Are you visually uncomfortable during part of your day? Do you dislike 3-D movies and you “don’t get” what everyone else sees? Do you have poor depth perception, trouble tracking a fast moving target, or are you visually “slow”? Does your child have an eye-turn, or does your child
learn well when listening but yet underperforms in the classroom and struggles with visual learning? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, the eyes may be part of the problem and vision therapy may be part of the solution.
Vision Therapy is the area of eye care dedicated to enhancing the quality of your life by identifying and treating visual problems that interfere with visual performance.
Hannu Laukkanen, OD, MEd, FAAO
Chief of Vision Therapy Services
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision therapy treatment is a very effective treatment for many common eye disorders that cause visual discomfort and inefficiency, such as lazy eye, crossed-eyes, eye focusing, teaming, tracking, and many other visual problems. Vision therapy is a valuable adjunctive treatment to the use of lenses and prisms to compensate for visual conditions.
Typical complaints associated with vision problems that may be helped by vision therapy include: eyestrain, sore eyes, seeing double, having to tilt the head or cover an eye to see better, blurry and variable vision, eye fatigue (especially after near work such as reading), having to squint, blink, or rub the eyes too much, having to hold reading material too close, reading avoidance, omitting words, losing one’s place frequently, diminishing comprehension the longer one reads, and attention that always wanders during reading, etc. Without a thorough vision evaluation, children with vision disorders can be misdiagnosed with attention problems. Undetected vision problems may contribute to difficulties with school achievement.
Certain vision problems (such as “lazy eye”) from childhood are not associated with complaints and require special testing to discover. Other childhood vision problems can result in delayed vision development that may be associated with behaviors such as: skipping or repeating lines during reading, having to use a finger to keep from losing place, difficulty copying, poor handwriting, poor distance judgment, clumsiness, not seeing obvious likenesses and differences, persistent letter reversal difficulties, slowness learning letters and words, not being able to remember what was just seen before, very slow reading, and other problems that may prevent a child from achieving his or her potential.
Past injury to the brain can result in vision problems that can persist for years afterwards. Visual complaints following brain injury include: visual clarity that fluctuates during the day, over-sensitivity to normal light levels, eye-stinging, poor two-eyed depth perception, distorted vision—especially side vision, print that that seems to jiggle during reading, reduced reading comprehension, difficulty scrolling when using a computer, sensitivity to fluorescent lighting, visual motion sickness, and aversion to crowded visually busy places, etc.
The great news is that visual comfort, efficiency, and performance can be normalized and enhanced with vision therapy treatment. Because so many human visual behaviors are acquired and learned, they can also be improved through structured therapeutic procedures. These improvements have been well documented in the scientific literature. A far-reaching selection of therapeutic tools, technology, and software are available to enhance a broad range of visual skills. Visual skills that can be enriched include: focusing, eye-teaming coordination, precision and accuracy of eye movements, eye-hand coordination, two-eyed depth perception, visual-spatial awareness and accuracy, visual information processing, visual memory, and form perception.
If you or someone you know suffers from visual discomfort, visual inefficiency, or visual information processing difficulty, consider a vision therapy evaluation. Vision therapy evaluations are available in our Forest Grove and downtown Portland clinics. For further information about vision therapy or to schedule an evaluation, please contact a Pacific University College of Optometry Vision Therapy Coordinator (Forest Grove: 503-352-2174 / Portland: 503-352-2504). If you prefer vision therapy follow up with a private practitioner, please contact us for list of vision therapy providers.
If vision therapy is recommended after evaluation, the treatment program will be carefully explained and initiated only after you choose to participate.
Skilled optometric interns and residents with expertise in vision therapy provide care. Licensed attending doctors oversee all clinical care. Some conditions can be effectively treated in a relatively short time period, but more complex conditions may require treatment programs that may extend over several months. The most effective treatment requires dedication to the program, compliance with the prescribed therapy, plus close professional supervision. Clinical treatment sessions are typically on a weekly basis. Home-based therapeutic activities are prescribed to reinforce and build the desired visual skills. Treatment is a gradual process and periodic assessment of treatment progress is an essential element of our clinical care.