First of all, vision therapy is not something that you see a lot of Optometrists doing these days. When Optometrists are in school it's one of those things that doesn't sound as fun as treating pink eye, glaucoma, or removing a piece of metal from someone's eye. So a lot of students tend to do what they need to do to pass the tests and get through all of the vision therapy classes but they would really rather do some of the regular stuff that Optometrists do. I felt that way for a while after I graduated until I realized how many people actually needed vision therapy and how much of a difference you can make in someones life by recommending vision therapy.
I'll start by explaining who could benefit from vision therapy and then I'll explain exactly what it is.
If you or your child has trouble reading, keeping place on a page, gets headaches after reading for a long time, or has a short attention span when it comes to anything done up close like reading you should first determine if you need glasses. If you don't need glasses there is a pretty good chance that you would benefit from vision therapy. Most of the time when you go to your regular Optometrists with these complaints they will prescribe some sort of reading glasses for you that may or may not work. Up until I decided to pursue vision therapy in my practice I was guilty of doing this just as much as any of my other colleagues so I am not placing blame here. The reason this method usually doesn't work is because most people with these symptoms typically have some sort of problem controlling the muscles in their eyes when they are looking at things up close. They may have trouble tracking from word to word because their muscles over or under shoot the next word or they may have trouble converging their eyes which makes it hard to find their place on the page. These sort of problems are not usually found in a routine eye exam, they take extra testing, and a lot of these issues can't be fixed with regular glasses.
So if your regular doctor doesn't perform vision therapy at his or her office they are left with the choice of prescribing some glasses to try to mask the problem or referring you to a clinic that does vision therapy. Up until I started a vision therapy practice in my office here in Collierville there haven't been a lot of options for vision therapy that are less than a 30-45 minute drive from here. So my hope is to be able to offer the doctors and patients in this area an option to help with these problems that can have a large impact on every day life.
With all of that said, I will explain what vision therapy actually is. Vision therapy is a series of eye exercises and activities prescribed by me or another Optometrist with the goal of eliminating most of the eye related symptoms that are causing you or your child difficulty performing how you want to in every day life, in school, at work, or even in sports. Some cases are fairly simple and can be corrected in as little as 6 office visits, while some take longer. Most of the time we will prescribe exercises and activities to do at home as well. Most vision therapy sessions are once a week and typically last 45-60 minutes.
There are many other conditions that can be treated with vision therapy other than the ones I discussed above. Just a small sample of these include lazy or crossed eyes, double vision, we can even help patients who have had a concussion or traumatic brain injury, and lastly we can help patients perform better at sports by improving eye-hand coordination. Look for posts in the future on some of these subjects.
If you have any questions about any of this or you feel you or a family member need help with any of these conditions call us or email us and we will be glad to answer any questions you have.
I have attached a link to a quality of life survey that will help you determine if you or a family member needs to be evaluated for vision therapy. www.covd.org/?page=QOLStart
Thanks for reading.
Brandon Walley O.D.