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5 Myths About Vision Therapy

Image of a child with good eye hand coordination catching a ball.

Have preconceptions about vision therapy prevented you from taking advantage of the benefits of this important therapy? Once you take a closer look at five common myths, you may just change your mind.

You Don't Need Vision Therapy If You Have 20/20 Vision

The ability to clearly read an eye chart is just a small part of good vision. Your eyes, the muscles controlling them and your brain must work together to ensure that you can use your vision effectively. If your eyes don't function as a team, or you have poor visual memory, reading and concentrating can be difficult.

In some cases, issues that are assumed to be related to learning disabilities or behavioral problems in children are actually caused by visual processing difficulties. Children affected by visual processing disorders may find it difficult to recognize shapes and letters, have double vision, read slowly or find math difficult. No matter how hard these kids try, school work will never become easier if the connection between their eyes and brains is compromised. Vision therapy corrects the issues that cause the disorder, making school a much more pleasant experience for your child.

Since Anyone Can Do Eye Exercises, There's No Need for Vision Therapy

Although eye exercises may be part of your vision therapy plan, vision therapy is much more than an eye exercise program. Vision therapists, optometrists who participate in vision therapy residencies after finishing optometry school, are specially trained to diagnose and treat conditions like strabismus (crossed eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye) and correct issues that affect eye teaming, eye tracking, visual memory, hand/eye coordination, dynamic acuity, peripheral awareness and visual discrimination.

In addition to eye exercises, vision therapy involves prisms, filters, activities and computer games designed to improve and enhance the brain/eye connection. Activities are age appropriate and designed to be fun for children.

Vision Therapy Can't Help Athletic Performance

Vision plays an important role in your sports ability. It's impossible to catch a ball or throw it accurately when you have poor hand/eye coordination, visual memory problems or issues with peripheral awareness, tracking or visual discrimination.

Vision therapy is often used to treat convergence insufficiency, a problem that occurs when the eyes focus beyond an object instead of directly on it when performing close work or participating in sports. Convergence insufficiency not only affects athletic performance, but also causes reading and concentration problems, headaches, motion sickness and double vision. Children who received office-based vision therapy combined with home reinforcement in the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial noticed a significant improvement in their symptoms after 12 weeks of therapy.

Vision Therapy is Only for Children

Before vision therapy became a recognized way to address problems, many people just learned to live with their vision difficulties. Luckily, you're never too old to improve your vision with therapy. Vision therapy can also help relieve the symptoms of computer vision syndrome, a problem that's becoming increasingly more common.

Many of us spend hours at work focusing on a computer screen, then spend the evening texting or watching videos on a tablet. When you spend too much time focusing on digital screens, you may feel tired and irritable and experience blurry vision, eyestrain, dry eye, fatigue, headaches and aches and pains in your neck and shoulder muscles. You may be more likely to develop the syndrome if you all ready have vision issues such as eye teaming or visual discrimination problems. Vision therapy offers a simple solution that can help you avoid the unpleasant effects of computer vision syndrome.

Vision Therapy Isn't Helpful For Crossed Eyes

Surgery is often used to correct strabismus, but it isn't the only solution. Although the problem may seem to originate in the eye muscles, it often occurs because the brain doesn't coordinate the movements of the eye muscles properly. Vision therapy improves the brain's ability to control the muscles, eliminating common symptoms, such as clumsiness and depth perception issues.

Although surgery will make the eyes face the same direction, it doesn't improve vision problems that may have occurred due to the condition. Following surgery with vision therapy will help ensure that the eyes remain straight and that your child doesn't suffer permanent depth perception issues.

Could you or your family benefit from vision therapy? Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

JAMA Network: Archives of Opthalmology: Randomized Clinical Trial of Treatments for Symptomatic Convergence Insufficiency in Children, October 13, 2008

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/article-abstract/420820

College of Optometrists in Vision Development: About Vision Therapy

http://www.covd.org/page/vision_therapy

American Optometric Association: Computer Vision Syndrome

https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome?sso=y