Vision therapy is a treatment regimen that improves or corrects specific vision system abnormalities detected by standardized diagnostic criteria. It involves the non-surgical treatment of binocular vision or convergence dysfunctions such as strabismus, amblyopia, accommodation, visual-perceptual-motor disabilities and visual-motor impairment. It aims to develop or enhance visual abilities and skills by changing visual interpretation or processing of visual information, and improving visual ease, comfort and efficiency. Therefore, VT seeks to help patients achieve and maintain optimal vision throughout life.
Vision plays a critical role in an individual's life, including the ability to learn in school, forge relationships, enjoy sports/recreation and achieve on the job. VT helps individuals with visual impairment develop visual skills and efficiency to enable them to attain maximal visual performance levels. The treatment is designed to teach the patient how the brain controls the eyes. It helps them develop their visual skills and apply them to improve concentration, reading, learning and attention.
VT is a personalized and fully customized treatment program aimed at improving and strengthening visual skills. It retrains the patient's visual system to process and interpret visual input with ease and better accuracy. Thus, it's designed to revamp the patient's visual system and skills, including eye-tracking, convergence, focusing, eye and hand coordination, visual processing speed, TC.
Also Known As
- Visual Training
- Vision Training
- Visual Therapy
- Behavioral Optometry
- Vision Therapy Training
- Optometric Vision Therapy
- Developmental Optometry
- Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation
There are three main VT categories:
- Orthoptic eye exercises
- Behavioral/perceptual visual therapy
- VT for prevention or correction of nearsightedness
Who Can Benefit from Visual Therapy?
VT is useful for patients of all ages and can address some congenital and many acquired/developmental visual dysfunctions. Its objectives and outcomes vary depending on the patient's diagnosis and circumstances. The eye doctor determines the need for the treatment through comprehensive diagnosis and analysis of the vision system functioning.
Often, VT is used in children with visual dysfunction, including reading and learning difficulties. Vision disorders can interfere with a child's ability to read with ease and efficiency or affect ability to perform in class. VT can treat the causal or contributory vision anomalies like refractive errors, eye muscle imbalances, focusing deficiencies, and motor fusion deficiencies, to enable the patient to take better advantage of educational opportunities.
The following problems can alert parents and teachers to the possibility of a vision disorder:
- Spelling difficulties
- Messy handwriting
- Poor depth judgment
- A reading below grade level
- Homework dislike or avoidance
- Difficulty maintaining attention
- Reduced reading comprehension
- Reversing letters like b, d, p and q
- Confusing words with similar spellings
- Writing numbers backwards, e.g., 2/5 or 6/9
- Loss of place, repetition, and omitting words while reading
- Difficulty shifting focus from near to distance and back again
How Does VT Work?
Treatment plans are designed to address specific diagnosed vision system disorders. The procedures encompass personalized exercises aimed at improving visual skills and efficiently processing the visual system information. They use appropriate materials, modalities and equipment, such as lenses, filters, prisms, occlusion, etc. Nowadays, computer-based therapies and advanced technologies have turned convectional VT exercises into engaging, interactive and fun activities. The duration of treatment depends on the patient's specific needs and the nature and severity of the condition.
Typically, VT includes specific programs to treat:
- Lazy eye
- Eye fatigue
- Double vision
- Focusing difficulties
- Crossed eyes (Strabismus)
- Convergence insufficiency
- Weak hand and eye coordination
- Eye teaming and tracking disorders
- Depth perception and 3D vision challenges
- Visual perception and processing difficulties
VT can also relieve physical symptoms such as:
- Favoring one eye
- Dizziness or motion sickness
- Head tilting/constant squinting
- Difficulty following a moving target
- Using finger-pointing when reading
- Poor posture when writing or reading
- Tiredness or headaches after reading
- Turning of an eye up and down, or in and out
Interdisciplinary involvement and communication are essential in assisting the patient to overcome the challenge. Thus, the management of the patient, whether an adult or dyslexic or learning-disabled child, is multidisciplinary.
VT is a well-researched and clinically proven therapy option with a long history. It has been useful in improving the lives of patients for generations. Depending on the patient's condition and their specific therapy regimen, it may take between a few weeks and six months to see optimum results. During the treatment, the doctor will regularly assess the patient's progress to determine the time needed to achieve the most favorable results.
The American Optometric Association endorses VT as an effective treatment of the vision system's physiological, neuromuscular and perceptual dysfunctions.