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Vision Therapy

What is Vision Therapy

Vision therapy, (also known as orthoptics, vision training, visual training, eye training) is an organized therapeutic regimen utilized to treat a number of neuromuscular, neurophysiological, and neurosensory conditions which interfere with visual function. Vision therapy encompasses a wide variety of procedures to improve a diagnosed neuromuscular, or neurophysiological visual dysfunction. The treatment can be relatively simple such as patching an eye as part of amblyopia therapy, or it may be complex involving sophisticated instrumentation and computers.

Vision therapy usually involves a series of treatment visits during which carefully planned functional activities are carried out by the patient under close supervision in order to relieve the visual problem. The specific activities and instrumentation are determined by the nature and severity of the condition. The frequency and duration of treatments are dictated by the individual situation, although established guidelines are available suggesting appropriate length of therapy for various diagnoses.

When Is Vision Therapy Necessary?

Most vision problems can be very easily corrected with eyeglasses. In fact about 80-90 percent of the vision problem we detect can be treated with glasses or contact lenses. However, approximately 15-20 percent of the population with symptoms of blurred vision and eyestrain have vision problems that cannot be treated successfully using glasses alone. It is this group of people that need vision therapy. Vision therapy is generally required to treat problems of binocular vision, accommodation, ocular motility, amblyopia, strabismus, and visual information processing. Individuals with these problems experience eyestrain when reading or doing other close work, inability to work quickly, sleepiness, inability to attend and concentrate, double vision, and loss of vision. Even more significantly, children with amblyopia and strabismus face the possible loss of vision if an appropriate vision therapy program is not initiated in a timely fashion. Children with visual information processing problems may have difficulty learning.

Is Vision Therapy Effective?

There is extensive clinical and scientific support for vision therapy as a treatment modality. Much of this support is in the optometric literature since most of the development of vision therapy has been done by optometrists. An excellent review of the literature on the effectiveness of vision therapy is available from the American Optometric Association (AOA). You can obtain a copy by contacting the AOA at 243 N. Lindbergh Ave, St. Louis, MO. 63141, 314-991-4100.

The prognosis for all accommodative (focusing) and non-strabismic binocular vision (eye teaming) problems is excellent (85%-95% success). In recent years there have been several studies that have reviewed success rates for various types of accommodative and binocular disorders. These studies clearly demonstrate the efficacy of vision therapy for these conditions.

More Information about Vision Therapy

The following links provide more information about vision therapy:
  1. Dr. Scheiman: This site contains information about vision therapy and the locations of Dr. Scheiman's offices.
  2. College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) : This site contains valuable information about vision therapy. You will also find the directory of COVD Board Certified members and Associate members at this site.
  3. Parents Active for Vision Education (PAVE) : This is a site that I suggest you recommend to parents of children who require a comprehensive vision examination. Parents can receive information about optometrists who provide vision therapy from this site.
  4. American Optometric Association (AOA) : This site provides general information about vision care. It is also a site at which you can find a directory of optometrists specializing in low vision or pediatrics/vision therapy.
  5. This is an excellent resource about binocular vision, vision and learning and vision therapy. You can also search for optometrists who specialize in vision therapy at this site.
  6. Computer Vision Syndrome: Work at a computer is very visually demanding causing numerous eye and vision symptoms. If this is a problem for you visit, and take the computer vision syndrome test.
  7. Eye Resources on the Internet : Extensive list of links for vision information. Includes all population including pediatrics, patients with acquired brain injury and visual impairment.
  8. Position Paper: Vision, Learning and Dyslexia : A Joint Organizational Policy Statement of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Optometric Association
  9. Position Paper: Vision Therapy: Information for Health Care and Other Allied Professionals A Joint Organizational Policy Statement of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Optometric Association
  10. Position Paper: Tinted Lenses for Reading Disorders: The Use of Tinted Lenses for the Treatment of Dyslexia and other Related Reading and Learning Disorders
  11. Eye Examinations in Children: Discusses when children should be scheduled for eye examinations
  12. Learning disabilities, dyslexia and vision: a subject review: Published in Optometry Volume 3 / Number 9 / September 2002 pp 553-575. This article is a rebuttal to the political position taken by several ophthalmological organizations against optometry's clinical treatment of learning related vision problems.
  13. The Efficacy of Optometric Vision Therapy - AOA Reserach Review: Review of 238 articles on the effectivensss of vision therapy
  14. Learning Related Visual Problems Education and Evaluation: National PTA Resolution Adopted June 1999
  15. The Scientific Basis for & Efficacy of Optometric Vision Therapy: Review of vision therapy research Kenneth Ciuffreda
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