Good vision is much more than just reading the smallest line of letters on a distant eye chart, one eye at a time. Common tasks like reading require the visual system to focus both eyes accurately on the words (accommodation), point both eyes at the words to maintain a single image (convergence), and follow the words across the page without getting lost (tracking). Many people (children AND adults) have difficulty with one or more of these complex operations, and find reading and computer work difficult and uncomfortable. Vision therapy (VT) can help train two eyes to work together just as braces can train misaligned teeth to work together. Both improve function, efficiency, and comfort.
If any of these three systems do not work correctly, they usually produce multiple symptoms:
- eye strain
- losing place
- loss of concentration
- words “swimming”
- closing of one eye
- blurred vision
- double vision
- avoidance of reading
- shortened attention span
- head tilts/turns
- poor reading comprehension
To determine if these symptoms can be alleviated by vision therapy, two eye exams are usually necessary. The first is a comprehensive dilated eye exam to evaluate visual acuity and eye health. The second, on another day, is a visual efficiency exam (VEE) to investigate how well the eyes work together and whether VT would be therapeutic.
VT is a combination of in-office and at-home exercises that train the visual system to work efficiently and accurately. As the eyes learn to work better together, symptoms often lessen or disappear altogether. VT sessions are usually weekly and continue over several months; the more progress made at home, the fewer office sessions may be needed. The eyes may be trained with lenses, prisms, eye patches, and/or computer games to improve control and coordination. Age-appropriate therapy is custom-designed for each individual by a residency-trained doctor using the latest methods and based on proven research.
VT cannot cure learning disabilities but can help eliminate visual problems that make reading difficult. Once it is determined that the eyes are functioning accurately and efficiently, referrals to area learning specialists can be made.
Dr. Calah Ray has completed a residency in pediatric optometry, has expertise in diagnosing and treating binocular vision disorders, and has many vision therapy success stories to her credit. In addition to her work at Vestavia Eye Care, she was also a clinical faculty member of the UAB School of Optometry.
To find out if vision therapy may help you or your child, please contact Vestavia Eye Care at (205) 978-4088 and schedule a VEE with Dr. Ray.