Vision therapy is a type of eye training that is doctor supervised, non-surgical and customized program of visual activities designed to correct certain vision problems and/ or improve visual skills. The aim of vision therapy is to teach the visual system to correct itself.
Vision therapy is performed to improve vision skills like eye movement control, eye coordination and perception. It is an attempt to develop or improve visual skills, abilities and improve the visual comfort, ease and efficiency.
It is a type of physical therapy for the eyes and brain and is a highly effective non-surgical treatment for many common visual problems. It also includes the use of devices like optical lenses and prisms. In addition, one can perform computer assisted visual activities. Other devices like balance boards, metronomes and non-computerized visual instruments can also play an important role in the customized vision therapy program.
Usually vision therapy is used to treat vision problems that cannot be treated successfully with eye glasses, contact lens and / or surgery alone and to achieve clear, comfortable, binocular vision.
The human brain has a significant amount of neuroplasticity and can change its structure and function in response to external stimuli. These changes initially were thought to occur only in children, but now can occur in adults also. Properly devised and administered vision therapy can cause neurological changes that can correct vision problems and improve visual performance.
Problems that vision therapy can correct include
Amblyopia - This is also called as “lazy eye”. In amblyopia one eye or both eyes do not attain normal vision due to various reasons and end up with problems of binocular vision.
Strabismus - Vision therapy is effective in treating some conditions like convergence insufficiency and intermittent squints. For large angle squints, vision therapy may not be successful.
Latent squints - Some squints can cause eye strain especially while reading thought there may not be an apparent squint. These can be improved with vision therapy.
Eye movement disorders - Vision therapy can help in improving the eye coordination and hand eye coordination. It can improve the accuracy of eye movements during reading and close work.
Accommodative (focusing) disorders - Eye teaming needs to be good for near and far focusing. Vision therapy can help in improving this.
Other problems - Other vision problems for which vision therapy may be effective include visual-perceptual disorders, vision problems associated with developmental disabilities and vision problems associated with acquired brain injury (such as from a stroke).
There are many tools that can be used and include accommodative flippers, Hart chart, life saver circle cards, Brock string and eccentric circle card, cat card, barrel card, door saccades, letter pyramids, number pyramids, accommodative flippers and Kirshner arrows.
Commonly five features are improved with vision therapy – accommodative facility, divergence, convergence, oculomotor control and visuomotor integration.
This is generally conducted in once or twice weekly sessions of 30 minutes and home based therapy is given to be performed at home.
To help improve the visual comfort and efficiency, to improve basic visual skills and improve the interpretation of visual information.