Vision Therapy which is also called vision training or orthoptics is far more than just simple exercises for the eye.
It is a progressive program specialized and individualized to the visual needs of the patient used to improve or correct certain vision problems many of which relate to reading, raising reading scores, driving and even sports acuity.
Vision therapy is a series of treatments conducted in a doctor’s office one or two times a week in 30-60 minute sessions.
According to a 2008 article by Joel Zaba, M.A., O.D, made possible from the Essilor Foundation, "Experts estimate vision problems are prevalent in 25% of all schoolchildren in the United States and are one of the most prevalent handicapping conditions in childhood."
Thus, carefully planned procedures carried out by the patient under professional supervision in order to improve vision skills such as eye movement control, eye focusing and coordination of the two eyes in movement together result not only in enhanced visual skills, but also better self-esteem, higher literacy rates and better reading scores.
Vision therapy can include, but is not limited to, a computer software program and/or online training. It’s usually performed under a physician‘s supervision and is often supplemented with additional procedures at home in between office visits.
The vision therapy regimen helps to provide the patient’s visual skills and abilities your child needs to enhance and improve his or her potential to perform in school.
Vision therapy can improve visual efficiency, visual search, perceptual accuracy, scanning abilities and in general, comfort for the patient, while at the same time raising reading scores.
Vision therapy is a type of physical therapy for the brain and eyes . It is an an extremely effective treatment for many common visual problems such as double vision, crossed eyes, lazy eye, convergence insufficiency, and perception.
When addressing learning disabilities often the goal is to hone directly in on the suspected visual problem itself and then to focus on resolving the issue that is interfering with learning, understanding directions or reading.
Many discouraged parents of diagnosed children and adult patients who have given up or have been disillusioned have have had extremely positive results when using vision therapy training to raise reading scores.
It needs to be pointed out though, that Optometrists do not subscribe to the idea that vision therapy is the one and only treatment for learning disabilities.
Vision therapy is conducted in office by an optometric vision care professional under the supervision of a developmental optometrist and involves many different types of treatment such as therapeutic lenses, prism lenses, corrective lenses, eye patches, optical filters, balance , timing devices, visual motor sensory training.
Following a thorough examination that includes an evaluation by the qualified vision care professional, the candidate is advised on whether vision therapy would be the best method of treatment.
Vision therapy can then be used to treat spelling, learning, ADHD, coordination problems, reading difficulties and problems with sports.
Even when children who are experiencing abnormal difficulties in sports display easy frustration, not getting along well with others, have a lack of motivation or do not want to be a team player can benefit from vision therapy.
Treating the problem involves training the brain, the eyes, the eyes muscles and the connections that take place between them. These problems can be traced to the neural pathways in between the eyes and the brain and vision programs can help by using repetitive tasks focused on the person’s specific vision problems.
Situations such as theses possibly involve a lack of development of some neural pathways that are used for seeing or it could be a breakdown, which can be used by a lack of use, stressor by insult or to the eye and/or brain trauma of those pathways.
A common vision skill problem is poor eye muscle coordination which his can be corrected with the one of several different vision therapy programs offered. Skills that aren’t learned can be developed and learned with repetitive practice in vision therapy by gearing it towards the patient’s eye needs.
The amount of effectiveness and success in vision therapy regarding vision-related learning disabilities varies by patient.
Vision therapy is not a guaranteed treatment and a large degree of improvement depends greatly on the patient’s motivation to follow the doctor’s orders and do the training involved.
Remember, vision therapy is a learning tool. Think back to a situation, possibly with school or job related, if obtaining something at the end had a large attraction, we were far more motivated to work towards that goal.
Apply that method to vision therapy and the same result is true. It follows along those same lines as it is a learning experience that is repetitive. Vision therapy can be done with minimal motivation, however, far more success rates prevail when done with a positive attitude and desire.
Vision therapy programs varies in length from a few weeks to several months. This mainly depends upon the type of vision problem including how many are compounded, the length of time the vision condition has existed, the determination, attitude and motivation of the patient and the level of improvement desired.
A study, in the November/December 2003 Journal of Learning Disabilities, discovered that as few as 12 one-hour sessions of computer-based vision therapy found improvement in the child's overall general attention in the classroom along with greater quality reading ability.
Eye movement abilities and visual attention add greatly to a child's ability to comprehend what they are reading , according to Harold A. Solan, O.D., M.A., FCOVD, Distinguished Service Professor of Optometry at the State College of Optometry, State University of New York and lead researcher for the study.
Unfortunately children with learning difficulties and those that struggle with reading might very well have undetected visual issues at the core.
If addressed, diagnosed and vision therapy is implemented, through diligence, dedication and motivation, there is a very good chance the child can be a success in the classroom.
When a teacher reports on a student’s difficulties or behavior problems, it is imperative that parents don’t disregard the fact that quite possibly vision problems are at the heart of the matter.
It may have nothing to do with how clearly the child sees the board and everything to do with how effectively or ineffectively the eyes and brain gather and process the information that it sees.
Vision therapy isn’t just exclusive to children.
Adults who desire to acquire, strengthen or sharpen their vision skills whether it be for a second career, a new skill or a hobby.
Many professional athletes today are using sports vision therapy to stay ahead of the game and to be the best in their game. So indeed, this type of therapy can serve many individuals on many different levels. Perhaps though, the biggest perk being that vision therapy is non-invasive and non-surgical.
Heidi Hamilton is an accomplished writer having had her own weekly/monthly food column in several newspapers.
She currently writes for an online publication for her hometown featuring Art, Entertainment, Restaurants, Local Celebrities and Businesses. She owns her own art business which includes multiple mediums, is involved in online learning is a full time mother of four and enjoys sharing her experiences (ok, opinions!) and is a part time optician assistant with a passion for online learning and vision therapy.
Related articles: Vision Therapy is Missing Link for Struggling Readers
I Read I Succeed: Eye Exercises, Eye-Q Reading Inventory and Vision Therapy
Posted by +Pat Wyman, author and founder of HowToLearn.com