Vision Therapy Overview
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision is a complex process that is learned and developed over time and must be integrated with other systems in the body. Vision works with speech and language, balance and coordination, space and time, cognitive, emotional and attention systems in the brain. Vision can be disrupted by such things as developmental delays, prolonged stress, lack of sleep or good nutrition, certain medical conditions and injury. Vision therapy programs are designed to remediate and enhance vision and its connection with other systems and help patients achieve success in school, work, sports, and life. Vision therapy is an individualized, supervised training program that optimizes how vision is used in everyday life.
Each vision therapy program is individually tailored to meet the needs of the patient. Visual skills in areas such as focusing, eye teaming and tracking are learned and integrated with movement, balance, hearing, speech, timing, and visualization in order to develop and improve overall functioning. As skills are learned and perfected, new skills are added. Unlike other forms of exercise, the goal of vision therapy is not to strengthen eye muscles, but rather to develop the eye-brain link.
How Can Vision Therapy Help Me or My Child?
Vision therapy can be used effectively to treat such conditions as convergence or accommodative insufficiency, strabismus (eye turn), amblyopia (lazy eye), and oculomotor dysfunction (tracking problems). Also, many children diagnosed with ADHD, learning disabilities, autism, and dyslexia have functional vision problems that interfere with learning, and can benefit from vision training.
Symptoms that indicated that vision therapy can make a positive difference include:
- Blurry or uncomfortable vision when reading or doing schoolwork
- Headaches or eyestrain
- Skipping lines or words when reading
- Avoidance and/or fights to do homework
- Head tilt or turn while reading or watching TV
- Poor hand-eye coordination
- Poor reading comprehension
- Poor memory
Although many patients have never heard of vision therapy, it is well-known and well-researched among optometrists world-wide. More recently, the NIH has funded studies that support the efficacy of vision therapy. It has been used successfully in different forms for approximately 100 years and is taught in all optometry schools. Our doctors and vision therapists are specifically trained to diagnose and successfully treat visual disorders through the use of vision therapy.
What Happens in Vision Therapy?
Vision therapy sessions include procedures designed to enhance the brain’s ability to control eye movements, tracking, focusing, eye teaming, and visual processing. Visual-motor skills and endurance are developed using therapeutic lenses, prisms, filters, and procedures.
Patients typically visit the office once per week for a 30 minute session with one of our trained vision therapists. Exercises are designed to target different aspects of the visual system and to assist in learning and enhancing specific skills identified in the examination. These sessions are then supplemented by “homework” procedures.
Follow-up performance evaluations are conducted every 10-12 weeks with one of our doctors to assess progress and continue to design the most effective training program. Throughout the program, the patient’s newly acquired visual skills are reinforced and integrated with auditory, motor and cognitive skills.
The Importance of Vision Therapy Homework
We recommend that patients practice the activities that they learn in the office every week with our vision therapists. For best results, we recommend that patients practice their exercises at home 4-5 times per week, for 10-15 minutes per day. This repetition will reinforce the eye-brain connection and ensure that activities are mastered before progressing to more advanced exercises. We believe that homework is an integral part of vision therapy, ensuring that the gains made in vision therapy continue to support success in school, work, sports and life.
Billing and Payment
Each vision therapy office visit costs $150, with a portion being submitted to insurance and the remaining balance paid by the patient. At all three of our EyeCare Associates locations in Connecticut, we offer multiple payment options for patients, including payment plans and prepayment discounts.