About Vision Therapy
Is your visual system helping or interfering with your ability to achieve your full potential? Many vision and visual processing problems need to be corrected with more than just lenses. This can be done using a specialty technique called Vision Therapy. Patients who have been told, "it's too late to correct your vision," or "you'll have to learn to live with seeing that way" have benefited from Vision Therapy.
Vision Therapy uses individualized techniques and exercises that aim to re-organize the way the brain processes visual information. It is a non-surgical treatment that can help anyone from those deficient in visual skills, like many children with learning, development or physical challenges, to those who want to enhance aspects of their vision like professional athletes (e.g. golfers, hockey players and baseball players).
Vision therapy improves overall visual functions, visual perception, visual integration with other senses, and motor activities. All of these will result in improved performance in academics and athletics. This can, in turn, be life changing.
About Vision Therapy Treatments
Vision Therapy treatments are prescribed to help patients develop or improve fundamental visiual skills, improvevisual comfort and ease, or to change how a patient interprets visual information. Vision Therapy is a series of activities prescribed and monitored by the doctor after a full eye exam has been performed, if the doctor believes it would be an effective treatment option. The patient's exact Vision Therapy prescription will be based on standardized test results, patient needs, and symptoms. Lenses, prisms, filters, occluders, specialized instruments, and computer programs can all be part of a Vision Therapy program. Vision Therapy occurs at the office under the doctor's supervision. Techniques and activities are often taught to the patient so that they can be practiced at home. The number of office visits needed will depend on the severity of the condition. Office visits are typically once or twice per week, and last approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Vision Therapy programs typically last between several weeks to several months. Effective therapy develops visual skills until they are integrated with other systems and become automatic. The goals of Vision Therapy treatments are to achieve desired visual outcomes, alleviate the signs and symptoms, meet the patient's needs, and improve the patient's quality of life.
Equipment we use in Vision Therapy
- Corrective lenses (regulated medical devices)
- Therapeutic lenses (regulated medical devices)
- Prism lenses (regulated medical devices)
- Optical filters
- Occluders or eye patches
- Electronic targets with timing mechanisms
- Computer software
- Balance boards (vestibular device)
What Is Vision Training?
Vision therapy is also known as vision training, visual training, behavioral optometry, or developmental optometry. It is a rehabilitative therapy for the visual system. This system involves both the brain and the eyes, as eyes are the physical extensions of the brain. Some vision problems involve how the brain processes visual information, and these are the types of problems that vision training can correct.
Visual skills are developed over time, like any other skill in life. These skills can be improved by training, if they didn't develop properly on their own. Prescribed visual training exercises coordinate and strengthen eye movement, improve focusing ability, and straighten eye alignment.
Vision Therapy In Practice
Dr. Sangha, or a qualified vision training Optometrist near you, will first complete a comprehensive eye exam to determine what weaknesses the patient possesses and whether they'd be a good candidate for vision therapy. If the patient is a candidate, the doctor will outline an individualized training program.
Vision training can make use of many different devices containing lenses and prisms, which challenge eyes to produce coherent images. Eyeglasses with colored lenses and polarized materials are also used. Some practices, including here at the Family Eyecare Centre, also feature a new training program that uses computerized therapy on a large touch screen television. The software incorporates activities for eye-hand coordination, visual search patterns, tracking and jumping eye movements, site-word recognition, binocular work and much more. This computerized program is very successful because it is interactive, gives immediate feedback and allows for tracking improvement over time.
When a patient first starts training, strain on the eyes during these exercises is common and eyes may occasionally tear up. As training continues, this will happen less. The patient will eventually become aware of the feeling experienced when eye muscles are being challenged, when images are successfully being seen, and when neurology is being changed.
Exercises will begin at an easy level and will gradually become more difficult. This works to improve the flexibility and coordination of the eye muscles. Examples of methods may include the eyes having to rapidly focus at near and far objects, or the eyes following objects moving around a monitor which appear to be at different distances. These methods allow you to learn exactly which muscles are weak and need training.
Practicing vision training techniques at home is typically an important part of the training program, in addition to office visits. Dr. Sangha may give the patient lenses, prisms, and cards to use at home depending on what the visual weakness is.
The length of a vision therapy program varies depending on the type of vision problem, how long the condition has existed, the age of the patient, the motivation of the patient, and the level of improvement that is desired. Training programs will typically last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and occasionally up to a year.