Optometric Vision Therapy Frequently Asked Questions
Please click the box of the frequently asked question below that you would like to learn more about.
- Do all Eye Doctors offer Vision Therapy?
Although all Optometrists are trained in Vision Therapy principles during school, not all Optometrists offer Vision Therapy in their office. Optometry is an extensive medical profession that includes the following areas/disciplines: primary eye care, geriatric eye care, low vision, pediatric eye care, eye care for patients with acquired brain injury, vision therapy, contact lenses and ocular (eye) disease. Therefore, many Optometrists focus on one or two areas and do not offer all of these services in their office.
- Is Vision Therapy the same everywhere?
Neuro-Optometric Vision Therapy varies depending on the individual patient’s visual condition(s), the severity level of his or her eye problem(s), and the patient’s ability to participate in or complete training activities. Two patients may have the same diagnosis but may have completely different levels of severity, which can change the treatment plan. While general principles of Vision Therapy are the same overall, it is a dynamic therapy program that is tailored to each individual patient and can vary by location and treatment.
- Is Vision Therapy only for children? Are there situations where a patient is "too old," or it's too late to intervene?
Neuro-Optometric Vision Therapy is not just for children. Vision Therapy treatment is for patients of all ages. Vision Therapy works on the basis of the ability of the human brain to change, adapt and grow throughout an individual’s life. Since our eyes and our visual system make up 40% of the brain, that means through Vision Therapy we can make positive changes in our visual system at any age.
Vision Therapy is for people who have visual conditions such as an eye turn (strabismus), a lazy eye (amblyopia), visual teaming issues (convergence insufficiency), visual tracking issues (ocular motor dysfunction), visual focusing issues (accommodative dysfunctions), and vision-related learning problems (visual perceptual problems). Vision Therapy does not correct the need for glasses and/or contact lenses for those individuals who are genetically nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism; or for those individuals who are over 40 years of age and need glasses for reading.
- What should people keep in mind while researching Vision Therapy online?
Fortunately, we are able to access a wealth of information quickly and easily online. As with any online research, people must be mindful of the website itself, source, motivation, educational background and any undue bias. In regards to Vision Therapy specifically, unfortunately, there is misinformation online, even on some medical websites that are not current with the most up-to-date research on the effectiveness of Vision Therapy. We think it’s very important for people to do their research and create questions to ask a trained professional.
Below is a list of credible websites to learn more about vision and Vision Therapy:
- My child is struggling in school. Could this be a vision-related issue?
Yes! Today’s classrooms are more dynamic than ever which require higher visual demands. Take a look around at your child’s classroom- there are smart screens everywhere. We cannot assume that each child sees and processes information exactly the same way. If you have a concern about whether your child has a vision-related learning problem, a good starting place is to schedule a comprehensive eye examination with an optometrist who is comfortable examining children. Many children who have vision-related learning problems go undiagnosed and grow up to be adults who “never liked to read” or were told they were slow to learn. In reality, they were trying to compensate for vision issues that could be successfully treated with vision therapy.
- My child has always passed eye tests at school and at our family eye doctor. How can it be a vision-related issue?
Visual acuity is a measure of how well a person can read letters far away and up close. People who have 20/20 vision are thought to have “perfect” vision. But relying only on visual acuity is limiting because it only gives us information about the clarity of letters. It doesn’t tell us if a child uses both eyes together equally, has adequate eye focusing skills, depth perception or visual perception. Only a comprehensive eye examination can help determine if a child’s vision is adequate.
- My child's teacher(s) have suggested that my child might have an attention or behavior problem - how could that be related to a vision problem?
Since teachers spend a great deal of one on one time with our children, it is important to listen to their observations of the child and compare them to your own. If there is suspicion of an attention or behavior problem, we recommend starting with a comprehensive eye examination first to rule out any vision problems before medication is prescribed. Many vision-related learning symptoms sound similar to ADD/ADHD; having difficulty remembering what has been read, re-reading, using a finger to keep place while reading, skipping lines of text, reading slowly, losing concentration and avoidance of near work.
- I/My child does not have an eye turn, so doesn’t that mean the eyes are aligned?
