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Vision Therapy

5 Vision Therapy Myths Debunked

5 Vision Therapy Myths 640There’s a lot of misinformation out there, especially when it comes to vision therapy — a customized program that trains the eyes and brain to work together more effectively and efficiently.

We are here to dispel those myths.

5 Myths and Facts about Vision Therapy

1. Myth: Vision therapy is just for children

Fact: People of all ages can benefit from vision therapy.

Although vision therapy is widely prescribed for younger patients, many adults have benefited from a personalized vision therapy program. That’s because the basis of vision therapy is neuroplasticity — the brain’s ability to change and learn new habits.

Your brain is capable of forming new neural pathways throughout your entire life, so vision therapy can be effective at any age.

2. Myth: Vision therapy isn’t based on scientific research

Fact: There are numerous scientific studies that prove the effectiveness of vision therapy, funded and published by the National Eye Institute (NEI).

In fact, according to several studies, vision therapy is the most effective treatment for the most common binocular vision problem, convergence insufficiency. Research also supports the efficacy of vision therapy when it comes to lazy eye (amblyopia), eye turn (strabismus), and difficulties related to reading and learning.

3. Myth: All vision therapy is the same

Fact: No two vision therapy treatments are alike. Each patient’s condition is unique and is treated accordingly.

Vision therapists use a host of different exercises, devices, computer programs, lenses, prisms, and other equipment for treatment. Your optometrist will decide which options will benefit your condition.

4. Myth: Eye surgery is the only option for treating eye misalignment

Fact: While surgery may help the eyes appear more aligned, it can’t fully improve binocular function.

In other words, surgery corrects the physical problem of alignment but doesn’t teach the eyes and brain to work together. That’s why vision therapy is often recommended for patients who have had strabismus surgery or are considering it.

5. Myth: I don’t need vision therapy, I have 20/20 eyesight

Fact: Vision therapy has little to do with eyesight, and everything to do with how your eyes function.

Even a person with 20/20 eyesight can have poor tracking skills, eye movement skills, depth perception, and other visual deficits.

In fact, you may have poor visual skills and not even know it. If you experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea, eyestrain, or difficulty with concentrating and reading, it may be time to have your vision evaluated by a vision therapist to identify any underlying problems related to your visual skills.

To schedule a functional vision evaluation for you or your child, call Dana Kinberg Optometry today!

Dana Kinberg Optometry serves patients from Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Clyde Hill, and throughout Washington.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dana Kindberg

Q: #1: What is vision therapy?

  • A: Vision therapy is a program of [curtomized] eye exercises that are performed in-office with an at-home component as well. Vision therapy helps develop the visual system and trains the eyes and brain to work in unison. Duration of treatment varies from patient to patient, as each person responds differently. Speak to us to learn more about what we offer and how we can help.

Q:#2: Is vision therapy covered by insurance?

  • A: Vision therapy may be covered under major medical insurance plans (vision therapy is most often applied to a medical policy as opposed to a vision policy). However, certain insurance companies may deny or place severe limits on coverage for vision therapy as a cost-saving measure. When sorting out the insurance details for vision therapy, it’s important to know what questions to ask of your insurance agent or workplace HR department.


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Can Vision Therapy Help Myopia?

Can Vision Therapy Help Myopia 640You may have heard of vision therapy in the context of helping adults and children with a lazy eye, eye turn, or learning difficulties.

But did you know that in some cases, vision therapy may also be effective in preventing, reducing, or slowing myopia (nearsightedness)?

While it’s true that scientists haven’t yet found a cure for myopia, vision therapy may help by targeting certain contributing factors of myopia.

To assess whether vision therapy is right for your child, call Dana Kinberg Optometry in Redmond Town Center today.

But First, How Does Vision Therapy Work?

To give you a better sense of what vision therapy is, here are some facts. Vision therapy:

  • Is a non-invasive set of visual exercises tailored to your specific needs
  • May involve the use of specialized prisms or filters, computerized aids, balance beams, and other therapeutic tools
  • Trains the brain and eyes to work as a team
  • Develops visual skills like eye tracking, teaming, accommodation, convergence, visual processing, visual memory, focusing, and depth perception
  • May involve an at-home component, like daily visual exercises
  • Is evidence-based. Published data has shown that it can be an effective program to improve reading, learning, overall school and sports performance

How Does Vision Therapy Relate To Myopia?

