Good vision requires the eyesight, visual pathways, and brain to work together. A problem in any of the mentioned above leads to difficulty in reading, writing, and processing information.
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision therapy is a program that is helpful in treating visual problems including strabismus, binocular vision problems, and lazy eyes. It is a customized and personalized program that improves and treats visual skills, train the child’s visual system for accurate and easy interpretation.
Vision therapy helps in improving brain eye communication and effective operation for a child’s visual system. It targets enhancing visual skills including eye tracking, focusing, convergence, eye-hand coordination, processing speed, and more.
Vision therapy involves exercises and usage of devices that can help in improving vision.
A study has found that eye exercises help in convergence problems and help in improving visual field deficits and stereoscopic skills following brain injury.(1)
Another study was performed and it was found that participants who completed eye exercises were more accurate in the rapid serial visual presentation exercise than the control group.(2)
Who Needs Vision Therapy?
The patients with the following visual challenges need vision therapy.
- Learning-Related Visual Problems: These are the problems that result from poor eye teaming, focusing, tracking, and visualizing skills.
- Strabismus or Crossed Eye: Crossed eye can be easily treated with vision therapy and is a successful alternative to glasses, patching, and conventional surgery. It has excellent results at an early age but can be successful for a person of any age.
- Stress-Induced Vision Problem: In today’s world most of the work is done in front of the computer screen. This increases the patient with eyestrain, headache and other visual disturbances.
- Visual Rehabilitation In Those With Stroke, Brain Injury, Developmental Delays, Multiple Sclerosis, Etc.: A person’s vision can be disturbed due to trauma to the nervous system, which includes whiplash injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries, and stroke.
- Sports Vision Improvement: Vision therapy is used by athletes to improve vision, eye-hand coordination, visual reaction time, eye teaming, and focusing.
7 Vision Therapy Exercises to Improve Eyesight
There are a few common devices and exercises that help in enhancing eyesight.
Pencil Push-Up Therapy
This type is helpful in correcting binocular vision disorders like strabismus. It is done by holding a pencil at arm’s length. Draw the pencil close to the nose keeping a clear focus. The exercise is repeated as the pencil begins to appear as a double image.
This exercise is suggested to be done several times a day.
A study found that pencil pushups exercise proved to be an effective therapy for symptomatic convergence insufficiency.(3)
It is a vision therapy computer-assisted program that involves stress vengeance, eye movements, visual information processing, and accommodation.
Prism or Lens Fixation
A person is made to view an object through different lenses of varying powers, prism, and orientations.
The exercise helps in a clear vision of things and objects that are close or at a nearby distance.
Lazy eye or amblyopia is a condition that occurs when the brain ignores image signals from the weaker eye, causing a further loss of vision from the amblyopic eye.
Patching the stronger eye reduces the stimuli and forces the brain to accept the visual cues from the weaker eye.
This is a 20/20/20 rule and is for individuals who spend long hours focusing on the computer screens.
It suggests, after 20 minutes of computer usage, resting the eye on an object placed 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Brock string exercise helps in improving eye coordination.
During this vision therapy exercise, a person needs to sit in front of a long string and colored beads. One end of the string is secured to a motionless object or another person can hold it. The other end of the string is held just below the nose. Place one bead on the string and look at the bead with both eyes open.
If both the eyes are working properly, a person will be able to see the bead and two strings in an X.
On closing one eye, one string will disappear. This means the eye is suppressing. If two beads and two strings are visible, the eyes are not converged at the bead.
Barrel cards can be a good exercise for exotropia, a type of strabismus. During the exercise, three red barrels of increasing size are drawn on one side of the card. It is repeated in green on the other side. The card is then held against the nose so that the largest barrel is far away. A person is asked to stare at the barrel until it becomes one image with both colors and the other two images are doubled. The gaze is maintained for 5 seconds.
The Outcome of Vision Therapy
After vision therapy a person is able to move eyes, align, fixate and focus altogether, and a whole new world of vision is discovered.
With successful treatment, the patient is able to:
- Learn easily
- Increase reading level and speed
- Spend less time on homework
- Is able to follow moving objects
- Easily views nearby and distant objects
- Visualizing mental images becomes easier
There is not much evidence on eye exercises improving vision in general. If there is blurry vision, eye strain, red eyes, or eye pain, it is important to consult a doctor.