In some cases, an eye turn (strabismus) is not evident just by looking at a person. Small misalignments in the eyes can create double vision and other visual symptoms. Also, it is important to understand that as our eyes move from far to near distance, the eyes have to maintain proper alignment throughout. In some cases, an eye turn is only noted intermittently (not constant) and only at a certain distance (reading).
- I/My child hates reading, but can see fine - how could this be a vision problem? What are the common symptoms of a vision-related learning problem?
Children and adults that have vision-related learning problems can have various symptoms. Avoidance is one that is often overlooked. If a child is having difficulty reading, or they have to exert great effort to do so, then a common reaction is just to avoid the task. It can make the child look like they don’t care or like the have attention (ADD/ADHD) problems when in fact, it’s blurry and/or double when they are reading. Children especially don’t have a reference point, so if they are experiencing visual problems, they often think it is normal. Other symptoms may include: headaches, blurred vision at near, distance or both, double vision, words moving on the page, having difficulty remembering what has been read, re-reading, using a finger to keep place, skipping lines of text, reading slowly, losing concentration, eyes that feel tired when reading, eyes that hurt or feel a pulling around the eyes, frequent eye rubbing, closing or covering an eye, confusing letters or words, reversing letters or words, moving head while reading and car/motion sickness. Each patient is different and may or may not experience some or all of these symptoms. Through Neuro-Optometric Vision Therapy, these symptoms can be greatly reduced or eliminated entirely.
- How do I know if my child has a binocular vision problem that affects their schoolwork?
In order to understand how a person is using their visual system, first, a comprehensive eye examination should be scheduled. There is a common misunderstanding that an eye exam is comprised of solely reading letters on a Snellen chart. During a comprehensive eye examination, we not only check visual acuity (20/20 vision) but eye focusing, eye teaming, depth perception, color vision and eye health. There are many people who have “perfect” 20/20 vision who also have deficits causing visual symptoms. It is important to remember that visual acuity is one of 16 different aspects of the visual system. In order for us to “see” well, all 16 systems have to work in harmony.
- Will glasses or contact lenses correct my/my child’s vision condition?
Glasses and contact lenses are mainly used in order to improve visual acuity. If the problem is more complex as with patients with poor eye alignment, eye teaming or eye focusing, then lenses may not provide complete alleviation of symptoms. We use lenses as much as we can to improve how the visual system functions and from there, further testing may be needed to see if in-office vision therapy will benefit the patient.
- Will surgery help to align my/my child’s turned eye?
Surgical intervention should be approached on a case by case basis only, and with caution. In cases of strabismus (eye turn), if the eyes are surgically operated on in order to correct eye alignment, the brain does not know that the eyes have been moved. The brain in all its complexities is what ultimately controls the brain, which is why Vision Therapy is so effective in these cases. We give the patient the tools in order to understand how they are using their eyes together, which provides the best long-term results.
- I/My child have recently sustained a head injury and experiencing symptoms from it. Can Vision Therapy help?
Absolutely. In cases of concussion and other various acquired brain injuries, Optometric Vision Therapy can help reduce visual symptoms that are common after the incident. Even if there is no visible damage to the brain on MRI, there can be long-lasting effects that can affect the patient’s daily life. Common symptoms of concussion/brain injury include blurred vision, double vision, difficulty adjusting focus from far to near/near to far, headaches, difficulty processing and recalling information and/or poor reading comprehension. No matter the cause of the head injury, Vision Therapy is very effective in treating those patients.
- How long until we see results? Do results last forever?
Each patient’s response to Vision Therapy is unique depending on their individual diagnosis. After testing is completed with Dr. Wilson, a treatment plan is discussed and put in place. Patients range from seeing results typically in the first 8-10 weeks after therapy has started. There are no limitations to the progress one can make during the course of therapy. Once a Neuro-Optometric Vision Therapy treatment program is complete, there is very little regression as the patient now understands how to use their visual system. It gives the patient the tools they need in order to use their visual system to the best of their ability.
- Is Vision Therapy covered by my insurance?
Typically, visual rehabilitation services are not covered by insurance. While our office does not file insurance for Vision Therapy, we will assist our patients during the process of requesting reimbursements from insurance companies.