While vision therapy may not be able to fully reverse or treat myopia, some nearsighted people appear to benefit from it.

Some vision therapists have reported patients’ myopia improvement during or after the vision therapy process. This may be due to a strengthened visual skill called accommodation—the eyes’ ability to maintain clear focus on objects. Poor focusing skills have been linked to myopia. In fact, research shows that having an accommodation lag (when the eyes can’t pull the focus inwards enough to clearly see a very close object) could be a risk factor for myopia development and progression. That said, it’s worth noting that research findings are still mixed on this matter.

Accommodative spasm, also known as “pseudo-myopia,” occurs when the eyes lock their focus on a near object and then have difficulty releasing the focus to view distant objects. The reason this is considered a false myopia is because it has to do with the focusing mechanism of the lens rather than the elongation of the eye, the main characteristic of myopia.

Pseudo-myopia can be treated with vision therapy, assuming the accommodation spasm is the only culprit for blurred distance vision. In this case, the patient may no longer need to wear prescription lenses for vision correction following a successful vision therapy program,

So what’s the bottom line?

In some cases, vision therapy may be able to improve a person’s blurry vision—but research on the subject is ongoing.

If you or your child has myopia and you’re curious as to whether vision therapy can help, schedule a functional visual assessment for your child.

To schedule your appointment with our optometrists, call Dana Kinberg Optometry today.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Dana Kindberg

 

Q: #1: Who can benefit from vision therapy?

  • A: Children and adults with visual dysfunction can benefit from a personalized program of vision therapy. Visual dysfunction can manifest in many ways, including—but not limited to—behavioral and learning problems, coordination difficulties, headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and attention deficits.

Q: #2: Do all optometrists offer vision therapy?

  • A: No. You should only seek vision therapy from a qualified optometrist experienced in offering vision therapy for a variety of visual disorders. Other types of therapists sometimes claim to offer vision therapy, but only an eye doctor can prescribe the necessary visual treatments for optimal results.
  • Dana Kinberg Optometry serves patients from Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Clyde Hill, and throughout Washington.

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Why Vision Therapy Provides Lasting Correction For Strabismus – Eye-Turn

cat strabismusStrabismus, more commonly referred to as “cross-eye” or “eye turn,” is a condition where the eyes don’t point in the same direction. While many people choose to correct the condition with surgery, the problem often persists, leaving many patients with little to no improvement. A better, more holistic approach is a personalized vision therapy program like the one offered at Dana Kinberg Optometry. If you or a loved one is experiencing even a slight eye-turn, speak with our optometrists to determine if vision therapy can help you.

What Is Strabismus?

The terms “eye-turn” and “lazy-eye” are often confused, but they are two different conditions. Strabismus refers to an eye-turn, a condition that can be constant or occur only sporadically. The eyes don’t move in unison, so when the brain receives a different image from each eye, it can’t form a unified image. To cope with the conflicting messages, the brain may suppress, or “turn off,” one of the images. As a result, the suppressed eye will not develop the same coordination with the brain as the stronger eye, which can lead to permanent visual loss or even blindness in the weaker eye, and several other serious visual problems.

Strabismus can manifest in different ways and with varying degrees of magnitude. Each case is unique, and your optometrist can provide clarity on your particular condition at your next eye exam.

What Are Common Symptoms of Strabismus?

When the eyes aren’t aligned, certain symptoms can arise. Aside from the eyes being visibly misaligned, someone with strabismus may squint or tilt their head in order to avoid seeing double. An eye-turn also negatively affects depth perception, making driving or playing sports challenging.

Children with strabismus may close or cover one eye when trying to read the board in the classroom, or while focusing on distant objects. They may have poor grades and be reluctant to participate in team sports due to a lack of visual skills. Often, children with visual difficulties are mistakenly diagnosed with a learning or social disorder when their vision is the problem.

Why Is Vision Therapy a Better Treatment Than Surgery?

The primary reason that surgery isn’t the ideal strabismus treatment is that it ignores the source of the problem: the connection between the brain and the affected eye. Surgeons will try and move the point of the muscle’s attachment to the eye in the hope that this will straighten the affected eye. While this method can at times be effective, many patients are left needing a second or even third surgery because the first hasn’t produced the necessary improvement. Additionally, surgery is invasive and poses risks of infection and other surgical complications.

In the event that surgery is the best option, optometrists often recommend a program of vision therapy either before or after the surgery. This program provides the best opportunity for the misaligned eye to develop connectivity to the brain and stay in the correct position.

