What is Vision Therapy?
Vision therapy is a sequence of therapeutic procedures that develop efficient visual skills and visual processing. An integral part of vision therapy is an individually prescribed program monitored by a doctor using lenses, filters, occluders, specialized instruments and computer programs. Through vision therapy, patients learn to process and interpret visual information while learning to use their visual abilities in a new way with the guidance from our doctors and vision therapists.
Vision therapy can help people of all ages to develop efficient visual skills and visual processing, which can help with learning problems and behavioral problems.
Who benefits from Vision Therapy?
Vision therapy has made a profound difference in people of all ages. Vision is our dominant sense and primary source for gathering information in learning. 80% of what we learn is through our eyes. Vision and/or visual perceptual difficulties can have a great effect on how we read, learn and achieve academically.
The following provides information about some of the many conditions which can be positively affected by Vision Therapy
Difficulties in reading, writing or learning can be the result of a vision problem. Vision therapy can be used as a non-invasive treatment for children thought to have a learning disorder. With a diagnosis of a vision related problem parents can finally see that a learning disorder really is not the problem, rather a symptom.
Amblyopia, or Lazy Eye, is the loss or lack of development of vision in (usually) one eye. It occurs at the level of the brain, not the eye itself. Amblyopia is often associated with one of the eyes having a higher refractive prescription and/or an eye being turned in, out, up, or down. It is also possible but less commonly seen to have amblyopia be caused by an eye health problem. Regardless of the cause, early detection offers the best chances for a successful outcome. Patients can benefit from vision therapy for the more common causes of Amblyopia at any age.
Strabismus, or eye turn, is a misalignment of the eyes. Strabismus is a condition in which the eyes do not fixate as a pair; rather, one eye deviates inward, outward or alternate, giving them a “crossed” look. Strabismus also frequently leads to amblyopia. Sometimes surgery is required to help “align” the eyes more closely. However, the brain is the real controller of eye alignment, and if it has not been taught how to fuse the images from the two eyes into one, creating a 3D picture of the world, then surgery is frequently cosmetic, without functional improvement. Vision therapy is recommended as early as possible to achieve the best results in order to teach the brain how to properly join the images from the two eyes. (See Fixing My Gaze: a Scientist’s Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions, by Sue Barry for a neuroscientist’s viewpoint.)
At birth, small occasional eyeturns are common. However, if the eyeturn appears constant, or does not disappear by age 6 months, the child should be seen for vision evaluation. Another common eyeturn is crossed eyes that appear between ages 1 and 5 years. These should be evaluated as soon as they appear, so that they do not become constant.
Convergence insufficiency occurs when your eyes do not properly align while focusing on a near object. When you read or look at a close object, your eyes should converge, or turn inward together to align, resulting in a single image. When a patient is not able to do so, he/she tend to experience double vision, strain, fatigue and poor reading comprehension. Vision therapy can greatly alleviate these symptoms patients experience. This is a common problem in children who have reading difficulty in school and adults who find themselves transposing numbers.
Diplopia, or double vision, is the result of both eyes independently focusing on different images instead of both eyes fusing the images into a single picture by the brain. There can be many possible causes for diplopia but once the source is diagnosed, vision therapy can be very useful to correct the condition.
Poor Binocular Coordination
Binocular Vision is the ability to align both eyes on a visual point and combine the images seen by each eye into a single multidimensional image. Vision therapy can help these patients train both eyes to be able to work together.
Sports Vision Improvement
Vision therapy can help athletes improve their perceptual speed, reaction time, 3D vision, peripheral awareness, and eye-hand coordination. We use the Nike Sparq Vapor Strobe training goggles in sport vision therapy to improve perceptual speed. (Athletes with seizure disorder should not use these goggles).
Vision Rehabilitation for Brain Injury
and Neurologic Impairment
Vision Rehabilitation Therapy can be used to treat vision related problems due to many conditions including; neurologic disorders, whiplash, “mild” to severe traumatic brain injuries, stroke, anoxic injury, and cerebral palsy. Dizziness and disorientation which are often attributed to vestibular issues may be visually based. Our Brain Injury page explains more.
See our Brain Injury page.
Autism, Down’s Syndrome, Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Cerebral Palsy and Dyslexia.
ADD & ADHD
While vision therapy does not cure ADD or ADHD, many children with vision deficits that keep them from being able to sustain their visual focus and eye teaming for near tasks are misdiagnosed as having ADD or ADHD. Vision problems should be ruled out whenever there is a suspicion of ADD or ADHD. Something as simple as the correct glasses for nearpoint, or vision therapy to allow them to sustain their visual focus and alignment for reading, writing, and other near tasks may remediate the ADD or ADHD symptoms.
AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS
Children on the autism spectrum have a higher rate of visual deficits than the general population. We work successfully with many moderate to high functioning children and adults on the autism spectrum to enhance their quality of life and performance ability. Visual deficits in both shape and space perception are common in this group and can frequently be remediated through vision therapy. Toe walking may often be alleviated with special rehabilitation yoked prism glasses. Patients in this group also often respond well to Intuitive Colorimeter tinted lenses. Temple Grandin endorses vision therapy for patients with spectrum disorders.
VISION REHABILITATION FOR OTHER SPECIAL NEEDS
Patients with Down Syndrome, developmental disability and other special needs frequently suffer from a greater rate of visual deficits than the general population. We are happy to work on realistic, specific vision goals developed with the family for any of our patients.
Think You Know Your Stuff About VISION?
The optometrists and staff at Dr. Penelope S. Suter’s office are proud to serve patients in Bakersfield as well as surrounding communities such as Los Angeles, Arvin, Delano, Frazier Park, Lake Isabella, Lamont, Lancaster, Palmdale, Porterville, Shafter, Taft, Tehachapi, Visalia, Wasco and many more. Our services include, but are not limited to, general optometry, vision therapy, diagnosis and treatment of eye disease and conditions and the treatment of vision issues that result from brain injury or other neurological compromise.