What is Vision Therapy?
Not all vision problems are correctable through traditional methods (contact lenses, glasses, prisms) or surgery. When that’s the case, Vision Therapy is the way to go! So what exactly is it?
Vision therapy is a form of Neuromuscular rehabilitation that incorporates specialized and individualized eye exercises and equipment to teach the patient how to correctly use their eyes and understand what they see.
The American Optometric Association estimates that 60% of learning disabilities are associated with vision problems. What does this mean? Even though a child sees 20/20, their eyes are not working together efficiently. When this happens the brain receives jumbled information which causes the patient to work harder to compensate for the visual deficiencies. As a result, even very bright children can have difficulty learning in school.
Our Vision Therapy program is designed to provide early diagnosis and treatment of vision-related problems so your child can enjoy learning and succeed in school..
Some clues to look for are:
- Headaches while reading or doing prolonged near work
- Eyes tire quickly when reading, doing homework, coloring, etc.
- Turning their head left to right and/or needing to use a finger when reading across a page
- Skips lines/words/letters when reading or reverses words/letters (b for d, p for q, or was for saw)
- Spends a long time on short assignments
- Closing or covering one eye (leaning on a hand) for near work
- Difficulty copying from far to near or near to far
- Complaints of double vision or letter/word/line jumble
- Rubbing eyes and excessive blinking when reading or holding the book close to their face
- Reduced attention span/avoiding activities when working at near
- Must re-read material several times to understand what has been read
- Being a year or more behind in reading skills
- Poor handwriting, writing numbers or letters backwards, poor spacing when writing
- Holding the page at an extreme angle, writing uphill or downhill
If your child has two or more of these symptoms, there is likely a visual problem occurring, and they may need a functional vision evaluation in combination with a comprehensive eye exam. Functional vision examinations are more in-depth than most regular eye exams. The examination tests how the eyes work together in addition to testing visual acuity and checking the eye health.
If problems are detected, our optometrists provide the necessary treatment, which may involve the use of lenses, prisms, and special instrumentation to improve eye coordination, focusing, and tracking skills. We work closely with your child to eliminate visual stress and make learning, reading, and close-up work less tiring.
Some conditions that vision therapy can correct include:
- Lazy Eye (Ambylopia) – The loss or lack of development of central vision in one eye unrelated to any eye health problem. This is not correctable with lenses. (aapos.org)
- Crossed Eyes (Strabismus) – The condition in which both eyes do not look at the same place at the same time. This occurs when one or both eye(s) turn in, out, up, or down. This is usually caused by weakened extraocular muscle control or extreme farsightedness.
- Convergence Insufficiency – The inability to maintain binocular function while working at a near distance. The patient struggels to keep the two eyes working together.
- Accommodative Insufficiency – The condition in which a patient has an inability to focus or sustain focus while working at near.
- Oculomotor Dysfunction – The condition in which the muscles around the eye are not properly coordinated.
How Does Vision Therapy Work?
Like many things in life, visual skills are developed and honed over time. Because of this, they can be improved through therapeutic exercises. In vision therapy, the patient undergoes individualized visual training under the supervision of one of our vision therapists. These exercises are repeated at each session and built upon to enhance eye coordination/movement, control of focus and eye-hand coordination.
Each patient and their diagnosis is unique which is why each session and program is developed specifically for each patient. Vision therapy uses exercises in combination with specialized equipment and home-based therapy. These exercises correct the patient’s tracking, focusing, and eye teaming issues. Patients attend two 40 minute in-office sessions per week. Length of the program varies depending on diagnosis and compliance with home therapy exercises.
Home therapy compliance is essential to success of vision therapy. The patient will work on these exercises between therapy sessions at home 3-5 times per week. The exercises should take approximately 30-40 minutes to complete. The materials are rarely, if ever, covered by
How Do We Get Started?
Primary Assessment of Your Child’s Vision
Step 1: Before any vision therapy is recommended; a comprehensive examination needs to be completed. This allows for our optometrist to determine how to best improve the patient’s eyesight. This may be through the use of corrective lenses, prisms, vision therapy, or a
combination. This is a vital step in ensuring a healthy visual system! Our comprehensive eye examinations take approximately 1 hour and will include a dilation.
Binocular Vision Evaluation
Step 2: If the patient has had a recent eye exam elsewhere, our optometrists will need to complete a binocular vision evaluation. This allows our team to evaluate the how the patient’s eyes team, focus, and coordinate. The evaluation should take 15-30 minutes and may or may not include a dilation. (Please be sure to have your records sent to us for review before the evaluation!)
Step 3: Our Vision Therapy Coordinator will test the patient to determine how their diagnosis has affected their visual processing. This examination typically takes 45 minutes – 1 hour and is standardized to the patient’s age and gender. Next, the optometrist will assess and review with the family to highlight areas of success and improvement. We strongly recommend that both parents are present for this consultation. The optometrist will review a great deal of information and it can be overwhelming to relay information later. While some children are self-conscious about their results, we recommend keeping them in the room so they can have a better understanding of their diagnosis and how it impacts them. The consultation takes approximately 30 minutes. We recommend setting aside 2 hours for this appointment.
Step 4: Lastly, the vision therapy coordinator will answer any additional questions and review insurance coverage and scheduling. Vision therapy patients are seen twice a week by our trained vision therapists and will participate in group sessions unless specified. Home-based exercises are assigned monthly and may be changed at the request of the vision therapist. Our program varies in length from 4-6 months depending on diagnosis, severity, and adherence to the home exercises.
Payment and Insurance Options
Vision Therapy is an investment in your child and while it may seem expensive, we are in-network for and accept most major insurances and medical assistance plans! Our Vision Therapy coordinator is more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding insurance coverage or possible out of pocket costs..