Why Vision Therapy?
People who have participated in vision therapy programs report a wide range of benefits (see below for a list of some of these benefits). The benefits are different for everyone and depend on each person’s experiences:
* Younger patients have noticed that they get better grades in school and homework is no longer such a chore to complete.
* Adults report that they work more efficiently in the office.
* Patients of all ages say that reading is easier; they read for fun for the first time ever, they have improved at sports, and they no longer get headaches.
Vision therapy can even affect things that you might not associate with vision:
* People have noticed that they are more outgoing.
* Have higher self-esteem.
* Are more confident in trying new things.
Each vision therapy patient has a list of things that they would like to improve. Vision therapists work with patients to help them achieve those personal goals, whatever they may be.
Building visual skills through vision therapy
Visual skills, that can be developed and improved through vision therapy, includes these abilities:
* Tracking: Imagine watching someone throw a ball to you. Your eyes follow the path of this ball to your hands. You are using tracking – the ability to follow a moving object with your eyes. Tracking is vitally important when reading. You must be able to move your eyes accurately to get the full meaning when reading across a line of print.
* Fixation: When we read, we use fixation – the ability to find and look at a series of stationary objects (like words on a page).
* Focus change: Children in school use this skill constantly. Every time they look from the board to their paper and back, they are changing focus. Adults use this skill as well. While driving, it is important to be able to change your focus from the road to the instrument panel on your dashboard quickly and precisely.
* Visual discrimination: The ability to detect small differences needs to be fast and accurate. When driving a car, you need to read the street sign as ‘Henry’ not ‘Harry; reading ‘though’ not ‘through’. This requires focusing skills, tracking and fixation.
* Binocularity: Our eyes were designed to work together by pointing at the same place and moving together accurately and smoothly as one.
* Depth perception: This skill, which is directly related to binocularity, helps you to see in 3D. This critical skill gives you a finely tuned sense of exactly where things are. This is directly related to sports performance and driving a car.
* Peripheral vision: You’ve probably caught yourself saying “out of the corner of my eye”. You were referring to peripheral vision or side vision as commonly named – the ability to notice things outside of your direct line of focus and understand what is going on around you, even though you aren’t looking directly at them. For instance, keeping an eye on your kids when you go shopping. Peripheral vision also helps to direct your visual system so you know where to look next when reading.
* Near and distance acuity: Acuity is the ability to see clearly far away and up close. 20/20 or 6/6 visual acuity is what most people think of when they think of good vision or hear the word ‘optometrist’. Seeing clearly is very important, but acuity is just one of the many skills important to healthy vision.