When you have a functional vision problem, you want to correct it as fast as possible. The solution? It requires a Functional Vision Test and vision therapy under the care of a developmental optometrist. Even though the testing can be involved and the therapy lengthy, ultimately it’s the fastest way to a fully-functioning vision system.First, let’s define functional vision. Functional vision includes visual skills such as eye teaming, tracking, depth perception, and focusing. Tracking, for example, can affect how a child tracks a line of text in a book. Eye teaming involves how the eyes work together to see an object, and affects your depth perception.
Surprisingly, you can have 20/20 eyesight but still have a functional vision problem. 20/20 eyesight is actually a measure of a person’s visual acuity. Visual acuity is a measure of the clarity of a person’s vision, and is tested by having a patient read a line of letters on an eye chart, like the ones used in vision screening.
A Functional Vision Test can help prevent unnecessary treatments, or even potentially damaging ones. For example, some computer software programs may be enticing as a less costly, fast solution. However, the brain’s habits die hard. A computer program alone may not be able to bring on a fundamental change in how a person uses his or her vision. In-office therapy is also required to help make that change.
This can be the problem when using a software program on your own versus an in-office, doctor-monitored vision therapy treatment plan. “People do the exercises that are easy for their eyes to perform, but ignore the ones they can’t do,” said Dr. Kellye Knueppel.
The exercises that are difficult are often the ones that must be performed to improve functional vision. It’s like stretching or lifting weights; it’s difficult but it’s the only way to improve. Instead, patients go the easy route and reinforce, or in this case, worsen, their bad habits.
Vision therapy could potentially work in conjunction with a computer program, but only if its under the supervision of your developmental optometrist. “While some visual conditions can’t be helped by these programs, others can provide a degree of effective treatment,” Dr. Knueppel said. “It’s just that you need the right program for the right condition.”
Avoiding the Test is a Time Waster
Sometimes therapy isn’t even required, and a Functional Vision Test will reveal conditions that can easily be corrected. Dr. Knueppel was once visited by a patient was suffering from vision problems. The testing revealed no physical issues, but we discovered her vision difficulties were tied to her horrible ergonomic problems.
“She was not using the Harmon distance,” Dr. Knueppel said. “She experienced huge relief simply by improving her habits.”
In this case, the extensive testing allowed us to pinpoint the issue and no therapy was required. Testing allows us to narrow the range of possibilities and find the most efficient treatment. This applies to any patient, no matter what the severity of the condition.
We’ve also seen cases where testing determined that functional lenses was all that was required. Once again, therapy was not necessary.
As you can guess, we could fill several hundred blog posts with stories of how the right amount of testing and therapy led to the fastest resolution possible. It underscores a point we often make to our patients: There is no “Fast Forward” button when it comes to correcting your vision. It takes time, effort and perseverance. But it’s also the fastest way to get your vision back on track.