There are two questions we frequently get when people come to our office for the first time. First, what is vision therapy? And second, why haven’t you heard about vision therapy before?
So what is vision therapy? The easiest way to describe it is that vision therapy is like physical therapy for your eyes. Vision therapy involves a program of vision techniques to help develop or improve visual skills and visual information processing. Visual skills are more than just good eyesight or seeing 20/20 vision and include eye tracking, eye focusing, eye coordination, and depth perception. These visual skills are needed for success in reading, learning, and sports.
Vision therapy programs are individualized for each patient and include many different techniques and tools to help build visual skills. Vision therapy does not strengthen eye muscles, but trains the brain to better control eye muscles for improved visual comfort and efficiency. And since we know that brains of all ages can be trained (neuroplasticity) vision therapy can help patients of all ages, including people with vision problems following a brain injury.
So now that we know what vision therapy is, why haven’t you heard about it before? Once reason is the long held belief that seeing 20/20 vision means you have perfect vision. That means that kids who pass their vision screenings at school or the pediatrician’s office are not thought to have any vision problems. In fact many of the kids we see who are struggling with reading and learning have 20/20 vision or better! But many times vision problems are not considered for these kids until other avenues have been explored first.
Another reason is that there is misinformation among some professionals about what conditions vision therapy actually treats and its effectiveness. One misbelief is that vision therapy treats learning problems, including dyslexia. We do not treat learning problems or dyslexia. What we do treat are vision problems that can hinder a child’s ability to learn. As for the effectiveness of vision therapy, there are many clinical studies and research reports that demonstrate the effectiveness of vision therapy treatment. A summary of vision therapy research can be found here.
Lastly some believe that vision therapy treatment is not worth the cost. Since most insurances do not cover vision therapy services, many patients and their families bear the responsibility of paying for vision therapy services. And while some see the cost, we see the value of vision therapy and how it can improve a child’s ability and enthusiasm to read and learn as well as improve their self esteem.
And that is why we continue to work everyday to live up to our promise – to make the lives of our patients easier. Easier to finish homework. Easier to complete assignments. Easier to enjoy reading. Easier to learn. Easier to enjoy being a kid!