What is Vision Therapy?

There’s more to vision than meets the eye.

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Good vision requires your eyesight, visual pathways, and brain to all work together. When they don’t, even a person with 20/20 eyesight can experience difficulty reading, writing and processing information.

Since 1995, people of all ages have turned to The Vision Therapy Center for a solution. And by using vision therapy, we’ve delivered – improving the vision and the lives of over 2,000 patients.

This section will provide you with a complete overview of what we do here at the Vision Therapy Center. Read through this section, and you’ll understand why Vision Therapy, used in the optometry field since 1930, can have such a dramatic impact on the quality of a person’s life.


Definition

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Dr. Kellye Knueppel, founder of The Vision Therapy Center, and her associate Dr. Brandon Begotka are developmental optometrists. They perform a functional vision exam, which assesses the many visual skills necessary for good vision, to determine if a vision problem exists. When a vision problem is diagnosed, they may recommend vision therapy.

Vision therapy helps the patient develop the visual skills necessary for good vision. Optical devices and exercises are used to improve the eye-brain connection in order to make eye movements easier and more efficient. The patient learns how to correctly process the visual information that the brain receives from the eyes.

Vision therapy can range from one session to 2-3 years and involves office visits combined with at-home activities. Most programs last from 6-9 months.


Who needs Vision Therapy?

Patients who require vision therapy generally have the following visual challenges:

  • Learning related visual problems:Conditions such as poor eye teaming, focusing, tracking and visualization skills can all negatively affect learning.

  • Crossed Eye (Strabismus) or Lazy Eye (Amblyopia):Crossed eyes and or lazy eyes can be treated with Vision Therapy instead of conventional surgery, glasses or patching. Vision Therapy is very effective for these conditions at an early age, but can yield results for patients of any age.

  • Stress-induced vision problems: Our high-tech society requires many people to do a large volume of near work in front of a computer screen. Because of this, there is an increasing number of patients that experience eyestrain, headaches and other visual related difficulties.
  • Visual rehabilitation for special populations (strokes, brain injuries, developmental delays, multiple sclerosis, etc.):A neurological disorder or trauma to the nervous system can affect a person’s vision. This includes people who have traumatic brain injuries, strokes, whiplash, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological ailments.

  • Sports vision improvement:Even good vision can become better. Athletes often use Vision Therapy to improve eye-hand coordination, visual reaction time, peripheral awareness, eye teaming, focusing, tracking and visualization skills.


What outcomes can you expect?

When the eyes move, align, fixate and focus together, a whole new world of vision is discovered. With successful treatment, our patients may find that:

  • Learning becomes easier
  • Reading level and speed increases
  • Time spent on homework decreases
  • The ability to follow moving objects (a ball, a car) improves
  • Seeing objects nearby or at a distance improves
  • Visualizing mental images becomes easier

The rate at which patients experience these improvements will vary, but generally progress is seen early in the therapy program.


Glossary

20/20 Vision:The visual acuity in the optically ‘normal’ human eye. The top number indicates that the acuity is tested at a distance of twenty feet from the eye to the chart. The bottom number indicates the size of letter or symbol that the eye can see at that distance. Deviations from the norm are expressed by changing the bottom number to be larger or smaller than 20. Numbers larger than 20 represent larger sizes of letters or symbols whereas numbers smaller than 20 represent smaller sizes of letters or symbols. For example, a person with 20/30 vision sees a size of letter at twenty feet that an optically ‘normal’ eye can see at thirty feet.***

Visual Acuity:The ability of the eye to resolve detail. Normal visual acuity is 20/20.

Amblyopia (Lazy Eye):There are many conditions, such as crossed eye, nearsightedness or farsightedness, that can lead to the development of amblyopia, commonly referred to as lazy eye. Regardless of the condition that causes amblyopia, one or both eyes does not have clear vision, even with glasses or contact lenses.

Children or adults suffering from amblyopia typically don’t develop the concept of opposites, and may have difficulty keeping their balance, especially in sports. Traditionally, patching is used to treat amblyopia. However, studies have shown that combining Vision Therapy with patching is a more effective treatment.

Convergence: The turning in of the two eyes when one looks from far to near.**

Convergence Insufficiency: A disorder in which the individual does not aim the eyes at the same point in space, particularly when viewing a near target.**

Depth perception:The use of visual information from one or both eyes to determine spatial relationships between viewed objects.**

Developmental Optometrist: A developmental optometrist treats functional vision problems, including difficulties with binocular vision, eye movements and depth perception, as well as visual deficits following brain injuries. These optometrists are skilled in the use of lenses, prisms and optometric vision therapy and provide vision care based on the principle that vision can be developed and changed. **

Divergence:The turning out of the two eyes when one looks from near to far.**

Hyperopia (Farsightedness) – A visual condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but near objects do not come into proper focus.

Learning-related Vision Problems – Vision disorders that interfere with reading and learning.*

Myopia (Nearsightedness): A visual condition in which near objects are seen clearly, but distant objects are blurred.*

Ophthalmologist – M.D. :An ophthalmologist is a medical or osteopathic doctor who receives residency training and specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease. In general, ophthalmologists use medical and surgical methods to treat eye diseases and vision disorders.

Optician:A licensed technician who makes and dispenses eyeglasses according to prescriptions from optometrists and ophthalmologists. ***

Optometrist – O.D. : Doctors of optometry (O.D.s) are the primary health care professionals for the eye. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.

An optometrist completes a pre-professional undergraduate education at a college or university and then completes four years of professional education at a college of optometry. Upon graduating, an optometrist can complete an optional one year residency for additional training in a specific area of practice.

Snellen chart: A chart imprinted with rows of black letters, with the letters graduating in size from smallest on the bottom row to the largest on the top row. It was developed by Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen (1834-1908), and is used for testing visual acuity.***

Stereopsis (‘3D vision’): The sensation of three dimensional depth created by the brain combining the two slightly different images obtained from each of the two eyes.***

Strabismus (Crossed Eye):Commonly referred to as cross-eye or wall-eye, this condition occurs when the two eyes don’t work together. One of the two eyes will turn in a different direction than the other (either in or out), which is the result of poor eye muscle control.

It is normal for a baby to occasionally experience strabismus during the first 3 ½ months of life. If the condition persists, care may be required. The condition can also develop as children reach school age.

Ophthalmologists may recommend surgery to correct this condition. Surgical correction of strabismus involves cutting the muscles that control the eye in order to make the eye appear straight. However, this does not solve the underlying problem: The eyes have not developed the ability to work together. Vision therapy offers a functional cure by training the eyes to work as a team.


Sources:

*American Optometric Association
** Fixing my Gaze,by Dr. Susan Barry
*** Smart Medicine for Your Eyes,by Dr. Jeffrey Anshel

 




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