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Common Vision Therapy Questions

What is the difference between eyesight and vision?

Eyesight is the physical process of detecting patterns of light and contrast with the eyes. It is the ability to see small objects at a given distance clearly. The accepted measurement is 20/20 visual acuity. Vision is the learned process that allows the brain to efficiently gather and use the information that is seen through the eyes. Vision provides the brain with an efficient channel for monitoring our attempts to move through, or change the environment. Vision includes skills such as eye tracking, eye teaming, focusing and perceptual relationships.

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is an individualized treatment program designed to correct visual system deficiencies caused by stress, inadequate sensorimotor development, or trauma to the nervous system, all of which interfere with the ability to efficiently use the visual system.

Vision therapy teaches the brain how to use the eyes effectively to gather information, understand it quickly and react to it appropriately. A vision therapy program typically includes the use of special lenses, prisms or filters, in association with procedures designed to enhance the brain’s ability to control eye alignment, eye movements, focusing ability and eye teamwork. High levels of visual-motor efficiency and endurance are developed during carefully monitored therapy sessions. The new skills are brought together and become automatic by repetition and integration with motor and cognitive skills.

Can vision therapy help people with learning problems?

Yes! Vision therapy can be an important part of the overall treatment of a person’s learning problem. Vision and sensorimotor deficits can cause eyestrain, headaches, blurred or double vision, reading problems, and attention difficulties. Even intelligent, highly motivated people can be severely handicapped by these problems in the academic or work environment. Correcting these deficits allows affected people to benefit from academic remediation and to achieve their full potential in the classroom and workplace.

What are some symptoms of learning related vision disorders?

• Dislike or avoidance of reading and other close work• Loss of place while reading or copying• Trouble finishing assignments in the allotted time• Omitting or misreading words or letters• Slow, inaccurate copying• Distractible, loses attention quickly• Blurred, double or unstable vision• Headaches, eye strain or visual fatigue associated with reading or other close work

How many people are affected by learning related vision disorders?

Approximately 25% to 40% of the general population is affected by some degree of learning related vision disorder. This percentage increases dramatically in learning disabled and remedial reading populations, where as many as 90% of the people have a significant visual disorder component to their learning problems.

What if eyesight is 20/20 and the eyes are healthy. Do I need to worry?

Possibly. Being able to read the letters on a chart at 20 feet does not guarantee efficient learning related vision skills. In fact, the people most handicapped by vision or sensorimotor deficits often have 20/20 distance eyesight and healthy eyes. The problems with eye alignment, focusing and visual endurance, which are likely to affect schoolwork, are easily missed in school screenings or a conventional eye exam.

How can I find a qualified doctor to examine and treat this problem?

Doctors who offer special services in the areas of learning related vision disorders and vision therapy usually have advanced post-doctoral certification.

What other problems can be helped with Vision Therapy?

Turned or crossed eyes (strabismus) can be effectively treated with vision therapy. In fact, vision therapy is often the only alternative to surgical intervention. Lazy eye (amblyopia) can also be successfully treated with vision therapy at any age. Visual consequences of traumatic brain injury can also be effectively treated using vision therapy.

Is there more than one type of vision therapy?

Yes! Not all vision therapy is the same! Differences in the approach to vision therapy are as diverse as the doctors who provide it. Make sure that you understand what you should expect from the program and how it will be achieved. Check your doctor’s qualifications. Involvement in the COVD and years of clinical experience in the field of vision therapy are excellent indicators of the quality of a vision therapy program.

Are computers used in Vision Therapy?

Yes! The computer has been a major advancement in the administration of vision therapy. The computer’s unique properties have allowed us to add a number of interesting variations to the process of building visual skills. We use state of the art technology and software to sharpen visual recognition, memory skills, mental analysis, manipulation abilities and to develop efficient eye-hand coordination.

Can vision problem affect self-esteem?

Yes! People with vision problems often have a history of underachievement and frustration. They often conclude that the reason for their low achievement is that they are not as “smart” as other people. Low self-esteem and lack of confidence are often the result of this conclusion. Correcting the vision problems that interfere with normal performance can have dramatic effects on both performance and self-esteem.

How long do the results of vision therapy last?

Most healthy vision therapy patients enjoy long-term resolution of their visual problems. Using the newly acquired visual abilities in the activities of daily life allows these skills to become self-reinforcing. Efficient vision becomes a habit, as hard to break as any other habit. Patients with strabismus, amblyopia, or traumatic brain injury may need to perform a minimum level of maintenance therapy to sustain the high levels of visual performance attained during in-office therapy.