Vision therapy is much like “physical therapy”, but rather than treating the muscles of the body, it works on the eyes and visual system. It is an invaluable tool that has changed not only our patients’ vision, but has improved many related areas of their lives as well.
The first step of a vision therapy program is a thorough examination with Dr. Cantwell to determine if vision therapy is the best course of care. Having had extensive experience treating patients of all ages, he easily makes his younger patients comfortable during this exam.
Next, he’ll prescribe an individualized program of vision therapy that trains your eyes to work together, track, perceive and focus properly. Strengthening these basic visual skills can really change the way you see, allowing you to enjoy activities, such as reading, that may have been difficult before.
Research has shown that vision therapy can be instrumental in helping increase visual attention spans for children learning to read. Often, children who had been falling behind in reading are able to improve their performance greatly by reducing the effects of their vision problems. Vision therapy truly allows kids to enjoy learning and become more confident, happier people.
What Equipment Does a Vision Therapist Use?
Just as a physical therapist might use treadmills or weights, a vision therapist relies on prisms, eye patches, filtered lenses, and computerized systems to conduct therapy sessions. In our office, we use many interactive computer programs that our younger patients enjoy and that result in long-lasting success.
Not only do the computer programs offer a proven, more effective method of delivering therapy, but the “fun” nature of the programs keeps children motivated to work, and thus, we find that results come quicker and stronger for our patients.
How Long is a Vision Therapy Program?
The number of office visits required depends on the diagnosis and the age of the patient. Vision therapy programs typically involve one to two in-office sessions throughout the week, for a varying number of months depending on need. We sometimes prescribe home exercises to reinforce office therapy.
What Vision Therapy Is Not
There are a number of programs of “eye exercises” and techniques for improving vision that are not associated with vision therapy, such as colored lenses or other programs advertised to quickly improve eyesight.
Likewise, education therapy and vision therapy are not to be confused. We do not treat learning problems directly. We treat them only to the extent that an underlying vision problem is the cause of the learning issue. Once this sort of vision problem is treated, we may refer a patient to a tutor to help them with learning techniques.
Vision therapy is carefully monitored by a licensed optometrist, and is supported by the American Optometric Association as a clinical treatment for certain visual deficits. Dr. Cantwell is board certified In vision development and vision therapy by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. For more information visit www.covd.org.