What Is Vision Therapy (VT)?
We see with our brains, through our eyes.
Vision abilities are learned coordination and processing skills developed by the brain. These skills and processing are not just functions of the “eyes” but a process that links what we see with many other Neuro-behaviors and senses: movement, speaking, hearing, language, touching and feeling, etc. Normal development of the senses relies heavily on a normally developed visual system. Full Sensory Integration is an important aspect of any meaningful Vision Therapy Program.
Vision Therapy is not just “eye exercises”.
This is because developing effective visual skills is done largely by integrating what is seen with the other sensory systems of the body. Vision Therapy is retraining the brain to use the eyeballs properly to gather information, process that information and form a response based on these learned skills.
Vision Therapy is a professionally managed and administered treatment program that works on providing the student with the necessary visual coordination and perceptual skills for enhanced performance. This works through a series of programmed treatment procedures giving the student awareness and feedback plus sensory integration as visual development is improved and accelerated.
Through the guidance of the Doctor, the student develops proper Neuro-motor control of visual coordination skills and learns better visual processing skills, visual perception and visual integrative abilities in an accelerated process. When functional vision problems exist, intervention is often necessary. Vision Therapy is a treatment regimen that is a viable and effective approach to correcting such visual disturbances.
The Prescribed Vision Therapy Program and treatment duration wholly depends on the patient’s Comprehensive Binocular Vision Examination and Neuro-Processing Evaluation results and diagnoses. The Comprehensive Binocular Vision Examination is an hour-long examination of binocularity, functional vision, sensory awareness and visual behavior. Depending on the results, age of the patient and their major reason for the initial examination, some patients (mostly the academically challenged) are recommended to receive further Neuro-processing Evaluation. This consists of two hours of Neuro-processing testing by the Doctor which includes reading assessment, dyslexia screening, handwriting evaluation, retained primitive reflex testing, visual processing, visual memory, spatial and body awareness, and more. Then a separate one-hour, “parent only” Consultation is scheduled with the Doctor, usually within a week of the Neuro-processing Evaluation, to go over the testing and report results and discuss the treatment plan.
A typical treatment recommendation for Vision Related Learning Problems consists of a minimum of approximately 40 weekly, one-hour, In-Office Vision Therapy Sessions with the Doctor, which are amplified by homework activities intended for 15-20 minutes a day, five days per week. A typical Amblyopia/Strabismus Vision Therapy Program or Brain Injury Vision Therapy Program may take a year or longer of weekly In-Office Vision Therapy Sessions.
Those patients who are motivated and put forth good effort reap the most benefits in the shortest amount of time from their Vision Therapy Programs. Research shows that strict adherence to the homework regimen is a strong predictor of a positive outcome by assimilating the skills being taught with consistent practice and repetition throughout the week. Retraining the brain is going to take effort and hard work.
Vision Therapy will not be easy but it will definitely be worth it!
Angela L. Martin, OD
Academy of Vision Development, PLLC
6617 Crossings Dr. SE, Suite 102
Grand Rapids, MI 49508