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What Is Vision Therapy?

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An optometrist at Aurora Eye Care in Grande Prairie assists a young female patient during a vision therapy exercise

What Is Vision Therapy?

All About Vision Therapy

Visual skills determine the effectiveness of our sight, how we interact with visual cues, and how our brain cooperates with visual signals. From reading a book to catching a ball, we use a combination of visual skills to engage with our mind, body, and environment.

Vision therapy uses treatments and techniques to train our visual skills, correcting vision difficulties or enhancing visual performance. Whether vision impacts your learning ability, sports aptitude, or everyday tasks, vision therapy can help boost your confidence in your sight.

How Does Vision Therapy Work?

Vision therapy is similar to physical therapy. Just as you can train, stretch, and exercise your body, you can also use therapy to improve your visual skills. There are various structures, tissues, and nerves that make vision work. While many essential parts are located in the eye, there are also neural pathways in the brain.  

The occipital lobe receives signals from the optic nerve (located in the eye) and turns signals into images. There are 2 occipital lobes because our eyes work in pairs. Each lobe interprets signals sent from one of the 2 retinas. 

With the information gathered with our eyes, the occipital lobe interprets multiple aspects of vision, including:

  • Distance
  • Depth perception
  • Colour determination
  • Object recognition
  • Movement 
  • Face recognition
  • Memory information

When something affects the signals sent from our eyes or how we process those signals, it can impact our vision and perception. Vision therapy methods use eye exercises, technology, and optometric tools to improve how we send and receive the signals that inform our vision.

Vision Therapy for Developmental Problems

Up to 80% of classroom learning is visual. As a result, visual abilities are necessary for success in learning. When a child exhibits poor academic skills, it can sometimes be caused by visual or cognitive difficulties. Instead of spotting the vision problems, some children may be incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD or dyslexia.

As learning is life-long, there’s no time limit for improving visual skills. Children and adults with vision problems can benefit from vision therapy. Some common developmental vision issues treated by developmental optometrists include: 

Vision Therapy After Trauma

Brain injuries, such as concussions or strokes, can affect your visual abilities. Neuro-optometric rehabilitation uses vision therapy techniques to help treat brain-related vision problems, including problems caused by a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or neurological issue.

Some common visual symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Light sensitivity
  • Reading problems
  • Eye movement issues
  • Double vision
  • Vision loss

Neuro-optometric rehabilitation aims to retrain neural pathways to strengthen visual skills. The methods can help improve multiple vision conditions, including:

Vision Therapy for Sports Enhancement

Like practices before a big game, vision therapy can help train your vision to enhance athletic performance. Visual skills, such as hand-eye coordination or depth perception, can affect your ability to aim, pass, shoot, or stay one step ahead of other players.

Sports vision can help athletes of any age, from children overcoming klutzy tendencies to professionals looking for every advantage. Vision therapy can improve sports-related visual skills, such as:

  • Spatial awareness
  • Concentration & focus
  • Visual memory
  • Depth perception
An optometrist at Aurora Eye Care in Grande Prairie assists a young male patient with a syntonics machine during a vision therapy session.

Methods of Vision Therapy

At Aurora Eye Care, we’re trained in multiple methods to meet our patients’ needs, including virtual reality technology, syntonics, specialty lenses, prisms, patching, and more.

Vivid Vision Computer Technology

VR (virtual reality) programs can be fun and imaginative, but VR can also be used for training your vision. For example, Vivid Vision is a computer-based VR program used to help treat multiple eye conditions, including lazy eye, crossed eyes, and convergence disorders.

During treatment, patients wear a VR headset. First, each VR lens shows different images—one for the stronger eye and one for the weaker. Then, the signal strength slowly changes over time until the images match. The progression trains your eyes to work together.

VR and other vision therapy computer programs (including video games) can benefit kids and adults.

Syntonics

Syntonics is a type of phototherapy where the patients wear coloured lenses while looking at a flashing light. The lights can help retrain your vision by sending signals to the brain’s regulatory centres.

Syntonics can be used to help treat lazy eye, crossed eyes, and convergence disorders.

Specialty Lenses

Prescription and specialty lenses can help compensate for vision deficiencies or damage to allow a more comfortable visual experience. Specialty lenses can correct multiple vision problems, such as farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, keratoconus, etc. Specialty lenses are typically considered when traditional lenses aren’t a good fit.

Prisms

Prism lenses, or yoked prisms, can enhance how light enters the eye, improving visual comfort. The treatment is typically used for binocular vision problems or double vision. Using a prism lens also alters the timing of light entering the eye, which can positively affect balance and coordination problems.

Patching

Patching involves covering one eye or part of the visual field. Everyone has a dominant eye, much like a dominant hand. In vision therapy, the patch is placed on the lens of the dominant (stronger) eye. Then, the weaker eye learns to work harder, strengthening eye muscles in the weaker eye.

Balance Boards

Balance boards, or wobble boards, are used in physiotherapy to improve balance, posture, and coordination. The board, often circular, features an uneven bottom. Patients stand on the board and attempt to balance. Vision therapy uses the same tool but considers the visual coordination necessary to maintain balance.

Talk to Our Vision Team

If your vision isn’t meeting your needs, our eye care team can help. After a comprehensive eye exam, we develop a custom vision therapy plan to accommodate your vision goals. Your visual system is more than what you can see; it’s a crucial part of your life experience. Book an appointment with a Grande Prairie optometrist at Aurora Eye Care to learn how vision therapy can help.

Written by Luis Marquez

More Articles By Luis Marquez
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