What is Vision Therapy?
Optometric vision therapy is an individualized treatment program designed to improve visual function and performance. It is an approved treatment modality for disorders including, but not limited to:
- Ocular motility dysfunction/eye movement disorders
- Vergence dysfunction/inefficiency in using both eyes together
- Strabismus/misalignment of the eyes
- Amblyopia/lazy eye
- Accommodative disorders/focusing problems
- Visual information processing disorders
- Visual sensory and motor integration
- Visual rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury or stroke
Most people know who visit an optometrist know that any eye health problem will be detected and that glasses or contacts will be prescribed if indicated. That picture is incomplete because there are several vision conditions that are best managed by optometric vision therapy. This therapy enables an individual to learn more efficient ways to perform visually. It is an art and science of vision care that compliments the prescription of eye glasses, contact lenses and the treatment of eye diseases.
Optometric vision therapy, also referred to as visual training or orthoptics, is an established, medically necessary therapy when prescribed by an optometrist. Optometric vision therapy can improve visual function much like physical therapy can improve general motor function. Clinical tests with associated normative values are administered by an optometrist to determine the presence of visual deficiencies. If optometric vision therapy is indicated, the optometrist recommends a specific treatment plan.
Optometric vision therapy typically involves a programmed combination of office treatment and home therapy. Lenses, prisms, optical devices, and specifically adapted computers are some of the devices through which one learns to use vision more effectively. The specific materials are less important than the feedback provided to the patient to enable change. Visual skills need to be developed until they become automatic and are subconsciously integrated with other skills. The extent of success is also linked to patient compliance.
The benefits of optometric vision therapy (which include improved visual information processing and the ability to sustain visual function over time) are as applicable to the child in the classroom as they are to the adult using a computer or reading a book. Without efficient visual skills the act of reading can be frustrating. Some of the common symptoms relieved through vision therapy include eye strain, visually induced headaches, inability to concentrate when doing visual tasks, and errors such as loss of place or reversals. More often, individuals have no recognized symptoms due to their avoidance of visually demanding tasks or an adaptation that decreases their performance. Optometric vision therapy also facilitates appropriate visual development, and serves as a component of the multi-disciplinary effort following stroke or head injury.
Members of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) have post-graduate education in the diagnosis and management of conditions for which optometric vision therapy is an appropriate treatment. Fellows of the College are certified in providing this vision care. For further information, contact your local COVD optometrist.
Staci Perea McMullen, O.D.
595 Chapel Hills Drive, Suite 103, Colorado Springs, CO 80920
1860 Woodmoor Drive, Monument, CO 80132
Author: Dr. Staci McMullen
Other vision articles by Dr. Staci McMullen
Vision and Learning
Mountain View Vision
6071 East Woodmen Road, Colorado Springs CO