Vision therapy is a doctor-supervised program designed to correct many common visual disorders and/or improve visual skills. It’s especially useful for treating vision problems that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, contacts, or surgery alone.
We provide optometric vision therapy in our office. Just as there is physical therapy or speech therapy, vision therapy is therapy for the eyes. We are able to teach children and adults how to use their eyes correctly and efficiently.
Book an appointment at Fairbury Vision Center to learn more about vision therapy and whether it’s a good option for you.
What is vision therapy used to treat?
Vision Therapy is Especially Effective for Patients with:
- Strabismus/Crossed Eyes
- Amblyopia/Lazy Eye
- Focusing Problems
- Eye Fatigue
- Reading Difficulties
- Learning Disabilities
- Visual Field Loss
Vision therapy is a lot like physical therapy for the eyes and the brain. It is typically used to improve focus and range of focus, depth perception, and the ability for the eyes and brain to work together.
A vision therapy program may be recommended by your optometrist to help with vision problems, including:
- Depth-perception problems
- Sports vision problems
- Lazy or crossed eyes
- Vision-sensory impairments
- Vision problems caused by traumatic brain injuries or strokes
- Double vision issues and eye tracking problems
- Certain reading disabilities
Strabismus (Eye Turn):
Approximately 1 out of every 25 children have an eye that turns in the wrong direction. Sometimes the turn is obvious and other times it’s small and occurs only when looking at near. Treatments may include vision therapy, eye muscle surgery, bifocal lenses, prism, or a combination of these treatments.
Amblyopia (Lazy Eye):
4 out of every 100 children have amblyopia, an inability to see the 20/20 line with one or both eyes. We provide a variety of treatments for amblyopia including: vision therapy, special patches for children, or atropine drops. While it is best to identify and treat amblyopia early, it is never too late to treat it with vision therapy.
Vision Develops as Your Child Grows
We are not born with good vision. Vision develops from infancy through childhood and continues to change throughout our lives. Proper vision development plays a vital role in your child’s overall growth and development.
Undiagnosed and untreated vision problems can interfere with learning, self-esteem, and career choices. Our goal is to ensure that our patients have clear and efficient vision that helps, rather than hinders, their personal, academic, and professional aspirations.
Your Child’s First Eye Exam
Your child does NOT need to read or speak in order to have an eye exam. We have specialized equipment and testing designed to determine a child’s vision without needing a child’s response. Infants should get their first eye exam at 6 months to 1 year of age. Children of all ages should receive a yearly eye exam to ensure they have all the visual skills critical for reading and learning.
Vision Screening vs. Eye Exam
Many of the children we see have passed vision screenings, yet struggle with undiagnosed vision problems. It is important for parents to understand that vision screenings by a pediatrician or school nurse do not replace an eye exam. Most screenings only test distance vision (“20/20”), color vision, and the obvious signs of vision problems. The ability to see the letters on an eye chart is just one of more than 15 visual skills that are critical to reading and learning.
Vision therapy and learning problems
Any child experiencing reading or learning disabilities should have a comprehensive eye exam to test for vision problems. In cases where the learning problem is vision-related, then vision therapy may be a part of the treatment program.
Some of the signs that your child may have a vision problem affecting their ability to learn include:
- Not wanting to read or examine their schoolwork closely
- Complaints of headaches or their eyes hurting
- Lack of attention span during tasks requiring visual attention
- Signs of problems with remembering imagery or words
- Squinting, tilting their head, or closing one eye during visual tasks
The Link Between Vision & Learning
There are many visual skills required for learning that are not typically tested in a routine eye exam. Some of these skills include:
Eye Movement (Tracking)
If you think about how you use your eyes when you read, you will find that your eyes move a lot: back & forth along the lines of print. Inadequate eye movements may cause a student to lose his or her place when reading, have difficulty copying from the board, and skip small words when reading.
One needs to change focus when switching from looking at something up close to looking at something far away (similar to a camera). During the day, your child needs to change focus to see the board in the classroom and then read or write at his/her desk. Symptoms of a focusing problem may include: blurred vision while reading, inability to see clearly at distance after reading, and fatigue or headaches while reading.
Eye Teaming (Convergence)
When the two eyes do not work together, it may result in double vision, frequent loss of place when reading, headaches or eyestrain, and inability to stay focused on a visual task for any prolonged period of time.
Tasks such as writing, drawing, and throwing or catching a ball require well developed eye-hand coordination skills. Undiagnosed vision problems can cause difficulties with eye hand coordination.
How is a vision therapy program structured?
All of our doctors are well-equipped to diagnose binocular vision conditions, amblyopia, and strabismus at your child’s comprehensive eye exam. The exam findings will be discussed, the doctor will determine if glasses are required, and/or if a vision therapy evaluation is advised.
A vision therapy evaluation with Dr. Rieger includes additional testing of how the eyes move, focus, and work together. Some diagnostic tests include: Right Eye, Keystone, Van Orden Star, Developmental Eye Movement (DEM), and MVTP4 (Motor-Free Visual Perception Test), among other tests of 3D vision, focusing, eye movement, and eye posture. Based on the results of these tests and symptoms reported by the patient and parent, Dr. Rieger will determine if vision therapy is advised and will give an estimated length of treatment.
Dr. Rieger creates a customized vision therapy plan for each patient. The vision therapy program will be tailored to improving the patient’s vision skills in the deficient categories. Vision therapy is taught in-office one-on-one by Katie, our vision therapist. Vision therapy sessions are approximately 45 minutes. Skills are reinforced at home with simple home therapy procedures.
Dr. Terri Rieger is a developmental optometrist; she provides detailed testing for the diagnosis & treatment of vision problems that often interfere with reading and learning. Using the latest technologies and her knowledge from 20 years in practice, Dr. Rieger treats a wide variety of binocular conditions at our Fairbury location. She is a member of COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development) and OEP (Optometric Extension Program).
Vision therapy makes such a difference in the lives of our patients–in the classroom, in the workforce, and with day-to-day visual tasks. We are pleased to offer this specialized treatment, which is often only available in larger cities, to our local communities.
If you’d like to learn more about vision therapy and discuss your options with an experienced eye care professional, book an appointment at Fairbury Vision Center. We look forward to meeting you.