Below you can find information regarding Vision Therapy (VT) and frequently asked questions regarding VT services that are offered right here at Apple Valley Vision.
- Vision is more than just ’20/20′
- What is Vision Therapy?
- Who Needs Vision Therapy?
- How does Vision Therapy work?
- How long does a program of Vision Therapy last?
- What is the purpose of these vision exercises?
- Do these exercises simply strengthen eye muscles?
- What is the first step in a vision therapy program?
- Is there scientific evidence that it really works?
Vision is More than just ’20/20′
Most people don’t realize that you need 17 visual skills to succeed in reading, learning, sports, and in life. Seeing ‘20/20’ is just one of those visual skills. Here is the complete list:
- Eye Movement Control
- Simultaneous Focus at Far
- Sustaining Focus at Far
- Simultaneous Focus at Near
- Sustaining Focus at Near
- Simultaneous Alignment at Far
- Sustaining Alignment at Far
- Simultaneous Alignment at Near
- Sustaining Alignment at Near
- Central Vision (Visual Acuity, or “20/20” Vision)
- Peripheral Vision
- Depth Perception
- Color Perception
- Gross Visual-Motor
- Fine Visual-Motor
- Visual Perception
- Visual Integration
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision therapy is a series of eye exercises and activities designed to improve the functioning and efficiency of the visual system. It is a sequence of neurosensory and neuromuscular activities individually prescribed and monitored by the doctor to develop, rehabilitate and enhance visual skills and processing. Vision Therapy is NOT to be confused with any self-directed self-help program of eye exercises which is or has been marketed to the public.
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Who needs Vision Therapy?
The vision therapy program is based on the results of a comprehensive eye examination or consultation, and takes into consideration the results of standardized tests, the needs of the patient, and the patient’s signs and symptoms. (Take a visual symptom survey to find out if you or your child is in need of a complete developmental visual evaluation). Research has demonstrated vision therapy can be an effective treatment option for individuals who suffer from:
- Ocular motility dysfunctions (eye movement disorders)
- Non‐strabismic binocular disorders (inefficient eye teaming)
- Strabismus (misalignment of the eyes)
- Amblyopia (poorly developed vision)
- Accommodative disorders (focusing problems, computer vision syndrome)
- Visual information processing disorders, including visual-motor integration and integration with other senses
- Visual problems related to acquired brain injuries (Strokes, concussions, etc.)
For a list of conditions that might affect your child, or have been discussed by your doctor, please click here.
In the case of learning disabilities, vision therapy is specifically directed toward resolving the visual problems which interfere with reading, learning and educational instruction. Vision therapy is not a direct treatment for learning disabilities, nor does it take the place reading, learning, tutoring, and other educational instruction; rather to complement and enhance those areas.
It can be a useful tool for helping children and adults alike. Children with learning or reading problems can benefit from the vision boost these exercises provide. Eyeglasses are not the solution when the problem is visual processing. These problems can’t be detected without tests done by an eye doctor. Adults can see vision improvement through this therapy as well. It can help relieve eye-strain related vision problems brought on by working with computers all day.
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How does Vision Therapy work?
We start with exercises that are simple and fairly easy, and then gradually progress to more challenging and complicated tasks. Each vision therapy program is individually tailored to meet the needs of the patient. Visual tasks are integrated with movement, balance, hearing, speech, rhythm and timing, and visualization in order to develop improved visual functioning. As skills are developed and perfected, new skills are added.
Vision therapy can be used to treat such conditions as convergence insufficiency, strabismus (eye turn in or out), amblyopia (lazy eye), and oculomotor dysfunction (tracking problem). Also, many children diagnosed with ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, and dyslexia have functional vision problems that interfere with learning, and can benefit from proper treatment.
In-office Vision Therapy is supervised by optometric vision care professionals and many types of specialized and/or medical equipment can be used in Optometric Vision Therapy programs, such as:
- 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)
- visual-motor-sensory integration training devices
How long does a program of vision therapy last?
The length of the therapy program varies depending on the severity of the diagnosed conditions, typically ranging from several weeks to even several months or longer periods of time. The therapy is broken up into weekly in-office sessions with one-on-one attention with a vision therapist or optometrist. Sessions usually last approximately 1 hour and are supplemented with procedures done at home between office visits.
What is the purpose of the vision exercises?
Vision exercises are designed to help patients improve basic visual skills that connect the eyes with the brain. These exercises can improve visual efficiency by changing how a patient interprets images. This helps them see and understand images correctly.
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Do these exercises simply strengthen eye muscles?
Nothing about vision therapy is centered on strengthening eye muscles. These muscles can be strengthened through orthoptics if they need strengthening. This therapy is all about improving vision problems that may interfere with learning by strengthening the neurological pathways between the eyes and the brain.
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What is the first step in a vision therapy program?
The first step in any Vision Therapy program is a comprehensive vision examination. Following a thorough evaluation, a qualified vision care professional can advise the candidate as to whether Vision Therapy would be appropriate treatment.
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Is there scientific evidence that it really works?
It does work. Studies on vision therapy show it is effective in improving the lives of patients. Data shows that this therapy can improve visual function enough to keep it from interfering with a patient’s ability to absorb information and learn. In its own sphere, this therapy is as effective as physical therapy or occupational therapy.
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For more information please visit the following websites:
- College of Optometrists in Vision Development
- American Optometric Association
- Optometric Extension Program Foundation
- The VisionHelp Blog
- The Amblyopia Project – resources for patients/parents and practitioners on amblyopia (lazy eye) treatment.
- Facebook Group – Vision Therapy Parents Unite