Vision Therapy Resources
When evaluating the benefits of vision therapy, it is important to make clear the large body of evidence available that demonstrates its usefulness. Numerous research reports have been conducted to help demonstrate the effectiveness of such therapy programs in treating patients who present with an array of vergence, eye tracking, eye teaming, accommodation (focusing) and strabismic (eye turn) concerns.
Convergence Insufficiency is a title attributed to a condition in which a person is unable to make the convergent eye movements (crossing of the eye, movement of the eyes inward) necessary to keep objects held at a close distance single, steady and clear.
Most of these patients present to the clinic with specific symptoms such as eye pain, frontal headaches and general discomfort during reading tasks. This lack of convergence can also be linked to a reduction in focusing, due to the interrelation between convergence and accommodation (focusing). As such near blur is another primary concern.
Research has indicated that 15% of the population (1) suffer from this eye concern, and of all treatment modalities, orthoptic vision therapy is the cheapest and most effective cure and long term management of the condition. A study involving over 2000 participants sought to compare orthoptic vision therapy with other treatment modalities. Of the participants, over 75% reported complete cure following the treatment, with a further 15% showing marked improvements (2).
As well as providing a short term cure, researchers were interested to see if the benefits gained from the therapy were long lasting. One study found that following the completion of treatment, the effects of the vision therapy lasted for at least two years. A study on older participants replicated these results with the cure rate starting at 96% and remaining at 83% 9-12 months following the cessation of treatment (3).
These studies show that not only does vision therapy provide long term relief, but it also works on all age groups, with the age demographic of the latter study group being over 60 years old.
- Cooper J, Duckman R. Convergence insufficiency: incidence, diagnosis and treatment. J Am Opt Assoc 1978; 49:673-80.
- Grisham JD. Visual therapy results for convergence insufficiency: a literature review. Am J Optom Phyiol Opt 1988; 65:448-54.
- Cohen AH, Soden R. Effectiveness of visual therapy for convergence insufficiencies for an adultpopulation. J Am Optom Assoc 1984; 55:491-4.
Effective reading requires clear, comfortable steady and controlled viewing. If there is an eye tracking or focusing concern, reading is compromised. As such orthoptic vision therapy is a method used to help build the foundations necessary to acquire reading skills.
A study comparing reading tutoring and orthoptic vision therapy for the management of poor reading was conducted to help determine the effectiveness of the two modalities. The study revealed that while both methods of treatment showed considerable improvements, the orthoptic vision therapy had the added benefit of curing the symptoms of tired, blurry, uncomfortable eyes, as well as headaches (4).
- Atzmon D, Nemet P, Ishay A, Karni E. A randomized prospective masked and matched comparative study of orthoptic treatment versus conventional reading tutoring treatment for reading disabilities in 62 children. Bin Vis Ey Mus Surg Qtly. 1993; 8:91-106.
An intermittent exotropia is a condition in which an eye will turn out transiently throughout the day, or depending on the distance at which a person is looking. There are differing perspectives regarding the best method of management for such a condition. While some suggest surgery, studies recently have shown that for moderate size turns the less invasive option of vision therapy is recommended.
A study conducted on 31 intermittent exotropes found that of the group over 64% were cured while a further 20% showed significant or fair improvements with the therapy alone (5).
- Sanflippo S, Clahane AC. The effectiveness of orthoptics alone in selected cased of exodeviations: the immediate results and several years later. Am Orthopt J 1970; 20:104-17.
Focusing (Accommodative) Problems
An accommodative issue is one which manifests as an inability to hold near vision clear. Patients with accommodative anomalies will notice blurred, uncomfortable vision especially during near viewing tasks. This defective accommodation is best resolved with the use of both plus lenses to provide clear and comfortable near vision, as well as vision therapy to help rebuild and restore the reduced focusing ability.
Various studies have demonstrated the benefits of adopting such practices when tackling focusing problems. One such study showed that 87% of patients were able to normalise their accommodation following a course of the orthoptic vision therapy sessions (6). Another study replicated these findings with the experimental group of participants who underwent accommodation therapy showing significantly reduced symptoms as well as marked improvement of their accommodation ability (7).
- Hoffman L, Cohen A, Feuer G. Effectiveness of non-strabismus optometric vision training in a private practice. Am J Optom 1973; 50:813-6.
- Cooper J, Feldman JM, Selenow A, et al. Reduction of asthenopia following accommodative facility training. Am J Optom Physiol Opt 1987; 64:430-6.
The consensus so far:
When it comes to eye health and functionality, it takes expert orthoptic therapy to help resolve any concerns. Whether you are a child at school or an adult in the workplace, vision therapy is for you. Studies prove that not only is this treatment options effective, but the longevity of such a management technique surpasses any other methods available today.