Vision is much more than just being able to see 20/20. In order for the visual system to work properly, the eyes must work well together as a team and the brain must be able to correctly process the visual information that it receives. Dysfunction in either of these skills can cause learning delays and/or eyestrain and usually cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Vision therapy is a highly individualized, supervised program designed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual cognitive deficiencies. Prior to beginning a vision therapy program a thorough binocular vision evaluation or visual perceptual skills evaluation will be performed. A vision therapy program typically requires visits to the office every two to four weeks. You will also be given exercises to be done daily at home.
Eye tracking refers to the ability to accurately switch fixation from one target to another and to follow a moving target smoothly and accurately. These skills are essential for reading. Weak eye tracking skills may cause a child to lose his or her place when reading, have difficulty copying from the blackboard, and skip words when reading.
Learn what Mayo Clinic has to say regarding treatment: Best Treatment Determined for Childhood Eye Problem
Convergence insufficiency is the most common binocular vision problem in children. Typical symptoms of children with convergence insufficiency include eye strain when reading, an aversion to reading, difficulty focusing when reading and in extreme cases, double vision when reading. It is easily diagnosed, but is often not checked during a routine eye examination. Dr. Cassandria Warr follows the protocol developed by the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial group to successfully treat many patients with convergence insufficiency. To learn more, please visit the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial, and read this article from the Associated Press: Kids' eye problems often emerge in homework battle.
Visual Perceptual Skill Training
Visual perception is made up of several categories. Weaknesses in any area can cause difficulties with learning.
- Visual Discrimination is the ability to differentiate between objects and shapes. It gives us the ability to notice subtle differences and to determine if something does or does not belong.
- Visual Memory is the ability to store visual details of what has been seen in short-term memory.
- Spatial Relations is the ability to orient one's body in space and to perceive the position of objects in relation to one's self or other objects.
- Form Constancy is the ability to recognize shapes, letters or words regardless of their orientation.
- Sequential Memory is the ability to recall a series or sequence of shapes, letters or numbers.
- Figure-Ground is the ability to locate and identify shapes and objects embedded in a busy environment.
- Visual Closure is the ability to look at an incomplete shape or object and fill in the missing details in order to identify what it would be if it were complete. This skill requires abstract problem solving.
Dr. Cassandria Warr conducts a full examination of each of these categories when evaluating visual perceptual skills. If needed, a personalized home and office based therapy program will be developed and then modified as skills improve or new needs arise.
For many patients, surgery is necessary to correct strabismus (a crossed or turned out eye). There are instances when vision therapy is used in conjunction with surgery to provide the best possible outcome. We can help to coordinate care with a local strabismus surgeon, if needed.
Amblyopia is poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during childhood. It is often called “lazy eye.” Amblyopia is common, affecting two out of every 100 people. There are three main causes of amblyopia: strabismus (crossed or turned out eye),a large difference in the eyeglass prescription between the eyes, and anything that causes the vision to be blocked in one eye (eg cataract or droopy eyelid). The best time to treat amblyopia is during childhood, while the eyes are still developing. Amblyopia can be treated with eyeglasses together with either patching or instilling eye drops in the good eye. Vision therapy exercises are also often done to help strengthen the weaker eye and improve depth perception. If strabismus is the cause of the amblyopia, surgery may be necessary.
Stress-induced Visual Difficulties
Twenty first century lifestyles demand more from our vision than ever before. Children and adults in our technological society constantly use their near vision at work and at home. C.V.S. (Computer Vision Syndrome) is one of the fastest growing health concerns in the workplace today. Environmental stresses on the visual system (including excessive computer use or close work) can induce eyestrain, headaches, and/or visual difficulties which can be effectively treated with corrective lenses and/or Vision Therapy.
Vision Therapy is administered directly in our office. Dr. Warr will develop an in-office treatment plan, which will be used in conjunction with an at home treatment program. Most conditions can be treated within several months.
Vision therapy can effectively treat eye movement disorders, inefficient eye teaming, misaligned eyes, poorly developed vision, focusing problems, and other visual information processing disorders.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Vision Therapy New?
Although it is a dynamic optometric specialty that improves visual function and performance, vision therapy is actually an outgrowth of orthoptics. Orthoptics, which literally means "straightening of the eyes,” was introduced to this country by physicians in the late 1800s. As physicians became more focused on eyeglasses, medication, and surgery, the benefits of orthoptics were taught to fewer and fewer practitioners. However, optometrists in the mid 1900's took the best that orthoptics had to offer, and pioneered the development of vision therapy.
What Is Involved in a Vision Therapy Program?
Each program is tailor-made for each patient. Patients will typically come to the office once every week for in-office training. In addition, patients will be given a set of exercises to do at home. This reinforces what was learned during the office therapy training sessions. Commitment to the therapy program and maintaining a schedule of visits to the office are important in the success of the program. For patients who are unable to visit the office frequently, some binocular vision problems can be treated with an at-home training program that can be done on your computer. The programs are designed to address your weaknesses and can be monitored by the doctor.
Will My Insurance Cover Vision Therapy?
Vision Therapy is rarely fully covered by insurance. Some health insurance policies cover the medical aspect of vision therapy. Vision care plans typically cover eye examinations, eyeglasses, or contact lenses and never cover vision therapy.
How Long Does Vision Therapy Last?
When the program is complete, the benefits of vision therapy will last for a lifetime. Accurate focusing and the efficient use of both eyes together is a reflex which, when conditioned, should operate effortlessly. Self-monitoring activities are prescribed at the end of each therapy program. Non-medical vision therapy, as related to visual perception, prepares children for lifelong learning, and it fills in gaps for many adults who have lost visual skills and abilities.