The primary purpose of the visual process is to direct action.
Of course we must first see with our eyes and get meaning from what we see. However, the most important step in this process is our response to this input. What do we do with what we’ve seen? Can we answer questions about what we saw correctly? Can we catch the ball coming toward us? Can we copy exactly what is on the board accurately and quickly? Can we judge speeds and distances quickly and accurately while driving? All of these questions relate to visual output. Vision therapy deals with all aspects of the visual process, especially output.
Vision therapy also enables a person to become more aware of the way they use the visual process as well as helping people to be more aware of their surroundings. Improvement in these areas helps reduce stress, increase comfort and maximize performance. A good vision therapy program also helps people, especially young people, to become more self-directed and self-motivated. Vision therapy is process oriented, not product oriented. Certainly the hope is that the end product is one that eliminates symptoms, improves visual information processing and provides a satisfactory resolution to the issues that led to the decision to pursue a vision therapy program. However, the meat of the program itself is about the process of becoming more effective and efficient at carrying out visual tasks.
Vision therapy is a program of activities designed to improve visual devellopment, comfort and performance. There are many conditions that consistently involve visual difficulties and respond well to vision therapy. These include:
- delays in visual development
- autism spectrum behaviors
- overall developmental delays
- neurological conditions
- acquired brain injuries
- stress related breakdown of visual abilities
- various injuries that affect posture
- improper or overuse of vision
Difficulties in visual performance can lead to:
- poor overall development
- poor coordination
- overall learning difficulties, so-called learning disabilities
- difficulty learning to read
- discomfort while reading
- poor handwriting
- attention deficits
- inability to complete work on time
- eye, neck, muscle discomfort at the computer
- eye strain, itching eyes, red eyes, dry eyes
No matter what the cause, and no matter which of the above symptoms or complaints may be present, vision therapy can usually help. Anyone experiencing one or more of the difficulties listed above is a candidate for vision therapy. They should be properly evaluated by a behavioral optometrist, and in most cases can be helped. A person begins a program of vision therapy in order to increase visual comfort, visual endurance, visual efficiency and/or to eliminate symptoms. Vision therapy may also be useful for people who want to stop wearing glasses, reduce the strength of their glasses or just want to improve their visual performance for school, work or sports.
Vision therapy is in part a process of self-discovery. Some of the discovery occurs by observing the performance of the various activities in the vision therapy room. Some of the discoveries are more subtle and occur when you notice that something you have always done takes less effort than it did before and also gets done with a better result. It is a non-invasive program exercises incorporating the mind, the body and the visual process. Vision therapy is most successful when each session is designed and guided by an experienced behavioral optometrist. It is also important that it be an individualized program of activities, utilizing lenses and prisms. Many offices utilize therapists to carry out the vision therapy sessions. Many of these therapists are well-trained and highly qualified, but I prefer to provide all therapy personally in my office because I feel that vision therapy is too important to delegate to an assistant, no matter how qualified.
The activities are designed to improve visual functioning in the areas of visual development, peripheral visual awareness, eye movements, focusing, eye teaming, eye-hand coordination, and visual acuity. Some activities may emphasize a particular area of visual function, although most involve two or more areas simultaneously and many incorporate other modalities such as auditory processing, fine and gross motor, and/or general cognitive processing. The more integrative the activity, the greater the impact it will have. In reality, all aspects of the visual process are engaged any time you are doing any visual activity. In fact, every activity involves the entire visual process and the entire person no matter how much one might try to isolate a particular aspect of the visual process during any given activity.
Vision therapy is designed to set up conditions that enable a person to engage in visual activities while increasing their awareness of how they use the visual process. Vision therapy provides feedback as to how smoothly and accurately (or not) a person is processing visual information and how well that processing directs the actions needed to complete a particular task. Vision therapy is useful to improve the ability to process information more rapidly and accurately. This increases efficiency, comfort and endurance. It is also important to maximize flexibility of visual performance so that no matter what the situation, the visual process is able to do its job with the least amount of effort and the highest quality outcome. The typical program consists of weekly in-office sessions utilizing lenses and movement. There is almost always a therapeutic lens prescription given for home, school or work use in between vision therapy sessions in my office. Vision therapy should almost always include the prescription of therapeutic lenses in my opinion.
Contact Dr. Gallop in Broomall, PA for more information about behavioral optometry, vision therapy or developmental lenses.