We encounter many families who are unaware of how vision therapy can be used in replacement of – or in conjunction with – several surgical procedures that are used to correct eye alignment problems. As optometrists and vision therapy practitioners, we know the value and ability of vision therapy first hand.
Eye alignment surgery is relatively common in both children and adults. In many cases, vision therapy could have prevented the need for alignment surgery. In cases where vision therapy may have been insufficient on its own, it acts as an ideal complement to surgery and drastically shortens recovery times.
Vision therapy is a non-surgical process that can have tremendous benefits for children and adults. While there are a lot of ways that vision therapy can help an adult, for the purposes of this post we’re going to focus on how it helps children- specifically, how vision therapy helps correct eye alignment problems in young children.
Eye Alignment Problems Vision Therapy Can Address
Proper eye alignment is essential for overall eye health. In addition to the impacts eye alignment has on your appearance (and self-esteem), proper alignment encourages ideal eye teaming and coordination.
In kids, we tend to see two alignment problems: strabismus, and amblyopia.
What is Strabismus?
Strabismus is usually referred to as a “crossed eye”. When a child has strabismus, one (or rarely, both) of their eyes appear out of alignment. Approximately 4% of children will have pediatric strabismus.
To clarify, it’s normal for a newborn to have misaligned eyes. In most kids, the alignment problem will resolve itself by the time the child is six months old. If the child is older than six months and alignment problems continue to appear, even if infrequent, strabismus is likely to blame.
How Vision Therapy Helps
Vision therapy utilizes several exercises as well as eye-patching. The process strengthens the mind/muscle connection between the brain and the eye alignment/focusing muscles. It also teaches the brain how to better utilize the strabismic eye and utilize both eyes as a team.
Vision therapy is quite effective in addressing strabismus.
What is Amblyopia?
Amblyopia is usually referred to as a “lazy eye” and is the result of the brain favoring one eye over the other. This favoritism can be due to several reasons, though it’s usually due to the brain choosing to prioritize the information from the other (good eye) due to the amblyopic eye being unable to see properly (because of an alignment problem, or a vision problem such as a refractive error or congenital cataract).
Approximately 3% of children have amblyopia.
How Vision Therapy Helps
Vision therapy utilizes a variety of exercises, techniques, and some eye patching to address amblyopia. In particular, vision therapy emphasizes binocular vision treatment. Eye patching is used as minimally as possible in order to encourage patient compliance.
Visit Our Vision Therapy Clinic
We welcome you and your child to our vision therapy clinic whenever you are ready to learn more about vision therapy and the benefits it can provide. Our optometrists will assess you or your child and determine your individualized needs.
All vision therapy programs are customized for the needs of the patient. To get the process going, schedule an appointment and pay us a visit!