residency-training is a great way to ensure that the optometrist has both the knowledge and advanced training to care for you or your child.

  • What are the qualifications of the vision therapist working with you or your child?

    It is important to know that EVERY vision therapy sessions is performed with a qualified therapist in a one-on-one setting. Ask if the therapist is state-licensed. You may even ask for the state license number of the therapist working with you or your child.

  • Is the vision therapy individualized, or does it involve group sessions or computer-based sessions?

    Every session conducted in a group setting or with the use of computer programs is a session that risks embedding poor visual habits or lengthening treatment time. Vision therapy is a treatment that requires the patient to be closely monitored by trained professionals. Poorly monitored vision therapy can result in embedding of poor visual habits or the development of new visual symptoms (such as double vision).

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If someone has suggested vision therapy for you or your child seek out an optometrist who is residency trained in binocular vision and vision therapy. If someone suggests computer-based, home, or group therapy it is wise to seek a second opinion from a doctor with advanced, formal training in vision therapy.

Posted by Ryan Johnson at 5/22/2014 7:04:00 PM
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