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What is Vision Therapy/Visual Training?

Many people suffer with undiagnosed vision conditions.  Sometimes these problems cause symptoms like headaches, dry eyes, tired eyes, etc.  Some  vision problems don’t cause obvious symptoms, but are resulting in reduced comfort, productivity and/or stamina in ways that do not seem to point to the eyes or the visual system as the cause.  Most children with developmental delays and/or learning difficulties are struggling in part because of undiagnosed visual processing issues. All of these situations demand the attention of a behavioral optometrist who understands the development and function of the visual process.  One reason so many people have undiagnosed visual conditions is that most eye care professionals are not inclined to think in terms of visual function other than the ability to see clearly.  Behavioral optometrists can diagnose even the most subtle visual problem and recommend various treatment options.  The most common and most clinically proven option for these kinds of problems is vision therapy.  Therapeutic lenses are also useful in providing help and relief in most of situations described above.

Vision therapy is a program for actively training the visual process to develop new strategies.  Vision therapy, provided by a behavioral optometrist, should include the therapeutic use of lenses.  Vision therapy is not eye exercises.  Eyes do not need to exercise.  Even obvious eye teaming problems, those where you see someone who has one eye that appears not to be aiming with the other eye, are rarely muscle problems.  Most visual difficulty results from an inability in the brain, not the eyes.  The primary purpose of vision therapy is to help the brain learn how to use the eyes more effectively.  Vision therapy, at its best is a program that involves the brain and movement of the body.  This promotes continued development of the visual process, which is necessary for us to keep up with the changing demands we all face over the course of our lives.  This article provides a brief description of who may benefit from vision therapy and what is involved in a typical vision therapy program.

vision therapy visual training behavioral optometryVision therapy, also known as visual training, is a program of activities that help a person engage in, observe, learn about, and change the way they are using their visual process. Although vision therapy is often referred to as “eye exercises” vision therapy is much more than that.  It is possible to retrain the brain with vision therapy by setting up the proper conditions, and using the appropriate language, equipment, and perhaps most important of all – lenses.  This is an important point.  The eyes and their supporting muscles can only do what the brain tells them to do.  When the visual process is not working properly it is because there is confusion in the brain.  That is, the brain is not processing visual information accurately.  This in turn causes errors in the output.  Vision is primarily a process involved with output. Output can consist of thought, relating information through spoken or written language or some other type of bodily movement.

Many problems in visual processing stem from delays or glitches in visual development. The visual process develops throughout our lives, or at least it is supposed to. Many people struggle as a result of visual developmental delays without even realizing it. This is in part because only behavioral optometrists and a minority of other eye care professionals are able to connect the dots required to properly diagnose these conditions. If any of the things on this checklist apply to you, find a behavioral optometrist and consider a program of vision therapy. You won't regret it.