What is Optometric Vision Therapy?
As defined in a Joint Organizational Policy Statement of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Optometric Association, vision therapy is a sequence of activities individually prescribed and monitored by the doctor to develop efficient visual skills and processing.
Some vision conditions cannot be treated adequately with glasses, contact lenses, and/or patching alone. Such conditions are best resolved through a program of optometric vision therapy.
Optometric vision therapy is much like “physical therapy,” but rather than treating the muscles of the body, it works on the eye-brain connections of the visual system. Optometric vision therapy is more than just eye exercises – it is a valuable tool that transforms lives.
Please visit the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) website for more information.
What optometric vision therapy is NOT!
Optometric vision therapy and orthoptics are not the same. Although optometric vision therapy includes orthoptics, optometric vision therapy is more advanced due to its considerations of the neurological system. To read more about the differences, click here.
Education therapy and vision therapy are not to be confused. We do not treat learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia) directly. We treat vision problems that interfere with reading and learning. Some patients may have vision problems that mimic learning disabilities and may be misdiagnosed. Other patients may have co-existing vision problems and learning disabilities. Once this sort of vision problem is treated and their visual system is more proficient at receiving and interpreting visual information, we may refer a patient to a tutor or learning specialist to manage the learning disability.
The goal of optometric vision therapy is not to eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses. Optometric vision therapy is not designed to improve eye sight without the need for glasses, like the Bates Method of the early 1900’s.
Optometric vision therapy is not a self-help kit or a home-based computer program. Optometric vision therapy is prescribed by a licensed Doctor of Optometry and supervised by a vision therapist. It involves medically regulated equipment, such as lenses and prisms. It is supported by the American Optometric Association as a clinical treatment for certain visual deficits.
Is there evidence that Optometric Vision Therapy works?
In a word, YES! For your convenience, COVD has compiled over 400 published journal abstracts into one location, in addition to other updates on research. All of the information can be found here.
Optometric Vision Therapy Equipment
Lenses, prisms, filters, eye patches, specialized instruments, and computer programs are an integral part of optometric vision therapy under the direction of a Doctor of Optometry. Activities may be designed to integrate balance, movement, auditory processing, and cognition to help the visual system guide the actions of the body.
The Length of Treatment Varies
Our therapy programs are based upon the results of standardized tests and are individually tailored to the patient’s age, personal goals, and their area of treatment. Typically, therapy programs involve weekly in-office visits for a varying number of months dependent upon the needs of the patient.
Adults can benefit, too!
Optometric vision therapy can benefit patients of all ages. Supported by the principles of neuroplasticity, brains of any age can improve function of visual abilities. Optometric vision therapy is often highly effective for adults because they are usually extremely motivated to improve their visual abilities.