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5 Interesting Facts About Vision Therapy

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Vision therapy has been shown to be an effective form of treatment for those with strabismus, amblyopia, eye movement disorders, binocular vision deficits, focusing disorders, and even vision problems from a traumatic brain injury. If you're considering vision therapy for you or your child, but you're still on the fence about it all, here are five interesting facts about this treatment that will make you see it in a whole new light.

Can Assist In The Treatment Of Learning Disabilities

There are many children who struggle with learning on a daily basis due to vision problems. As a matter of fact, it's been estimated that about 20% of all school-aged kids may be afflicted by a learning problem caused by vision deficits. Vision problems can make reading difficult, cause eye strain and headaches, and make sitting in the classroom and learning a painful struggle in which they become frustrated and want to give up.

While vision therapy isn't recommended as a sole treatment for a learning disability, if your child is suffering from visual perception problems, then incorporating this form of therapy with their overall treatment plan can help tremendously.

Can Help Correct What Glasses Can't

Glasses work wonderfully for correcting certain vision problems. And if your eye doctor has prescribed them, you certainly should be wearing them. But there are certain things vision therapy can accomplish that glasses simply cannot. Your therapy will include the use of special instruments and tools that help your brain control your eye's alignment, improve your ability to focus and track, and assist with visual processing. Many professionals use filters, prisms, and highly specialized optical and computerized devices to help you achieve your goal.

Can Sometimes Be Used In Place Of Surgery

95% of the time, strabismus is due to a problem with the brain, not the muscles that control the eyes. What this means is that the brain, for whatever reason, is neglecting to control the muscles that surround the eye. This can usually be determined by covering the good eye and noting if the turned eye is able to move in all directions.

Fortunately, vision therapy can be used in place of surgery when the eye is turned only part of the time, and success rates are about 80%. Additionally, if surgery was done in the past but didn't fully correct the strabismus, and the patient is still experiencing an eye turn, vision therapy can be considered as a viable alternative to a second surgery.

Can Be Custom Tailored To Your Condition

Vision therapy isn't a "one size fits all" cure. Your therapist will come up with a treatment plan that targets your specific issues.

Orthoptic vision therapy involves a series of exercises that can be done in-clinic and at home to help improve binocular function, which involves both eyes working together. Other exercises can be taught to increase the comfort of visual performance, and behavioral vision therapy can improve the way patients process visual information. You might be involved in one-on-one therapy, or you could choose to attend a clinic that holds group treatment sessions.

Can Be Done At Any Age

There seems to be a widely held notion among many eye doctors that surgeries and treatments must be done by a certain age in order to get the desired results (2 years of age for strabismus, and 6 or 7 for amblyopia). While early intervention is always good, that doesn't mean that vision therapy is useless in adulthood. And in some cases, especially those in which the child is extremely young and unable to cooperate, it may be beneficial to wait. Adults are often more motivated to achieve the desired results. 

For example, Dr. Sue Barry, a renowned neuroscientist, was born with strabismus. She underwent surgery to correct the muscles, but it did little to help her vision. In fact, she was completely unable to perceive depth before the age of 47, when she finally underwent vision therapy to correct the problem.

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