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A Short History of Vision Therapy

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What Is Vision Therapy?  Who can it help?

Vision Therapy (VT) is a treatment prescribed by Developmental Optometrist and Neuro-Optometrists.  These are a sub-specialty area within optometry.

Vision Therapy enables patients gain visual skills by developing the visual system through a specific therapy regimen designed to treat specific visual needs.  Sessions take place regularly, in-office, under the supervision of a Developmental or Neuro-Optometrist, and are usually combined with daily home activities.

Vision therapy successfully treats and improves the following eye conditions:

  • Strabismus (eye turn)
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Convergence Insufficiency
  • Eye-tracking or focusing problems
  • Post-concussion vision problems

People with these problems often struggle with school or work, and at times, this leads to self-esteem issues.  If someone has had a brain injury, stroke, or concussion, therapy enable them to regain visual skills that were lost.  Vision Therapy retrains the neural processes of the brain thus improving the eye-brain connection.

Aids and equipment such as prisms, therapeutic lenses, patches, etc. are used, but the majority of the therapy and the reason it is successful is because it is directed by a qualified individual experienced in helping someone gain or regain skills.  The goal of Vision Therapy is to help patients improve or develop visual skills or abilities in an engaging and motivating way so they become automatic.  Once achieved, in order to increase visual comfort and effectively process visual information.

At times, people think that Vision Therapy is a technique to improve eyeglass prescription.  Although we do offer procedures, such as Orthokeratology and other methods to do that, the purpose of Vision Therapy is to improve vision.  Eyeglasses or contacts are often used in addition to Vision Therapy.

Who Can Benefit From Vision Therapy?

Both adults and children with a vision disorder can benefit from VT.

Someone with a visual disorder may experience any of the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness while reading
  • Poor depth perception
  • Difficulty with sports
  • Floaters
  • Poor memory
  • Head tilt
  • Blurred vision
  • Covering or closing one eye

A child with poor visual skills will rarely complain of visual problems because they assume that they see the same as everyone else does.   They may struggle with school work and avoid reading.   That often leads to low self-esteem.  Improving a child's visual function will do more than just help with academic or work performance — it can change how they view themselves and improve their self-confidence and self-esteem.

How Did Vision Therapy Come About?

child reading 640×350Doctors have prescribed and offered Vision Therapy for over 100 years.  It was originally developed by ophthalmologists as a non-surgical alternative to treat strabismus (eye turn).  Those eye surgeons realized that surgery for strabismus (an eye turn) often does not have the long term outcomes that were intended.  That is still the case, meaning that surgery for strabismsu rarely has long term benefits and often, the eye turn returns.  Those original ophthalmologists created a series of visual exercises called “orthoptics”, meaning  “straightening of eye”.

The original orthoptics was effective in straightening the patients eyes, but was not intended to address or improve other symptoms of visual dysfunction, such as tracking problems, poor depth-perception, focusing, and processing issues.

An innovative group of optometrists then realized that Vision Therapy could be even more effective and could apply to other areas of learning because vision is much more than a simple mechanical neuro-muscular system.  Vision actually occurs in the brain rather than in the eyes.  These optometrists then further developed and expand Vision Therapy into the successful method of visual improvement it is today. This new form of Vision Therapy has been giving patients a whole new way of interacting with the world.

History of Vision Therapy from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Please call our office, Family Eye Care, to schedule a functional eye exam so we can help you or your child improve vision skills for increased success and a  higher quality of life through Vision Therapy.

We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, offer and provide Vision Therapy and other services to patients who live in Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Matawan, Marlboro, Manalapan, South Amboy, South River and throughout New Jersey.

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Call Us 732-993-3420