Vision therapy uses eye exercises to improve certain eye conditions, like strabismus (abnormal alignment of the eyes), diplopia (double vision), visual attention, and concentration.
Some experts claim that vision therapy is also effective for people with learning disabilities and conditions of the nervous system. However, this is yet to be proven.
There are two main types of vision therapy – behavioural and orthoptic.
Orthoptic vision therapy — also known as orthoptics addresses conditions like headaches, eye strain, diplopia and strabismus – that may develop during routine visual tasks like reading. Behavioural visual therapy focuses on visual attention and concentration.
Orthoptic Vision Therapy
Exercises for OVT are aimed at improving sustaining focus with both eyes
simultaneously at different distances, along with depth awareness and sharpness of vision.
The exercises include:
Pencil pushups. This is where a pen or pencil is held in front of the patients face at a distance. The pen is then brought closer, and the patient is asked to signal when the pen becomes two – ie. they see double. The pen is then taken back out to the original distance, and they are asked to signal when they see the pen as one again. This is done for about a minute.
Wearing convex or concave lenses.
Reading through a “base out” prism – an effective way of screening for binocular vision
Stereogram cards. An exercise much like pencil pushups, but using cards with double images, asking the patient to notify when the image becomes one or double again depending on the distance.
Behavioural Visual Therapy
The aim of behavioural visual therapy is to improve visual concentration and attention span, and also the ability to shift focus from one thing to another.
Marsden balls. These aim to improve efficiency of eye movements. A Marsden ball is has numbers and letters printed on it. It is suspended from a height, then swung. The patient is required to call out the numbers or letters they can see.
Rotation trainers. A rotation trainer is a disc containing images or patterns. The disc spins, making it more difficult to see the images without moving the eye rapidly. This enhances hand to eye coordination, and space awareness.
Wayne Saccadic Fixator. The saccadic fixator is a wall mounted display with LED lights arranged in circles. These are touch sensitive, and the user is required to respond to the lights by touching the display. This exercise improves hand/eye coordination and reaction times.
Vision therapy is ideal for those with the above mentioned underlying conditions. You will need to visit your physician or optician and be referred to a ophthalmologist for further advice.