At Emerald Park Eye Care, we are firm believers that Vision Therapy changes lives! After attending some courses and seeing improvement while working with several patients, Dr. Machmer is so excited to now offer Office-Based Vision Therapy. The benefits that can be realized through Vision Therapy are significant, life-long, and life changing. Dr. Machmer has found a new passion and renewed inspiration in providing Vision Therapy and welcomes all new Vision Therapy patients.
What is Vision Therapy?
Optometric Vision Therapy is a treatment plan used to correct or improve specific dysfunctions of the vision system. It includes, but is not limited to, the treatment of strabismus, amblyopia, accommodation, ocular motor function and visual-perceptual-motor abilities.
Vision Therapy may be recommended based on findings during a routine eye exam, on the advice of a teacher or school psychologist, if the parents have concerns about reading or academic abilities, or to improve athletic performance.
Who can benefit from Vision Therapy?
Patients of ALL ages can benefit. It can help the struggling reader, athletes who are interested in improving their performances, or people whose eyes don't work together (either because of an eye-turn or a "lazy eye"). Those with Autism, Dyslexia, or Attention Deficit Disorders are often found to have significant visual problems. Office-Based Vision Therapy is often an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to treating patients with learning problems or difficulty in school.
Vision is a learned process. Vision Therapy works on improving the following skills:
- The ability to follow a moving object smoothly, accurately and effortlessly.
- The ability to aim the eyes together in order to track smoothly.
- The ability to change focus quickly and clearly from distance to near and back again.
- The ability to use the two eyes together as a team.
- The ability to see and recognize objects with just a short look.
- The ability of the eye and brain to perceive depth.
- The ability to make more accurate directed movements (improve eye-hand co-ordination and body awareness).
What are some signs that my child may benefit from Vision Therapy?
The following is a list of just some of the signs that Vision Therapy may be right for your child. If you are unsure, or if you feel that your child is not reaching their potential in school, scheduling an assessment is a good first step.
- Difficulty with near work
- Avoidance of near work
- Reading below grade level
- Poor reading comprehension
- Headaches or eye strain, particularly toward the end of the day
- Fatigue or falling asleep when reading
- Covering one eye with a hand or arm (resting head on the desk)
- Closing one eye
- Skipping words or lines when reading
- Inability to write on a straight line or begin each line directly beneath the previous line
- Letter reversals (especially after mid-grade 2)
- Difficulty with balance
- Poor eye-hand co-ordination
- Difficulty with spelling
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long will Vision Therapy take?
Vision Therapy will consist of weekly in-office sessions of approximately 45 minutes each. The number of sessions required will depend somewhat on the particular case and on how quickly progress is being made, however, an estimate of 9-12 months is reasonable in most cases.
My child has a lazy eye/eye-turn and I was told patching and surgery are the only options, might Vision Therapy help?
Absolutely! While patching and surgery are still common practices, they are not necessarily the best option. Research shows that patching on its own is rarely successful at promoting equal vision between the two eyes, and it does not teach the eyes to work together. Similarly, while surgery can help line the eyes up cosmetically, many studies have shown that surgery does not improve visual function (i.e. after surgery, even if the eyes are lined up well, the eyes will not work as a team). In some cases, surgery may still be a good option, but surgery can often be avoided with Vision Therapy, and in fact Vision Therapy provides a functional improvement rather than just a cosmetic one. If you have any questions about this, or would like to see any of the research in this regard, please call our office at 306-585-2424.
If your child has already had surgery, Vision Therapy is almost always still recommended because the eyes need to be taught how to work together.
I was told that lazy eyes and eye turns can't be improved after a certain age, is that true?
Thankfully this is an old wives' tale with no factual basis. Unfortunately, this is still a prevalent belief. The brain is a remarkable thing, and neuroplasticity (the ability to "rewire" the brain) is much more dynamic than was previously believed. A person is never too old (or too young) to improve their visual function through Vision Therapy! A great resource on this topic is the book "Fixing My Gaze" by Sue Berry – a middle-aged neurobiologist who gained the ability to use both eyes txogether through Vision Therapy.
How much does Vision Therapy cost?
Naturally, this is a frequently asked question. The total cost of Vision Therapy varies depending on the diagnosis and type of Vision Therapy required. The range is from $3500-6000 for the complete course of Vision Therapy. This fee includes all the weekly sessions required as well as all materials needed for home practice. There is a $350 fee for the initial assessment (which takes 1.5-2 hours to complete).
While we understand that this is certainly a significant investment, we are also very confident in the results that will follow and in the improvement you will see in your child. Expected results include (but are my no means limited to!):
- Improved reading ability
- Neater printing/writing and improved spelling
- Improved eye movement control
- Improved attention
- Decreased behavioural problems
- Improved hand-eye co-ordination/sports performance
- Improved self-confidence
What is the difference between computerized Vision Therapy and In-Office Vision Therapy?
In-Office Vision Therapy uses a holistic approach to address how the eyes and body work together. In addition to working on eye movements, we also work on body movement and are very active in the therapy room. Vision is such an integral part of our whole world, and is absolutely key in how we move as well (vision directs movement). In-Office Vision Therapy is very individualized to suit the needs of each unique patient and is tailored to their age, diagnosis, needs, and abilities.
Computerized Vision Therapy is a pre-determined sequence of exercises on the computer aimed at helping the eyes work together. Unfortunately, this type of therapy does not take movement into account and does not cater the therapy to each patient as an individual. Studies have shown that this type of therapy is not as effective as in-office therapy.
For these reasons, only In-Office Vision Therapy is offered at our office.
What should I do if I think my child would benefit from Vision Therapy?
You've already done the first step – researching it! The next step is to schedule a Binocular Vision and Vision Information Processing Assessment. That can be done by calling our office at 306-585-2424. Once that appointment has been completed, Dr. Machmer will discuss the recommended course of action and we can put a plan into motion!