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What Is Vision Therapy?

To many, it sounds like something which is just too good to be true: That it is possible, with hard work and the direction of an experienced developmental optometrist, to correct your vision without the use of lenses just doesn’t seem plausible to some people. However, we believe that this has a great deal to do with the generally limited exposure that most people have had with regards to vision disorders. As far as most realize, a vision disorder is simply farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism, and these disorders are treated with eye glasses, contact lenses, or laser surgery. For the disorders with which people are most familiar, it remains true that corrective lenses or laser surgery are our only known solutions.

However, there are a bevy of other vision disorders which do not fit into the publicly recognized spectrum:
    • Amblyopia (underdeveloped vision in one eye and/or suppression of vision in one eye)
    • Strabismus (“crossed eyes” or other eye turn problems)
    • Convergence Insufficiency 
    • Divergence Insufficiency
    • Focusing Problems
    • Eye Teaming Problems
    • Eye Movement Disorders

 

These disorders not only are difficult to treat with lenses, but are acknowledged by the American Optometric Association as being treatable with vision therapy. These same disorders are the ones which are not tested for in the standard eye examination, because the standard examination focuses on problems of eyesight (visual acuity), rather than vision (which also includes the neurological pathways between the eye and the brain). A comprehensive eye examination by a licensed developmental optometrist is often the only way to detect these disorders. Vision therapy is the process by which the developmental optometrist reduces or eliminates the discovered disorders.

Vision therapy consists of a series of vision procedures which are performed under direct supervision of the vision therapist and/or developmental optometrist. These procedures are individualized based on the specific needs of the patient. While the type of disorder and its severity are certainly major determining factors, we have found that even very similar occurrences of a disorder can still require variations in approach because of other facts surrounding the patient. As such, vision therapy is highly individual. Generally speaking, however, the process includes sessions with the therapist, usually between 30 and 60 minutes once or twice per week, during which time the patient is led through a series of exercises focused on improving the neurological pathways between the eye and the brain. We find it is also helpful to prescribe at-home exercises in order to help the patient improve more quickly.

The duration of treatment can also vary widely, from as few as a couple of months to as long as one to two years. However, whatever the duration, the result is assured: Improved vision and improved ability to focus, learn, and thrive.

For more information about vision therapy, or to schedule a comprehensive vision exam, call Dr. Heddle today.


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