Vision Therapy is certainly effective in helping adults and children with a lazy eye (amblyopia), eye turn (strabismus), and learning difficulties, but did you know that Vision Therapy is effective in preventing, reducing, or slowing myopia (nearsightedness)?
The fact of the matter is that rate of myopia is increasing in children. In the US, it has increased from about 25% to 40% over the past few decades. In Asia, some countries have a rte of myopia in children that approaches 90%.
Many have attributed it to the amount of screen time on digital devices. The concept is: “how you use your body, changes your body”. Someone who lifts weights or plays sports certainly changes their body. How we use our visual system, changes our visual system. It is not that the digital device “does it to us”, rather, it is how we use our visual system when working at near, computer, cell phone, text books, that changes our system and causes us to become more nearsighted. Many have sought a “cure”, and some have even proposed “outdoor time” as a cure. It is not the out-door time, but rather the less digital screen time, that helps curb the myopia. Obviously eyeglasses alone, that compensate and enable someone see more clearly at distance, does not correct the problem. The individual continues to use their visual system the same way, and that is the reason the myopia increases, and the prescription becomes higher each year. Vision Therapy addresses the root cause.
Other options have included special eyeglasses, special molding lenses at night (orthokeratology). There are special soft lenses; MiSight and Natural Vue, that are designed to stem the progression of myopia. Atropine is an eye drop medication that has been found to reduce the rate of progression. Vision Therapy addresses the core, the reason that someone is becoming more nearsighted. It puts out the “fire” rather than addressing the smoke. It teaches the individual how to use their visual system in a more effective way to prevent the progression, and at times reverse myopia.
If your child is becoming more nearsighted, it is best to evaluate what is causing the myopia. Not all eye doctors look for the same things. Some are eye surgeons and look primarily for eye disease. Some are prescribing regular eyeglasses as we have done for decades. But what if there was a way to address the underlying reason for the myopia? In our office, Family Eye Care in Old Bridge that is exactly what we do. We offer all of the options above, including a program that is specific to address myopia progression.
How Does Vision Therapy Work?
What is Vision Therapy and how does it work? Vision Therapy is a set of visual procedures tailored to your specific needs. Therapists specifically trained to provide Vision Therapy instruct using a specifically programed sequence, with the aid of specialized prisms or filters, computer programs, and other therapeutic tools. Vision Therapy works on the brain so that the brain and eyes work as a team. It enables the individuals to develop visual skills that include eye tracking, teaming, accommodation, convergence, visual processing, visual memory, focusing, and depth perception. There is usually an at-home component, to reinforce what is learned in the office.
Can’t I Just Do This At Home?
Similar to school-based teaching, that is directed by a teacher, Vision Therapy is most effective when directed by a Vision Therapist. It is not effective as a do-it-yourself program because it requires guidance and oversight by a skilled professional. It is evidence-based. Published data has shown that it is effective in helping the individual gain the visual skills that are needed and are precursors to reading, learning, overall school and sports performance.
How Does Vision Therapy Relate To Myopia?
As stated above, how you use your visual system, changes our visual system. Myopia occurs when the individual uses their visual system in a less than optimal way.
In Vision Therapy the individual learns how to use the visual system so the underlying problem no longer exists. We work on accommodation—the eyes’ ability to maintain clear focus on objects. Poor focusing skills have been linked to myopia. Fusion is the ability to use the two eyes together as a team. Fixation is the ability to “lock on” to what you are looking at, for example locking onto a word on a page. Saccades are a visual skill of being able to “jump” your eye accurately from one word or phrase to the next. Pursuits are the skill of being able to track across a line of print. These are SOME of the visual skills that we work on to improve.
Can an Occupational Therapist provide Vision Therapy?
Occupational Therapists are excellent at what they do. Physical Therapists are excellent as well. These are 2 different discipline and each brings benefit, but they don’t do the same thing. There is obviously some overlap between the two.
Vision Therapist are specifically trained to help individuals improve the visual system. It is a separate field, much as Occupational Therapy is separate from Physical Therapy.
What is the Bottom line?
If you or your child has myopia and is becoming more and more nearsighted each year, then schedule a functional visual assessment for your child.
To schedule your appointment with Dr. Moshe Roth and Dr. Steffani Tiomno, call Family Eye Care today.
Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Moshe Roth and Dr. Steffani Tiomno
- A: Children and adults with various visual dysfunctions can benefit from a personalized program of Vision Therapy. Visual dysfunction can manifest in many ways, including—but not limited to—behavioral and learning problems, coordination difficulties, headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and attention deficits. These problems cannot be addressed with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery.
- A: No. This is a subspecialty area within Optometry. Behavioral Optometrist also known as Developmental Optometrists are men and women who have a special interest and have taken additional work to know how to provide Vision Therapy. Some have attained the level of Fellowship in the College of Optometrist in Vision Development. As stated above, there are other types of therapists that claim to offer Vision Therapy, but only an eye doctor who understands how the visual system works, rather than how the eye works, can prescribe the necessary visual treatments for optimal results.
Family Eye Care serves patients from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Woodbridge, Edison, and throughout New Jersey.
"name": "#1: Who can benefit from vision therapy?",
"text": "Children and adults with visual dysfunction can benefit from a personalized program of vision therapy. Visual dysfunction can manifest in many ways, including but not limited to behavioral and learning problems, coordination difficulties, headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and attention deficits."
"name": "#2: Do all optometrists offer vision therapy?",
"text": "No. You should only seek vision therapy from a qualified optometrist who has experience performing vision therapy for a variety of visual disorders. Other types of therapists sometimes claim to offer vision therapy, but only an eye doctor can prescribe the necessary visual treatments for the best results.
Family Eye Care serves patients from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Woodbridge, Edison, and throughout New Jersey."