Optometric vision therapy is devoted to developing, rehabilitating and/or enhancing visual performance. The most common problems include lazy eyes (amblyopia), turned eyes (strabismus), ocular movement disorders (tracking), ocular teaming disorders (eyestrain, headaches, double vision), and focusing disorders (blur, discomfort). Depending on the specific vision problems that a person has, one of several types of therapy may be administered. (See article where vision therapy allowed an adult patient to achieve 3-D vision.)
- The key to 3-D vision – LA Times – June 22, 2009
- Neurobiologist finds adult brain is quite flexible – The Spokesman Review – July 28, 2009
- From 2-D to 3-D Sight: How One Scientist Learned to See – Scientific American – August 4, 2009
Basic Vision Therapy
We possess basic viewing skills that include visual acuity, ocular movements, form perception, focusing, and binocular fusion. Basic vision therapy addresses each area and ensures that the individual can make use of what is seen. Basic vision therapy includes the following:
- Fixation: Fixations describe the act of aligning the eyes directly onto an object of regard. We determine what to fixate upon with a combination of peripheral awareness (knowing what is available within our entire field of view) and a mental determination of what is of value to view more closely.
- Following: Moving targets are followed by ocular movements called pursuits. The eyes are supposed to lock onto a target, accurately follow their path, and help the person to determine where a target will land.
- Form: In order to determine what an object is, we perform a series of very small scanning movements known as microsaccades. By scanning the parts of a given object we can transform the small pieces of information into a whole picture. The consistency of the movement pattern gives rise to visual memory, with which we can recall a previous visual experience.
- Focus: We learn to focus our eyes accurately for far away viewing, for close in viewing, and at all distances in between. Immediate focusing allows us to adjust effortlessly from one distance to another (i.e., chalkboard viewing to copying on paper). Accurate focusing increases the efficiency with which we obtain and utilize information through our visual system.
- Fusing: Since we have two eyes, we must learn to point and focus them at the same time and in the same place. When this occurs we can view the world consistently, and seeing things the same way each time makes understanding that which we see much easier. When the two eyes have difficulty fusing properly, there is initial confusion (blurry or double) between the image of one eye and the image of the other. We adapt to confusion by discontinuing the use of one eye (suppression), turning one eye with respect to the other (strabismus), or avoiding those tasks that result in visual confusion (reading, writing or ball play).
Vision therapy is an individualized program in which conditions are arranged so that a person can develop a greater degree of facility in one or more of these areas, depending on the needs of the individual.