Amblyopia, also known as “lazy eye,” is a condition in which one eye has reduced visual acuity because it is not being used correctly. This can occur when the eyes are misaligned, when one eye has a higher refractive error (meaning it requires a stronger eyeglass or contact lens prescription) than the other, or when one eye is obstructed by a congenital cataract or other abnormal tissue. Amblyopia typically affects only one eye, but it can sometimes affect both eyes. It is the most common cause of visual impairment in children and can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated.
What is vision therapy?
Vision therapy, also known as visual training or visual rehabilitation, is a type of treatment that uses eye exercises and activities to improve visual skills such as eye coordination, eye movement, and eye teaming. It is often used to treat vision problems that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses alone, such as amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (misaligned eyes), and convergence insufficiency (difficulty coordinating the eyes for close work).
Vision therapy typically involves a series of sessions with a therapist or optometrist, during which the patient performs a variety of activities designed to improve visual skills. These activities may include:
Eye-tracking exercises: Using a series of moving targets or special glasses, the patient practices following objects with their eyes.
Vergence exercises: These exercises involve looking at an object and then shifting focus to another object at a different distance.
Eye-teaming exercises: The patient practices using both eyes together to perceive depth and spatial relationships.
Peripheral awareness exercises: The patient practices using their peripheral vision to identify objects or patterns.
Vision therapy may also involve the use of special lenses, prisms, or filters to help the eyes work together more effectively. It is typically performed in a clinical setting, but some exercises may also be prescribed for at-home practice.
Does vision therapy work?
Vision therapy can be an effective treatment for many visual problems, including amblyopia, strabismus, and vergence insufficiency. It can also be helpful for individuals who have visual processing disorders, such as dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and for those who have developed visual problems as a result of brain injury or neurological conditions.
There is a significant body of research demonstrating the effectiveness of vision therapy in improving visual skills and reducing visual symptoms. Many studies have found that vision therapy can significantly improve visual acuity, eye alignment, and eye teaming skills, as well as reduce symptoms such as eye strain, headaches, and difficulty reading.
It’s important to note that vision therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution and may not be appropriate for all individuals with visual problems. The effectiveness of vision therapy may depend on the specific visual problem being treated, the individual’s age and underlying cause of the problem, and the severity of the problem. It’s important to work with an eye care professional to determine the most appropriate treatment for your specific needs.