When we think of good vision, we typically imagine 20/20. While it is good to have 20/20 vision, there are several skills that also indicate good vision such as depth perception, peripheral vision awareness, hand to eye coordination, reaction time, and more.
Often people will overlap vision with eyesight but there is a difference between the two.
Eyesight is the physical process of detecting patterns of light and contrast with your eyes. It is the ability to see objects at given distances.
Vision is more than just the ability to see clearly, it encompasses the entire visual system. Vision is the brain gathering, understanding, and using the information that is being seen through your eyes and allowing your body to react accordingly.
Sometimes despite having good eye health, we may find our vision changing and that help is needed. Vision therapy is a way to improve vision in both adults and children. We hope to help you learn more about vision therapy so that you can make an informed decision regarding its’ potential.
What is vision therapy?
Vision therapy is a doctor-supervised, non-surgical and customized program consisting of visual activities designed to correct vision problems and/or improve visual skills.
Eyeglasses and contact lenses compensate for vision problems, but it is common for prescriptions to become greater or stronger with each year. Vision therapy aims to teach the visual system to correct itself as it trains your eyes, brain, and body. It is similar to physical therapy focusing on the patient’s visual system.
The goal of vision therapy is to optimize the entire visual system improving vision control, perception, and other vision-related functions. By retraining the brain to use the eyes to receive information, comprehend it, and then react effectively, vision therapy tends to produce long-lasting results.
Vision therapy is also sometimes called visual therapy, vision training, visual training, or simply VT.
I’ve had an eye exam before, why was this never mentioned?
Routine eye exams are often focused on overall eye health and eyesight but do not test all aspects of visual performance. General eye exams help to rule out nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism.
If the basic eye exam suggests no corrective eyewear is needed, often the exam will end there even if a vision problem may still exist.
A more comprehensive exam conducted by an optometrist who specializes in vision therapy may be required.
How does vision therapy work?
Eye exams in vision therapy will be longer and include several tests in eye teaming, depth perception, focusing, tracking, visual motor skills and more. At the end of the tests, the optometrist will give a detailed assessment of the patient’s vision and visual skills and provide a recommended course of therapy tailored to the specific needs and goals of the patient.
As mentioned before, vision therapy is an individualized treatment program prescribed and monitored by an optometrist and other doctors to treat problems the patient may have with visual skills and processing. Therapy sessions include exercises to enhance the brain’s ability to control eye movements, focusing, alignment, tracking, processing, motor skills, and more. The treatment will include a wide array of tools to help build your vision such as lenses, filters, computer simulations, balance boards, and more.
Who can benefit from vision therapy?
Success in vision therapy can be achieved at any age, though it may take more time and effort. Children are in critical years of development and as such, results can be achieved more quickly and in greater degrees. However, adults can experience relief and benefit through therapy with perseverance and motivation.
In the 21st century, there are high demands for eyes. Many adults and children constantly use their near vision at work, school, and home. Environmental stresses can also induce blurred vision, eye strain, headaches and more all from stress-related visual problems.
Vision therapy is beneficial for anyone who wishes to improve their visual skills and visual processing abilities.
Visual impairments and vision therapy
Vision therapy can also help with those who have vision-related issues due to neurological disorders, developmental disabilities, or trauma to the nervous system. It is a common treatment in forms of rehabilitation.
Those who suffer from binocular vision problems, eye movement disorders, and focusing issues, as well as conditions such as Amblyopia (lazy eye) and Strabismus (crossed eyed), have high success in being treated with vision therapy.
Learning-related problems and vision therapy
Vision and learning are intimately connected. Someone may have a learning problem caused by an underlying vision problem. Children with vision problems may be misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities, ADHD, and/or Dyslexia. The same behaviors can be found under different diagnoses.
Vision deficits can cause eye strain, struggles with close work, headaches, blurred or double vision, and difficulty maintaining attention.
Parents who observe their child struggling may benefit from having their child’s vision evaluated by an optometrist who specializes in vision therapy. Correcting vision deficits with the use of vision therapy can help improve the patient’s overall learning ability.
Sports and Vision Therapy
Speed, strength, and endurance are necessary for successful athletes, but visual processes and reaction speed are what can separate high-performance athletes from the rest. These athletes can make split-second game-changing decisions that can lead their team to victory.
Vision is often overlooked when it comes to sports because people aren’t aware of just how much your performance can be improved by training your eyes as visual skills are critical to success in sports.
Because vision training programs are designed to enhance visual skills rather than correct vision problems, the term “vision training” is preferred over “vision therapy” when it comes to sports development.
Many professional athletes undergo sports vision training but can apply to any level of play and all ages.
An optometrist who specializes in sports vision can often customize vision training programs for athletes interested in optimizing their visual skills for specific sports. This can improve an athlete’s hand to eye coordination, reaction time, peripheral vision, eye tracking, and many other crucial skills for athletes on the field.
Vision therapy can be a great treatment for those suffering from vision problems. However, it is important to note that it is not a magical improvement plan that promises you will never need corrective eyewear after treatment.
If you decide to try vision therapy, be sure to get information about the duration of the therapy and the success rates for the specific type being recommended. Also, ask what criteria is used to define success in those treatments. Request details about the cost of the program and whether your insurance will cover it. In many cases, vision therapy is not covered by insurance programs.
For more information on vision therapy, please contact Acworth Family Eyecare today.