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A Short History of Vision Therapy

girl glasses city 640×350You’ve probably heard about vision therapy – perhaps from another medical professional or others who’ve experienced the benefits firsthand. But questions remain.

That’s where we come in.

Below, we’ll shed light on what vision therapy is, what it isn’t, and how it came to be.

What Is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy (VT) is a subspecialty of optometry consisting of a series of individualized visual exercises to treat the patient’s specific visual needs. Sessions take place regularly, in-office, while under the supervision of an optometrist, and are combined with daily vision at-home exercises performed by the patient.

Vision therapy has been proven to successfully treat or improve the following eye conditions:

  • Strabismus (eye turn)
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Convergence insufficiency
  • Eye-tracking or focusing problems
  • Post-concussion vision problems

We use a host of tools and techniques to strengthen the eye-brain connection, including:

  • Prisms
  • Therapeutic lenses
  • Eye patches
  • Balance boards
  • Electronic visual stimulants
  • Auditory aids
  • Many other specialized tools developed for vision therapy

The goal of vision therapy is to help patients improve or develop visual skills or abilities in order to increase visual comfort and effectively process visual information.

What Vision Therapy Isn’t

VT isn’t meant to rid the patient of glasses or contacts, as it doesn’t correct refractive errors –such as myopia or hyperopia.

You can think of VT as a program that uses various therapies and exercises to retrain the neural processes of the brain thus improving the eye-brain connection.  Ultimately, the goal of vision therapy is to teach the patient new visual skills in an engaging and motivating way until the learned skill becomes automatic. So while glasses or contacts are often used in addition to vision therapy, the goal isn’t for the patient to see  20/20 without them.

Who Can Benefit From Vision Therapy?

Adults and children with a vision disorder can benefit from VT.

Someone with a visual disorder may experience any of the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness while reading
  • Poor depth perception
  • Floaters
  • Poor memory
  • Head tilt
  • Blindspot
  • Blurred vision
  • Covering or closing one eye

Note that people with poor visual skills may act out, avoid reading, and consequently have low self-esteem. Improving their visual function will do more than just help with academic or work performance — it can change how they view themselves and improve their self-confidence and self-esteem.

How Did Vision Therapy Come About?

child reading 640×350Vision therapy has been used by practitioners for over 150 years! It was originally developed by ophthalmologists searching for a non-surgical alternative to treat strabismus (eye turn). These ophthalmologists created a series of visual exercises called “orthoptics”, meaning  “straightening of eye”.

While orthoptics was effective in straightening the patients’ eyes, it didn’t improve other symptoms of visual dysfunction, such as tracking problems, poor depth-perception, focusing, and processing issues.

In the mid-twentieth century, an innovative group of optometrists realized that for vision therapy to be effective, vision must be viewed as much more than a simple mechanical neuro-muscular system. They then went on to develop and expand vision therapy into the successful method of visual improvement it is today. This new form of vision therapy has been giving patients a whole new way of interacting with the world.

History of Vision Therapy from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Call The Vision Therapy Centre at Shelburne Primary EyeCare to schedule a functional eye exam and determine whether vision therapy can help you or your children improve vision skills for increased success and a  higher quality of life.

Dr. Colette Whiting and Dr. Sandra Gillis-Kennedy provides vision therapy and other services to patients in Shelburne, , Melancthon, Alliston, Collingwood, and throughout Dufferin County.