What can vision therapy accomplish?
Vision therapy was developed before the Great Depression. Also known as orthoptic training, this therapy is designed to improve vision skills such as eye movement control and eye coordination. These are also called visual motor skills. In addition, therapy is used to treat lazy eye or amblyopia.
There are a number of specific diagnoses that can be effectively treated with vision therapy. These include convergence insufficiency, amblyopia, binocular dysfunction, accommodative spasm, strabismus and poor eye teaming to name a few.
First is a comprehensive eye examination and diagnosis of one or more of the above conditions. Then a behavioral optometrist designs an effective vision therapy program for the patient.
How often is vision therapy done?
Vision therapy is often done through in-office visits, once or more times each week. A vision therapist guides the patient to perform a series of visual tasks. Each of these tasks last 2 – 5 minutes. A complete session may last 30 minutes or more.
Every student’s severity is different, as are their goals. That is why some programs last 12 weeks and others may run an entire year.
Some prescribed tasks build eye alignment skills. First a patient aligns both eyes on a distance target, then changes his eye alignment for a near target. Other tasks strengthen focusing skills so that he can see more clearly when focusing at various distances especially when reading. We use various lenses, prisms and different colored lenses to control what image each eye is able to see.
For example, to treat convergence insufficiency, we use over 50 different techniques to strengthen the ability to converge and align your eyes for near tasks, such as reading.
To treat lazy eye or amblyopia we employ a different set of tasks to strengthen the nerve endings in the retina. Here we have two goals. First, we improve the visual acuity of the “weak” eye by stimulating it. We do this with tasks that require the lazy eye to perform more of the visual work. We can also patch the “good” eye forcing the weak eye to work more. For our second goal, we train the two eyes to work as a team. We strive to create binocular vision. Then, once the lazy eye’s vision is improved, the two eyes will always work as a team.
This type of therapy can also improve visual perception. Visual perception is responsible for the way in which we interpret what we see. Good visual perception allows us to recognize the difference between the letter “b” and “d” as well as words like “saw” and “was”.
So back to your question: Can vision therapy help my child?
If your student has one of the above conditions, the answer is likely; Yes, vision therapy can help your child. Like any personal development program the key is to get on a good program and to stick with it. Consistency is the key to successful vision therapy.
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