What you should know about Vision Therapy

For people with certain eye conditions, vision therapy is a safe and effective treatment that can help improve vision. Our Optometrist, Dr. Kana shares how and what you should know about vision therapy.

There are individuals who live with crossed eyes, also known as strabismus. With this condition and having poor vision can affect the visual performance of one’s quality of life. It can affect daily tasks, school, work performance and the ability to play sports or do activities.

For people with certain eye conditions, optometrists may recommend vision therapy to help improve their vision. To learn more about vision therapy and the different conditions it can treat, our optometrist Dr. Kujaany Kana can share some insight.

What is vision therapy? 

“Vision therapy is a doctor-supervised prescribed program of activities that are individualized to help with certain visual disorders, visual demands and visual skills,” says Dr. Kana. She says visual skills include:

  • Eye-teaming: Also known as binocular vision, this is a visual skill that allows both eyes to work together.
  • Eye-focusing: This is the ability of our eyes to effectively refocus when we look from one distance to another.
  • Eye-movement: This is the ability of our eyes to scan our environment.

How does vision therapy work? 

Vision therapy works through neuromuscular re-education. This means retraining how the eyes and brain work together as a team. During therapy, eye doctors may use lenses, prisms and other equipment. Some activities used during visual therapy improve visual processing while others improve the efficiency.

There are a number of activities eye doctors use during visual therapy. Dr. Kana shared these examples:

  1. Red/green glasses: These glasses have one red lens and one green lens. This aids with visual processing as each eye sends different visual information for the brain to integrate.
  2. Brock String: This string has three to four medium-sized coloured beads spaced approximately 40 cm apart. The doctor will tie one end to a doorknob while the patient holds the other end up to their nose. The goal is to obtain accurate binocular (both eyes) alignment when focusing on any one bead.
  3. Marsden Ball: This is a soft ball with printed letters printed on the surface. During therapy, the doctor will swing the ball in different directions. This aims at improving coordinated eye-movement.

Dr. Kana explains once a skill is retrained, efficiency is improved using various lenses and prisms.

What conditions can you treat with vision therapy? 

Vision therapy can treat the following eye conditions:

  • Post-traumatic vision syndrome: This refers to the vision-related symptoms (e.g. blurred vision, dizziness, memory difficulties, loss of balance) that appear after a brain injury or concussion.
  • Amblyopia: Refers to reduced vision that may occur in one or both eyes.
  • Strabismus: This is when the eye turns in or out.
  • Oculomotor dysfunction: This condition causes people to reverse “p” with “q” or “d” with “b”. They may also skip lines when reading or see moving letters.
  • Vergence and accommodative dysfunction: People with this condition have difficulty focusing between two different distances. For example, reading a wall chart and then reading a book.

Is there an age-limit to vision therapy? 

Both children and adults can benefit from vision therapy. Consult with your eye doctor or visit us to determine if you’re a good candidate.

What are the benefits of vision therapy? 

When vision is improved, Dr. Kana says some of the benefits are:

  • Improved quality of life
  • Visual comfort after a traumatic brain injury
  • Improved academic performance
  • Improved sports performance
  • Improvement of vision in the amblyopic eye
  • Improved eye alignment
  • Development of depth perception

“Vision therapy goes beyond just seeing the 20/20 (optimal sight) line. Vision therapy aims to provide comfortable vision that will adapt to your everyday visual needs,” says Dr. Kana.

Written in consultation with Dr. Kujaany Kana, optometrist and Kristen Mayne.
Reference: https://luminohealth.sunlife.ca/s/article/What-is-vision-therapy?language=en_US