Just like exercising our bodies to make our arms, legs, or abdominal muscles stronger, there are eye exercises or vision therapy that can make our eye muscles stronger too. Sometimes the muscles in our eyes may not function properly due to genetic predisposition (such as having crossed eyes), “lazy eye”, injury, or acquired eye muscle problems (i.e. due to diabetes).
There are different types of exercises to treat the various eye muscle problems. Prognosis is effective for many of the eye muscle problems. Some eye problems that are more complex can be more challenging and can take longer to treat.
Treatment is aimed at giving patients better visual function in activities of daily living. Not all therapies can “cure” the problem. However, functioning better in life without headaches, double vision, less eyestrain and improved depth perception is something to talk about!
A low vision consultation can be performed to patients who are visually impaired and generally legally blind in one or both eyes. A person is considered legally blind if one eye has 20/200 visual acuity or worse even with corrective lenses. A person can be born with reduced vision or a person can acquire low vision via injury or an eye disease (i.e. macular degeneration). Many times there is no traditional lens treatment or surgical treatment that can help these patients.
However, a low vision consultation can completely change a person’s lifestyle by finding solutions that can improve a person’s ability to function better in their activities of daily living. By no means does the treatment cure the problem, but it does help a person utilize their existing vision better which in turn will improve the safety and function in their environment.
The low vision evaluation may take more than one visit. There may be many optical devices such as telescopes, magnifiers, hand held magnifiers, closed circuit television (CCTV), large numbered telephone touch pads, etc. that can be prescribed to a patient to help improve their quality of life. Generally, once the devices are selected and ordered, low vision training is medically necessary to aid the patient in understanding how to incorporate the new low vision devices to their activities of daily living. It does take time to do daily tasks in a new way, but time and patience will make the transition happen.
So even though the doctors tell these low vision patients there is no medical treatment, which gives the patient of sense of worthlessness and hopelessness. Just know that there is a solution that can help one function better in life.
If you know of someone that can benefit from this evaluation, please have them call our office so that we can help serve them improve their safety, function, and quality of life.
Is Vision Therapy an effective treatment?
Vision therapy -- a type of physical therapy for the eyes and brain -- is a highly effective non-surgical treatment for many common visual problems such as lazy eye, crossed eyes, double vision, convergence insufficiency and some reading and learning disabilities. Many patients who have been told, "it's too late," or "you'll have to learn to live with it" have benefited from vision therapy.
In the case of learning disabilities, vision therapy is specifically directed toward resolving visual problems which interfere with reading, learning and educational instruction. Optometrists do not claim that vision therapy is a direct treatment for learning disabilities.
Vision and Autism/ADHD
Visual problems are very common in individuals with autism and Vision Therapy activities can be used to stimulate general visual arousal, eye movements, and the central visual system. To learn more visit covd.org.
Visual Rehabilitation for Special Populations
Vision can be compromised as a result of neurological disorders or trauma to the nervous system (such as, traumatic brain injuries, stroke, whiplash, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, etc.). Vision Therapy can effectively treat the visual consequences of trauma (including double vision).
To learn more about brain injuries and vision, visit braininjuries.org.
What is involved in a Vision Therapy program?
Vision therapy is --
- a progressive program of vision "exercises" or procedures;
- performed under doctor supervision;
- individualized to fit the visual needs of each patient;
- generally conducted in-office, in once or twice weekly sessions of 30 minutes to one hour;
- sometimes supplemented with procedures done at home between office visits ("homework");
- (depending on the case) prescribed to --
- help patients develop or improve fundamental visual skills and abilities;
- improve visual comfort, ease, and efficiency;
- change how a patient processes or interprets visual information.
Is Vision Therapy not just an eye exercise?
Unlike other forms of exercise, the goal of Vision Therapy is NOT to strengthen eye muscles. Your eye muscles are already incredibly strong! Vision Therapy is not to be confused with any self-directed program of eye exercises which is or has been marketed to the public. Vision Therapy is supervised by optometric vision care professionals and many types of specialized and/or medical equipment are used in Vision Therapy programs, such as:
- prescription lenses (regulated medical devices);
- therapeutic lenses (regulated medical devices);
- prisms (regulated medical devices);
- optical filters;
- eye patches or occluders
- electronic targets with timing mechanisms;
- computer software;
- vestibular (balance) equipment
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.