How Can We Help?
Vision Therapy is the term used to describe a wide range of techniques used to improve visual skills and enhance vision. These techniques include those traditionally known as Orthoptics, but go way beyond just ‘exercising’ eye muscles.
We understand the visual system as part of the overall sensory mechanism of the body – and the dominant means of acquiring information from the world around us. We also find that vision is, in part, a learned skill – childhood is all about learning to use the many skills we are born with. As such, if we learn how to see, then it is possible to train such skills, and vision therapy does just that.
We design a treatment programme which develops those abilities that either were not present or were poorly developed in the overall profile of visual abilities.
Vision Therapy is a step-by-step, development-based series of activities and procedures that the patient practices over time to facilitate the development of a more efficient and comprehensive visual process. There are literally hundreds of different procedures, games and activities to choose from and/or adapt, for each and every weakness that we are targeting.
Vision Therapy programmes work on several different skill areas, notably:
Gross Motor skills
Fine Motor skills
Eye Movement skills
The skill of the optometrist is in getting that selection exactly right all the way through the programme. By concentrating on these skills the patient can learn to use the skills in an automated manner, without having to put disproportionate thought or effort into seeing.
The effects of Vision Therapy can be seen in easier, more productive study and reading, better co-ordination skills and greater confidence in the world in general. It is usual to see symptoms such as eyestrain and headaches disappear with training, and to see better placekeeping on the page and fluency in reading. Performance in sport is also usually improved – indeed; vision therapy is widely used in high level sports training programmes.
Vision Therapy may be prescribed for use at home only, or as a combination of at-home and in-practice training. The latter has many advantages, as activities can be monitored by a therapist and modified immediately a change is noted. Children, in particular, often respond better to working with someone from outside the family rather than to a family member and the discipline of going out to a therapy session often helps encourage them to continue with home therapy.
Vision Therapy sessions are designed to be fun and in a session activities may include such diverse tasks as balancing on wobble boards, drawing with electronic pens to improve fine motor skills, practising focus skills with special glasses, or working with 3D glasses and pictures. Home activities are normally kept very simple and any equipment that may be required is normally supplied, or is easily available. Some home therapy may be available for use on personal computers, guaranteed to keep a child’s interest!
Vision Therapy typically takes 1-6 months to complete, with weekly or fortnightly sessions of 30-60 minutes with the optometrist or vision therapist. This is almost always combined with home vision training by the patient.
But many other options exist; from intensive crash courses over 3-4 days to very gently paced courses over 1-2 years! It all depends on what best suits your individual requirements and circumstances, and the options will be fully discussed.