Certain eye conditions cannot be corrected by glasses or contacts alone. When this is the case, treatments like vision therapy can be considered to assist in improving your eyesight. Vision therapy, or orthoptics, is a doctor-supervised, non-surgical and customized program of eye exercises that are designed to improve visual skills. Similar to how physiotherapy can help heal your body, vision therapy can help your eyes to be aligned properly and converge correctly.
Continue reading to learn more about what eye conditions can be treated by vision therapy exercises and the different methods of orthoptics that are available.
A failure of two eyes to maintain proper alignment and work together cohesively, there are a variety of different types of strabismus. While one eye is looking at an object, the other eye can wander inward, outward, upwards or downwards. Strabismus can occur constantly or intermittently and the wandering eye can deviate at a small or large angle from proper eye alignment — which can sometimes make strabismus difficult to spot without being examined by an optometrist.
While sometimes surgery is required to correct strabismus, in many cases vision therapy can help correctly align wandering eyes. For instance, orthoptics can help convergence insufficiency, which is a type of intermittent exotropia — when the eye wanders outward — where the eyes align properly while viewing far-away objects but misalign when looking at close objects.
This vision developmental disorder, in which one eye fails to have 20/20 vision even with the help of glasses or contacts, is often called “lazy eye.” During this condition, the weaker eye relies on the stronger eye to try to correct vision. Amblyopia often occurs in young children and needs to be corrected before your little one reaches age eight. After this age, the eyesight issue may become permanent and can lead to severe vision loss. Patching is one vision therapy technique often used to help correct amblyopia.
Vision therapy not only assists eye conditions but can also help improve your ability to focus on objects and tasks, such as reading. This form of treatment can particularly benefit children who have difficulty processing visual information in school. Orthoptics can also assist athletes elevate their level of play by increasing visual processing and reaction speed.
The ability to synergize the processes of interpreting visual information and directing coordinated movements, visual motor integration is the skill that enables young children to spoon-feed themselves, learn to ride a bike or be able to catch a ball. As your child gets older, this visual skill becomes critical for practising sports, playing musical instruments, writing neatly, understanding math and being able to read. If your child has a visual motor integration deficiency, visual therapy can help him or her learn and improve this developmental ability.
After a traumatic brain injury, damaged parts of the brain are either “turned-off” or cannot communicate with other parts of the body due to severed connections. Visual therapy can help retrain the brain to use undamaged areas, compensating for unusable sections that were affected by an injury. Alternatively, orthoptics can rewire neural connections to communicate better with the brain.
Under the supervision of an optometrist or vision therapist, there are a variety of eye exercises to improve your vision. A few different exercises include:
Pencil Push-Ups: An exercise where you focus on a small letter on the edge of your pencil and move it close to the bridge of your nose, stopping when you see double. This treatment is done for 15-minutes a day, five or more days a week.
Computer Vision Therapy: This treatment uses computer software designed to improve convergence by completing eye-focusing exercises. The results can be shared with your eye doctor.
Prism of Lens Fixation: Using different lenses with varying powers or prisms with certain orientations, this exercise helps teach your eyes to see things that are at a close distance.
Patching: This vision therapy technique is usually implemented to treat amblyopia. It uses a patch to cover a child’s strong eye. This forces the weak, or “lazy eye,” to work harder and makes the brain accept the weak eye’s visual cues.
Vision Rest: To prevent issues while focusing, it is important to offer your vision periods of rest — particularly if you spend long periods of time in front of a computer screen or staring at close-range tasks. Using the 20/20/20 rule is an exercise to assist keeping eyes healthy. Rest your eyes by looking at an object 20-feet away, for 20-seconds, after working for 20-minutes.
Strobe Glasses: Initially developed by Nike for Olympic athletes, Strobe Sports Training Glasses help prepare eyes to function effectively while under stress. The glasses use blinking liquid-crystal lenses that alternate between being transparent and opaque. The changing lenses force your eyes to adapt to seeing in difficult conditions, resulting in increased dynamic visual acuity and quicker eye-hand reaction times.
To learn more about vision therapy exercises and if this treatment is an option for you, book an appointment at your local FYidoctors clinic.