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Training eyes and brain to improve perception

Vision therapy trains the entire visual system to correct how we use our eyes together and how our brain perceives vision, to make vision more efficient and comfortable.

What is vision therapy?

Vision therapy (also called visual or vision training) aims to develop visual abilities to optimise visual performance and comfort. Vision therapy is a form of neurological training or rehabilitation, which is important because the eyes are an extension of the brain and how we see. It is a type of physical therapy for many common visual problems such as lazy eye, crossed eyes, double vision, focusing issues, convergence insufficiency and some reading and learning disabilities.

The ability to learn in school, perform daily activities and enjoy sports and recreation depends upon efficient vision. Even subtle issues with the visual system can have a major impact on our efficiency and performance, and even more so for children.

Vision therapy at Barry & Sargent Optometrists

We provide an individualised treatment program to correct or improve visual-motor (how we use our eyes) and/or visual-perceptual (how we perceive vision) difficulties. This specialised treatment is closely managed by a behavioural optometrist.

Vision therapy can improve important visual efficiency skills:

  • eye movement skills such as fixation and tracking;
  • focusing skills to improve accuracy and endurance;
  • binocularity skills of using both eyes together and depth perception.

Vision training can also improve important visual-perceptual abilities such as visual spatial skills, visual analysis skills, visual-motor skills such as eye-hand co-ordination, visual-auditory organisation skills and visual-thinking style.

Vision therapy includes sessions designed to enhance the brain’s ability to control visual skills and may involve the use of lenses, prisms and filters. During the final stages of therapy, these visual skills are reinforced and made automatic through repetition and by integration with movement and thinking tasks.

What is a behavioural optometrist?

A behavioural optometrist understands the way you interpret what you see is not just dependent on how clear your eyesight is. Testing can involve in-depth examinations of visual abilities including visual skills, efficiency and visual processing with an understanding of the effects of stress on visual performance.

Specialists in behavioural optometry aim to bring awareness to these visual efficiency skills to make them more accurate or more flexible, and to become automatic to allow comfortable and easy vision – the way it should be. Often better habits have to be encouraged that allow more appropriate visual “reflexes” of focusing, eye-teaming and the other visual skills. We work within each individual’s abilities and knowledge in the above areas so that the individual develops a better visual understanding of their world. Procedures are directed to challenge their understanding and ability so they can develop better strategies to overcome tasks.

What vision therapy can offer those with learning difficulties

Vision therapy can be an important part of the overall treatment of a child’s learning problem. Vision deficits can cause eyestrain, headaches, blurred or double vision, loss of place while reading and difficulty maintaining attention on close work.

In the case of learning disabilities, vision therapy is directed towards resolving visual problems which interfere with how the brain processes visual information. Vision therapy is not a direct treatment for reading or learning disabilities.

Other problems that can be helped with vision therapy

Vision training is not only for children. Many adults find that vision training can bring improvement or recovery from significant visual difficulty, even in cases in which visual problems have been previously pronounced hopeless by other vision care professionals.

Conditions that can be improved by vision training include:

  • computer-related eye strain vision problems;
  • developmental or head injury problems (birth trauma, closed head trauma, etc);
  • stroke or traumatic injuries to the brain or nervous system;
  • turned eyes or crossed eyes (strabismus) and amblyopia;

Through a series of eye exercises, patients can develop or recover normal visual skills. The goal of vision training is to train the patient’s brain to use the eyes to receive information effectively, comprehend it quickly and react appropriately.

Further information