Vision Therapy, Improving Lives Through Vision
We often think of vision as being able to see 20/20. This idea of vision distinguishes our ability to see a high contrast target of a specific size at a specific distance. However, vision incorporates so much more. For example, our visual system determines the ability to:
- judge depth
- determine size
- localize objects in space
- follow the text on a page or screen
- maintain clear vision over a period of time
Many of our visual symptoms stem from problems that require corrective lenses but many more require training to function effectively. This process of training is called Vision Therapy.
Vision Therapy uses individualized exercises that aim to reorganize the way the brain processes visual information. It is a non-surgical treatment that can help anyone deficient in visual skills including:
- children who have vision-related learning challenges
- people with eyes that do not coordinate (sometimes referred to as Lazy Eye)
- people with large differences in vision between the eyes (creating Amblyopia)
- people trying to function again after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI may occur as a result of external trauma like a motor vehicle accident, fall or sports injury or as a result of internal trauma to the brain like a stroke, aneurysm or substance abuse
- athletes trying to improve their game (e.g. golfers, hockey players and baseball players
Vision therapy improves the overall visual function. This means children becoming effective learners and readers. This means ‘clumsy’ people moving through space surely and safely. This means patients who are post-trauma regaining the ability to read, focus on a computer screen, drive, grocery shop. Vision Therapy can be life-changing. Is your visual system helping or interfering with your ability to achieve your full potential? Schedule an appointment to find out.
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About Vision Therapy Treatments
At Family Eyecare Centre, Vision Therapy is prescribed and treated by Dr. Sangha. A comprehensive eye exam followed by specialized testing with trained Vision Therapists. Techniques and activities are often taught to the patient so that they can be practiced at home. Lenses, prisms, filters, occluders, specialized instruments, and computer programs can all be part of a Vision Therapy program. Office visits are typically once or twice per week and last approximately 30 to 60 minutes. Vision Therapy programs typically last between several weeks to several months depending on the severity of the condition. The goals of Vision Therapy treatments are to alleviate visual deficiencies and improve the quality of life.
The program is designed to address key areas of vision including the ability to:
- see details (visual acuity)
- focus our eyes for different distances (accommodation)
- coordinate our eyes to move together: this includes both pursuits (smoothly tracking a moving target) and saccades (jumping eye movements used in reading words on a page)
- converge and diverge our eyes (vergence)
- judge depth (stereopsis)
- localize ourselves and objects in space
- coordinate our eye movements with our head movement (vestibular-ocular integration)
- scan, recognize, discriminate visual information
- recall visual information
- comprehend visual information
- integrate vision with other senses.
The equipment we use in Vision Therapy:
- Corrective lenses (regulated medical devices)
- Therapeutic lenses (regulated medical devices)
- Prism lenses (regulated medical devices)
- Optical filters
- Occluders or eye patches
- Electronic targets with timing mechanisms
- Computer software. At the Family Eyecare Centre, we use computerized therapy and 3D software on large touch screen televisions. The software incorporates activities for eye-hand coordination, visual search patterns, tracking and jumping eye movements, site-word recognition, binocular work and much more. This computerized program is very successful because it is interactive, gives immediate feedback and allows for tracking improvement over time.
- Balance boards (vestibular integration)
Examples of exercises can be seen here.
Dr. Sangha, OD, BSc
When Dr. Sangha moved to Victoria, BC in 2010 Vision Therapy was not accessible in the city. This meant patients requiring Vision Therapy would be unable to reach their visual potential without travelling out of Greater Victoria. It was the perfect opportunity for her to enhance her training in a field she had always been passionate about. She persevered to complete over 100 hours of education specific to the field of Vision Therapy, while also balancing her new young family and practicing full-time. She is currently working towards her Fellowship with the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.
“Seeing a child transform from struggling with reading to enjoying it makes it all worthwhile. It opens up a whole new world that will transform their life.” – Dr. Nazima Sangha