Vision therapy is a specialized program prescribed for the treatment of vision conditions that cannot be fully treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Unfortunately, there are a number of misconceptions that dissuade patients from trying a vision therapy program and getting the help they need.
This article will help try to dispel many of the common myths you may have heard about vision therapy.
MYTH #1: There is no research on the efficacy of vision therapy.
FACT: There are numerous research studies funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) that prove the efficacy of vision therapy.
According to studies, office-based vision therapy with home-based reinforcement is the most effective treatment for convergence insufficiency.
MYTH #2: Vision therapy is only for kids, not adults.
FACT: Vision therapy can be effective for people of all ages.
While children have been shown to respond well to vision therapy, adults can benefit from this specialized treatment program as well. The efficacy of the program is dependent on the type of vision condition, not the age of the patient.
Unfortunately, many patients mistakenly believe that they are too old to correct their vision condition, and they have missed their opportunity. However, it is important to understand that neuroplasticity enables the brain to remain dynamic and flexible throughout your life— proving that vision therapy can be just as effective for adults as it is for children.
Moreover, many adults have even shown faster improvements when compared to children, as a result of their motivation to succeed.
MYTH #3: Vision therapy is expensive and unaffordable.
FACT: The cost of vision therapy is similar to many other optometric services.
Additionally, some health insurance plans include partial coverage for vision therapy, leaving you with just the co-pay.
If your insurance does not provide any coverage, then many eye doctors will work out a payment plan with their patients to help make the treatment program as affordable as possible.
It is also important to keep in mind that the benefits of vision therapy typically outweigh the expense of the program, since the satisfaction you will experience will last a lifetime.
MYTH #4: Vision therapy is not necessary because glasses can correct all vision problems.
Additionally, for some vision conditions, corrective lenses combined with a vision therapy program is an even more effective solution than just eyeglasses alone.
Eyeglasses and contact lenses offer improved clarity of vision, but vision therapy actually treats the underlying problem by retraining the visual skills needed for clear and comfortable vision.
In addition, vision therapy can treat problems that glasses cannot, such as eye tracking, eye teaming and visual perceptual problems. With vision therapy, the eyes and brain learn to communicate better— facilitating a permanent change in your vision.
MYTH #5: You don’t need vision therapy if you have 20/20 vision.
FACT: Having 20/20 vision does not mean you have ‘perfect’ vision.
If you have been told that you have 20/20 vision, but you continue to experience difficulties that may be related to your vision, such as eyestrain, headaches, or difficulty reading or concentrating, you may have a vision problem.
The myth that 20/20 vision means that you have no visual difficulties prevents many people from getting the help they need.
In actuality, having 20/20 vision means that you can see an object clearly from 20 feet away. This measurement does not indicate whether you have any problems with near vision clarity, or visual skill function.
If you are experiencing headaches, eyestrain, or any other vision-related difficulties, a comprehensive vision evaluation will help to identify a vision problem and determine if you can benefit from vision therapy.
MYTH #6: Ophthalmologists are the only authority when it comes to vision and eyecare.
FACT: Both optometrists and ophthalmologists are trained and board certified to offer competent advice on eyecare.
An ophthalmologist’s advanced training focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of complex eye diseases and conditions, and the performance of surgical procedures, such as cataract, retina and laser eye surgery. An ophthalmologist can also prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses for the correction of vision problems.
An optometrist is generally the first eye doctor to visit if you are seeking treatment for a vision condition. Optometrists can treat eye conditions through corrective eyewear and medication, but do not provide surgery.
Developmental optometrists are a subset of optometrists that have undertaken extensive post-graduate training in the field of vision therapy. Vision Therapy is a customized program designed to increase the functioning of the entire visual system.
If you are suffering from a vision condition that can be treated with vision therapy, such as lazy eye, convergence insufficiency, strabismus, or difficulties with eye tracking or visual processing, it is important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with a developmental optometrist.
Developmental optometrists are trained in assessing children with learning difficulties, attention issues and poor hand-eye coordination, and can prescribe an appropriate treatment plan for their individual needs.
MYTH #7: Surgery can correct vision problems from an eye turn.
FACT: Eye muscle surgery for an eye turn (strabismus) can help the eyes to appear aligned, but cannot improve binocular vision.
To improve binocular vision, your brain will need to learn how to efficiently use both eyes together. For this reason, vision therapy is often recommended either before or after strabismus surgery— to improve the eye-brain connections necessary for binocular vision.
MYTH #8: All vision therapy programs are the same.
FACT: Each vision therapy program is individually designed for the patient and their visual needs.
Vision therapy is a treatment program that involves a series of eye exercises designed to train the eyes and brain to communicate more effectively.
Every treatment program is tailored to meet the individual needs of the patient. In some cases, vision therapy may include the use of specialized tools and equipment, such as lenses, prisms, or computer-based games.
In other cases, vision therapy may be prescribed in combination with corrective eyewear, prism lenses, or even surgery.
Understanding the true facts about vision therapy and dispelling the myths you may have heard, is the first step to getting the help you need and deserve.
If you think you can benefit from vision therapy, schedule a comprehensive vision evaluation with a developmental optometrist near you.