A lot of people have heard about physical therapy after you break an arm, you need physical therapy. A lot of people have heard about speech therapy, occupational therapy for fine motor issues. Vision therapy is used to help with deficiencies of the visual system.
When we look closely, there is a multitude of things that have to happen. Our eyes have to be able to come in, they have to be able to focus correctly, and they have to be able to track. If any part of that system is not working correctly, the eyes become inefficient.
Take a child for example who’s trying to read, following a long line of words. If they have to physically stop or think about what they’re doing if it’s not coming automatically, it’s going to affect their proficiency, it’s going to affect their comprehension, and it may even affect the time they’re willing to sit and do it.
So, if the eye muscles or the function or the efficiency of the visual system is off and things aren’t working together properly, kids will not be able to reach their full academic potential.
Take for example one of my patients, I’m going to call him Jimmy. Jimmy has severe dyslexia, ADHD, and he is a brilliant boy. Mom took him in to have his eyes examined, the eye doctor said: “You know what, your eyes are fine, you’re healthy no glasses needed”. What they did not check were his eye muscles. Jimmy has a problem bringing his eye muscles in and sustaining that near focus.
Very common kids with learning differences are three times more likely to have eye muscles issues but it was greatly affecting his academic performance. So, we brought Jimmy in and I did some eye muscles testing, and I asked him I said “You know Jimmy, your eyes are not aligning very well.
How often do you see double or do you see double?” and he said, “Yes ma’am, all the time.” His mom looked at him and she said “Well Jimmy why didn’t you ever tell me that you see double?” and he said, “mom, you never asked.” So, kids often will have problems with their eye muscles or their focusing or their tracking but to them, that’s all they’ve ever known, it’s their normal.
My goal as a Vision Therapy specialist is to increase the efficiency of their visual system, help everything work together in a coordinated fashion, in order that reading and following a long line of letters is automatic and the patient doesn’t have to struggle with it. I want kids to be able to reach their full academic success.
Vision Therapy is not just for kids though. I had a patient in Boston, he was a medical student. Every time he looked behind the microscope he would see double. He couldn’t fuse, he couldn’t appreciate the depth. His eye muscles were weak. We did some vision therapy and some exercises with him, and now he can fuse and see beautifully.
So, it’s for all ages, it’s about the efficiency of the visual system and comfort. 50% of the sensory input we get to our brain is from our eyes and so it’s incredibly important that our visual system is working efficiently, and again maybe a child or an adult doesn’t need glasses. Maybe just be that they need eye exercises to correct a deficiency.