What Is a Vision Therapy Program?

Vision therapy, sometimes called vision training, is a supervised and individualized treatment program designed to correct, improve and/or enhance visual efficiency problems, visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies.

The program is similar to physical therapy and occupational therapy. Both of these therapies, like most therapies, are based on the idea of neuroplasticity, or the brain's ability to make changes and then begin to use the new neural pathways. Therapy activities and exercises are customized to meet the needs of each individual.

These exercises are supervised by developmental optometrists and trained vision therapists. When performed in an office setting, the activities include therapeutic lenses, prism lenses, optical filters, and eye patches in addition to specific exercises involving eye teaming, focusing, eye movements, balance and visual processing information. Programs generally take anywhere from six months to a year depending on the diagnosis with lifelong results.

The exercises engage the entire visual system which includes eyes, brain and body. An efficient visual system is comprised of accurate binocularity (eye teaming), efficient eye tracking, focusing, visual perception, eye-hand coordination and visual motor integration.

The visual system is a key factor in how we process information and plays a crucial role in how we learn. Understanding and making sense of what we see so that we have accurate output is what visual processing is all about. In vision therapy, we acquire skills to improve visual function; over eighty percent of the information that is acquired in a classroom setting comes through visual pathways, so having a strong and efficient visual system is essential to learning.

This program is also an effective non-surgical treatment for strabismus (misalignment of eyes) and many other visual problems including convergence insufficiency (an eye teaming problem that can cause learning problems), amblyopia (sometimes called lazy eye), and double vision. A recent study conducted by the National Eye Institute concluded that the most successful vision therapy model for individuals with a diagnosis of convergence insufficiency is that in which weekly office visits combined with exercises done at home between visits is most beneficial.

Many symptoms associated with reading problems, such as skipping lines, eye-strain and discomfort, losing your place while reading, poor reading comprehension, unusual head tilt or posture when reading or writing, or headaches after intense reading can be reduced or alleviated by doing specific vision training activities. Vision therapy is not about making eye muscles stronger or seeing more clearly. The muscles surrounding our eyes and controlling the lens of our eyes are already strong! These exercises help the patient learn to use their visual system in new or more effective ways.

The goal of this therapy is to alleviate the symptoms of vision issues and enhance visual performance and comfort. Commitment and consistency to a vision training program is crucial to an individual's overall success. Countless patients have expressed improved quality of life as a result of this program.

Dr. Lori Mowbray is the director of the Minnesota Vision Therapy Center ( http://www.minnesotavisiontherapy.com/ ), one of the most successful vision therapy centers operating today. To learn about her new home programs Primitive Reflex Training, Visual Development, and Vision Therapy at Home, go to. http://homevisiontherapyprogram.com/.


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