Common Questions and Answers
What is vision therapy?
Vision therapy is like physical therapy for the eyes. It is an individualized treatment program prescribed to prevent or improve the development of certain vision problems, such as crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia), or to help a person learn or enhance specific vision performance skills. Such skills include eye movement control, eye focusing, eye coordination, visual information processing and teamwork between the two eyes.
Who is it for? What conditions? What does it treat?
Children and adults who have visual problems that interfere with reading, learning, understanding and attention can benefit from vision therapy. Neuro-visual deficits can cause eyestrain, headaches, blurred or double vision, reading problems and attention deficit difficulties. Even intelligent, highly motivated people can be severely handicapped by these problems in the academic or work environment. The treatment is for eye musculature and integration of the eyes with the brain. Some conditions that are treated with vision therapy are amblyopia, strabismus and convergence insufficiency.
What age group?
Vision therapy is also known as developmental optometry. Generally, vision therapy is most helpful for school age children, but it can also be beneficial for adults as well.
How do you know if you need vision therapy?
Some common signs of vision related learning problems or general problems that vision therapy can help with are:
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
Easily distracted or quick loss of attention
Blurred, double or unstable vision
Headaches, eye strain or visual fatigue associated with reading or other close work
Trauma induced visual disturbances
It is best to get an assessment to know how vision therapy can help you. Most of these problems can be significantly reduced if adding vision therapy after already using prescription glasses or contacts.
How much does it cost?
An initial consultation is $200. After that the weekly appointments for training are $110 per session. An individual session can take around 50 minutes. Usually it takes about 20 to 30 sessions for most treatments. Periodic evaluations are included in the treatment sessions.
What does it look like?
Our office has a designated room for the vision therapy sessions. In this room are assorted tools or equipment that are used to demonstrate to the patient how to use and then the patient will spend a certain amount of time practicing on these various types of equipment or tools with supervision. The patient may be sitting or standing or another mode of motion during the practice. Similar to most therapies there are at home exercises to do in between the onsite sessions.
What happens in an appointment?
At the initial appointment for an assessment there are tests on the visual system including eye tracking, stereopsis (depth perception), suppression, convergence, accommodation and a cycloplegic refraction. You should plan on about 90 minutes for this appointment. After that there is a treatment plan that usually takes a minimum of 20 sessions. About every 10 weeks there is an evaluation of the progress made with the treatments. Each treatment session is monitored and recorded as to what tools or methods are used.
How long is a session?
Most weekly sessions will take at least 40 minutes to about 50 minutes.
How many sessions/how long does it take?
The amount of sessions required to treat a visual deficiency can depend on the severity or condition that a patient is getting treated for. Strabismus and amblyopia will take longer to treat than a mild convergence insufficiency. Sometimes it can take many months or up to a year. The progress can vary but as long as there is measurable gains then continued treatment is significant.
What outcomes can I expect from vision therapy?
The desired outcome from a treatment plan of vision therapy is that you will have relief of the undesired symptoms that you previously experienced and you will have improved vision. This includes better biofeedback of your oculomotor system. In the beginning just like exercising any muscles in the body you may experience soreness or tiredness but as you strengthen or improve your abilities to align and focus your eyes they become better at what they are supposed to do.