In contrast to surgery, optometric vision therapy trains the brain and eye to work together to achieve long-lasting results. By developing this eye-brain connectivity, the long term goal is for eyes to work in unison and ultimately achieve 3D vision.

If you or your child have been diagnosed with strabismus, call Dana Kinberg Optometry to schedule an eye exam with our optometrists and start your journey to healthy vision.

Why Does Vision Therapy Help with Strabismus from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Dana Kinberg Optometry provides vision therapy and other services to patients from Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Clyde Hill, and throughout Washington.

 

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Treating Your Non-Reader With Vision Therapy

toddler reading book 1257105 (1)The following scenario may sound familiar. It’s a school night and your child has a reading assignment which he or she refuses to complete. You plead with your child, offering to read it together or incentivizing with a reward. No matter what you do, your child just wants to watch TV or play yet another video game.

Perhaps you’ve already consulted with your child’s teacher, school counselor, and pediatrician about the reading difficulties, just to be told that all seems normal — yet you remain concerned. At Dana Kinberg Optometry, we understand the challenges for parents and children that accompany reading difficulties, and we’re here to help.

A functional visual evaluation with our optometrists will determine whether the child’s visual system may actually be at the root of your child’s reading and learning struggles. If a visual problem is hindering your child from reaching their potential, the vision therapy program offered at Dana Kinberg Optometry can help turn your child into a proficient reader.

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Visual Skills Necessary For Reading

There are many visual skills that contribute to academic success. One of the least important skills is termed visual acuity (clarity, sharpness), also known as 20/20 vision, this only assesses how well a child sees at twenty feet away and is part of basic vision screenings in schools and most regular eye exams. However, how well a child sees at a distance of twenty feet has little to do with how well their visual system performs at the reading and learning distance — approximately 11 to 16 inches from the face.

More relevant visual skills required for reading include eye-tracking, eye-teaming, convergence, accommodation, and visual fixation. These skills are assessed during a functional visual evaluation. In simpler terms — both eyes need to work together, move at the same pace, and provide a single and clear image for the brain to interpret. Imagine trying to read when the words are blurry or even doubled? Vision therapy is a customized program to improve these visual skills by training the brain to improve these visual skills —thereby significantly improving the child’s reading, learning, and performance at school.

Early Signs of a Struggling Reader

Although detecting a child’s visual problem can be difficult — either because he or she may not complain about their vision or simply lack the communication skills needed to describe their struggles — several signs may indicate an underlying vision problem. If your child exhibits any of the following behaviors, it may be time to get a functional vision evaluation with our optometrists.

  • Reading below grade level
  • Low attention span or excessive fidgeting
  • Behavioral issues caused by frustration
  • Resistance to attend school or do homework
  • Shying away from reading out loud or avoiding reading altogether
  • Struggling to summarize or remember what was just read
  • Teachers may notice the child takes frequent bathroom breaks during activities involving reading
  • Covering one eye, head-tilting, or frequently blinking when looking at far-away objects, such as a blackboard
  • Headaches after reading

How Does Vision Therapy Work?

Vision therapy focuses on improving the child’s visual skills. These visual skills, just like walking and talking, are learned skills that can be trained and improved. The brain’s neuroplasticity allows for new learning pathways to be created, making it possible for a child to gain visual skills that weren’t present beforehand. Because around 75% to 90% of a child’s learning occurs through the visual system, any issues with the various visual skills could hinder a child from achieving their potential. On the flipside, enhancing visual abilities can make learning and reading easier and more accessible.

If a vision-related reading issue is the underlying cause of your child’s reading and learning struggles, the vision therapy program at Dana Kinberg Optometry will target and treat your child’s particular issues in a customized program.

Each vision therapy session takes place in-office on a weekly basis under the supervision of our optometrists. In between sessions, your child will also be expected to perform at-home visual exercises. The length of treatment will depend on the type and degree of the vision-related reading issues. The vision therapist will use various aids and tools, such as prisms, filters, eye patches, balance beams, and digital simulations in the therapeutic process.

Give your child the tools for proficient reading and academic success with vision therapy. If you suspect that a vision problem may be preventing your child from succeeding, contact Dana Kinberg Optometry today to schedule a functional vision evaluation.

our optometrists provides vision therapy and other services to patients from Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Clyde Hill, and throughout Washington.

Request A Functional Visual Exam
Find Out How We Can Help You! Call Our Offices