Can Vision Therapy Help Me?
By Abbigail Willingham, Office Visionary + Posey, Branch Manager
Vision therapy is not a magic fix, but for certain people, it can dramatically improve their quality of life. So who is vision therapy for and how do you know if you need it?
Put simply, Vision Therapy is for people who are experiencing a functional vision problem. It helps treat a variety of diagnoses through regular sessions that train your eyes to work together with your brain. Vision therapy is very individualized, as each program and session is tailored to the individual. But how do you know if you’re experiencing this kind of vision problem, especially if, like so many of our patients, you’ve already been told by someone else that your eyes are “fine”?
📚 Vision problems that interfere with reading and learning:
Binocular vision problems
Diagnoses: convergence insufficiency, convergence excess, exophoria, esophoria, etc.
How this may look: Tired or sore eyes, children may say they are tired after a long day of near work. Blurry vision or double vision, children may not like reading because it is physically intensive. Headaches. Trouble concentrating, children with ADHD are 3x more likely to have convergence insufficiency. May also avoid homework or other near work.
How does vision therapy help? Vision therapy teaches the eyes to work together. It changes how the brain coordinates the eyes to make binocular vision more efficient and effortless.
Diagnosis: oculomotor dysfunction
How this may look: Reluctance or avoiding reading. Poor reading comprehension, a child may read, but then have no idea what it was about when questioned. Frequently rereads the same word, may use their fingers to track where they are when reading. Skips over words or entire lines of text, often reads small words backwards (“was” for “saw”, or confuses b’s and d’s).
How does vision therapy help? Improves fixation and saccadic movements. Integrates oculomotor skills with vergence accommodative systems, and with information processing. Enhances visual information processing and spatial awareness to better guide ocular movements.
Eye focusing problems
Diagnoses: accommodative insufficiency, accommodative excess, accommodative infacility
How this may look: Headaches, eyestrain, up close vision that is blurry or goes in and out of focus, reluctance to read or avoiding reading, visual fatigue, sleepiness, poor reading comprehension.
How does vision therapy help? Builds accuracy, flexibility, and sustainability of accommodation. Teaches the eyes how to focus properly in coordination with eye teaming.
🧩 Problems with visual processing (poor spatial awareness, visual memory, among other skills):
Diagnoses: visual information processing disorder, visuospatial deficit, visual sensory integration disorder
How this may look: Confuse similar looking words or reverse letters or numbers, some may misinterpret this as dyslexia. Poor speller and struggles with reading comprehension. May easily forget letters, numbers, or words. Crooked or sloppy handwriting. Struggles with following instruction or understanding the concept of time.
How does vision therapy help? Improves working memory, visual processing speed, visuospatial skills, and visual-sensory and visual-motor integration.
👀 Lazy eye or crossed eyes:
Diagnoses: amblyopia, strabismus
How this may look: An eye that turns in or out, or one eye not seeing 20/20 though it is otherwise healthy. These are some of the easiest conditions to diagnose early. Depending on the severity, sometimes surgery is an option. Surgery alone may not fix the problem because it may straighten the eyes, but it cannot teach the brain to use the two eyes together. Your eyes may go back to turning after surgery.
How does vision therapy help? It teaches your eyes to work together with your brain. Instead of fighting against each other, they are a team that allows you to see well.
Diagnoses: Traumatic brain injury (TBI), acquired brain injury (ABI), mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), concussion, stroke, cerebrovascular accident
How this may look: TBI patients can suffer from a range of visual complaints which negatively impacts their ability to move, balance, and interact with the world around them. May also include double or blurry vision, inability to maintain visual attention, loss of vision, or headaches.
How does vision therapy help? Vision rehabilitation targets the underlying cause of the symptoms and helps improve quality of life.
The following questions ask about a few of the symptoms related to a vision problem to see if vision is at the root of your symptoms. Many of us take our vision for granted until something goes wrong with it, or a child may not know that there is anything abnormal about their sight. If you are concerned about a child, please ask them directly. Many children don’t know how to vocalize their symptoms without help.
- Do your eyes feel tired or uncomfortable when reading or doing close work?
- Do you have headaches when reading or doing close work?
- Do you feel sleepy when reading or doing close work?
- Do you lose concentration when reading or doing close work?
- Do you have trouble remembering what you have read?
- Do you have double vision when reading or doing close work?
- Do you see the words move, jump, swim, or appear to float when reading or doing close work?
- Do you feel like you read slowly?
- Do you notice the words blurring or coming in and out of focus when reading or doing close work?
- Do you lose your place while reading or doing close work?
These are general questions, but humans are complex individuals. If you answer yes or sometimes to several of these or if you feel like vision might be at the root of your problem, give Brighter Outlook Vision a call and we can listen to your symptoms and see if you might benefit from an evaluation.