therapy is a series of treatment procedures prescribed by optometrists to
improve certain types of vision problems that cannot be helped with only
glasses or contact lenses. Vision therapy is much akin to physical
therapy for the eyes, during which vision disorders are corrected to improve
patients' visual function and performance.
therapy treats vision problems children have when using their eyes up close,
especially at school. Problems with tracking, eye teaming, and focusing
make it impossible for children to read, learn, and remain on task. Vision
therapy also corrects lazy eyes and crossed eyes, and this is done without the
need for surgery. These vision problems are all types of disorders of
binocular vision, meaning how we use our two eyes together. (See "Vision
and Reading," "Lazy Eyes,"
and "Crossed Eyes.")
science of modern vision therapy began in the 1930's and is supported by
decades of research, not to mention the testimony of thousands of patients
whose vision and lives have been improved. (Please refer to "Documentation
on the Effectiveness of Vision Therapy" for specific clinical
therapy is prescribed by optometrists who specialize in children's vision.
Doctors who are board-certified to provide vision therapy have received
certification to diagnosis and treat binocular vision and oculomotor problems.
To specialize in vision therapy, doctors must complete extensive post-graduate
training beyond their optometric degree, at which time they are eligible to
sit for their national boards to become fully certified as specialists in
children's vision. A doctor's title after passing the national board in
vision therapy is Fellow in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development,
or F.C.O.V.D. Optometrists who provide vision therapy but who have
not yet sat for their certification exams are board-eligible Associates in the
College of Optometrists in Vision Development.
a child can begin a vision therapy program, he or she must be seen by the
doctor for a complete developmental vision evaluation and diagnostic workup.
In addition to checking the child's eye health and sharpness of vision (visual
acuity as measured by the eye chart), the doctor will complete a comprehensive
assessment to evaluate the child's eye teaming, tracking, focusing, visual
perception, and eye-hand coordination skills. A computerized recording of the
child's eye movements during reading may also be taken. The doctor
interprets the results of the exam, notes any areas of concern, and makes a
recommendation for therapy based upon the test results.
the child begins therapy, the doctor will meet with the therapy staff and put
together an individualized therapy program and set of treatment goals for the
patient. This treatment plan is thoroughly discussed with the parents
before the child starts therapy and every effort is made to answer their
questions, including insurance coverage and available appointment times.
child's vision therapy program consists of an individualized plan of treatment
procedures using lenses, prisms, instrumentation, visual exercises, and
occlusion meant to return the patient to normal vision. A trained therapist
under the direction of the doctor works with the patient once or twice a week
for a period from three to twelve months, depending upon the nature and
severity of the patient's condition and how often the patient is seen in the
office. Usually home therapy is also prescribed to reinforce the new skills
the patient is learning at the doctor's office. Eye patching is often a
part of the treatment program. The patient is regularly seen by the doctor for
progress examinations as he or she proceeds through therapy and meets each set
of treatment goals.
learn more about vision therapy, click here.
goals of vision therapy depends upon the patient's vision problem:
with eye teaming, tracking, focusing, visual motor integration, and visual
perception problems have weak visual skills which undermine the learning
process and can cause such problems as difficulty reading, double vision,
headaches, eye strain, and short attention spans. For these patients, therapy
improves their visual skills so they can function normally in the classroom.
(See Vision and Reading)
with crossed, turned, wandering, or lazy eyes only see with one eye at a time.
Their brains suppress or "turns off" their weak eye. Therapy is
designed to straighten the eye and teach the patient to use both eyes together
for normal visual function. (For more complete information, see crossed
eyes or lazy eyes.)
encouraging news for parents is vision therapy is very effective in treating
vision-based learning problems. Unfortunately, children who struggle
because of vision problems often suffer needlessly because their condition
goes undiagnosed. School screenings and pediatricians only check
children's distance vision using the eye chart. They can't run the
specialized tests required to determine if a child has all the visual skills
he needs to succeed in school. Special near-point tests must be done by
a developmental optometrist in order to identify and diagnose the problem.
Ask your family optometrist to refer you to an eye doctor who specializes in
this area of care.
the problem has been correctly identified, vision therapy can return your
child's visual system to normal! We invite you to read the
following comments from some of our patients.
patients progress through therapy, improvement in their visual function
results in a noticeably higher quality of life. Please read a few of the
following examples of comments parents have made about the many ways vision
therapy has helped their children.
I brought Megan to the vision therapy center, she hated to read. She would
lose her place, put words in or leave words out, and sometimes she would turn
words around. It was a constant battle last year to get her to do her
homework, often taking two or three hours to do work that should have been
finished in thirty minutes. Her report cards for the last two years were
terrible. She was getting C's and D's. Then we found out she had an eye
teaming and tracking problem which didn't let her eyes work together when she
read. We started vision therapy to retrain the way she used her eyes, and we
worked really hard. Now we're seeing the good results. On her last report card
she had all B's and even one A. Megan is really enjoying reading now that her
eyes are fixed. She has read forty books for her school reading program
already this year! Best of all, homework is no longer a problem. She does her
assignments as soon as she gets home from school and is finished in half an
hour. The whole family is enjoying the results of her therapy. Thank you very
much for making our evenings more enjoyable!"
when I look at Jason's preschool pictures, I'm momentarily shocked by the
crossed eye. It's so easy to forget--I'm used to seeing his eyes
straight. I'm so glad we decided to put Jason in vision therapy. We'd
been told by another doctor that surgery was Jason's best option, but my wife
and I did our research. We knew that surgery could make the eye look
better but not necessarily perform better. Also, we discovered that
surgeries don't always hold and sometimes have to be repeated when the child
is older. A friend told us about vision therapy. When we met with
the doctor, everything he said about vision and Jason's crossed eye made
sense--especially the part about having to teach Jason's brain how to use his
two eyes together so there was no need for the weak eye to suppress and turn
in. By the time Jason finished therapy, both eyes were perfectly
straight, and he had normal vision and depth perception--all without surgery!
I would strongly recommend that parents educate themselves on all of their
eye, or amblyopia:
time I looked at my daughter I felt guilty about her lazy eye because we
hadn't found it until she was in the fourth grade. Two different eye doctors
told us that nothing could be done to help Laura because she was too old and
past the age when treatment would be effective. Thank heavens I found the
vision therapy center and set up an appointment. She went from being nearly
blind in her weak eye to normal vision! And to top it all off, she became the
best hitter on her softball team. My husband and I are so thankful to
the doctors and vision therapy staff. They not only helped our daughter
achieve normal vision, but they saved us from some serious guilt!"
whole web page! Patients of the Wichita
Vision Development Center invite you to hear how vision therapy has
improved their children's vision and changed their lives.
Original copies of these comments from parents, teachers, and patients
are on file at our office with their written permission to share.
therapy staff at the Wichita Vision Development Center
would like you to get to know us, and we cordially invite you into our therapy
room through a photographic tour. You'll find
pictures of patients learning new visual skills and a more complete
explanation about some of the things children in therapy do.
locate a developmental optometrist who provides vision
therapy in your area, contact the national certifying board of the College of
Optometrists in Vision Development at 1-888-268-3770 toll free or visit their
web site at http://www.covd.org. In
Kansas, many optometrists have taken additional courses in identifying
binocular vision problems in children. Ask your family optometrist is he
or she provides vision therapy or if they can make a referral to a colleague