In July 2016, a group of our optometrists and vision therapists attended NACBO a conference run by Australian College of Behavioural Optometry. In an exciting and jam packed two days, Dr. David Cook shared his clinical experience and research on vision therapy for Strabismus and Amblyopia.
Dr. Cook is a one of the leading optometrists, lecturer and author in the area of vision therapy from the United States. He has been practicing vision therapy for 35 years and travels widely to Canada, New Zealand and across the United States to present seminars. He is the author of “Visual Fitness” and “When Your Child Struggles”. His article “Eyesight, Infinity and the Human Heart” which describes how vision therapy can change lives won the optometric editor’s award. At the moment he is working on pioneering the use of 3D movies in treating strabismus.
One of the main topics of the conference was on 3D vision (stereopsis). When vision is normal, each eye captures the image from its angle. The brain then integrates the two different images to form a single 3D image.
Can you see 3D?
- Hold your hand 20cm in front of your face with your fingers pointed towards you.
- Close one eye at a time and notice how each eye will have a different view.
- Now use both eyes to look at your hand, can you notice how it looks different. You may notice the extra “space” between your fingers and you may notice your fingertips pop out more towards you. This is 3D vision.
Without 3D vision, some day to day tasks can become more difficult because you will be unable to judge where objects are with precision. Catching or hitting a ball, driving and parking a car, threading a needle, walking up and down stairs are examples of tasks which become more difficult without 3D vision.Many patients suffering from strabismus, amblyopia and other binocular vision dysfunctions can have poorly developed 3D vision or no 3D vision at all. One of the aims of vision therapy is achieving 3D vision. Not only is it advantageous in day to day life, but is also important in maintaining eye alignment even when therapy is stopped. This is because when 3D vision is achieved, the brain is able to completely understand how to use the two eyes together.
Over the two days, a number of vision therapy activities were demonstrated and discussed. Dr. Cook also explained how and why he chooses particular exercise when tailoring the program to different types of strabismus. Often in the vision therapy room, specialised equipment such as vectograms are used to help develop the awareness of 3D vision. What was particularly interesting was how we can help patients transfer these skills into the real world. Dr Cook showed us activities incorporating real life objects such as doorways and mirrors to develop 3D vision in the real world. After all, good 3D vision should not be limited to the vision therapy room but must transfer into day to day life!
By the end of the conference, our brains were full, our minds were challenged, and our repertoire of vision therapy exercises stretched and expanded so that we can provide better care for our strabismic and amblyopic patients.” Dr Shereen Kassir, Eyecare Kids Optometrist