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How Does Vision Therapy Work?

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What is vision therapy

In this blog post, we will talk about what vision therapy is, what is it based on, and how does it work. We invite you to find out why vision therapy improves your visual system beyond making sure that you see clearly and have healthy eyes. The latter is an important starting point to evaluate your vision but might represent just the first pieces of the visual puzzle.

Would you like to know what the other pieces are and make sure you get the right service for your (child’s) condition? We will share answers to this question with you and we will also educate you when AmblyoPlay is the right choice. Let’s find out how does vision therapy work!

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is a specialized form of therapy that involves a series of exercises and activities designed to improve and strengthen visual skills and abilities. Vision therapy sometimes also refers to as visual therapy or orthoptics. It is typically conducted under the guidance of an optometrist or vision therapist.

It might happen that your eyes are healthy and you can see clearly, but something is still not working. In other words, structurally nothing is wrong, but functionally it is. A child can have perfect eyesight and still has visual problems that lead to struggle, because perfect eyesight does not equal perfect vision.

Vision therapy is often used to address problems such as amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (eye turn), convergence insufficiency, and other vision-related difficulties.

What is the Goal of Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy focuses on the function of the visual system to improve binocular functionhow the two eyes work together.

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The goal is to improve the efficiency of patients’ visual skills, for example to use both eyes together easily, to track easily, to develop efficient depth perception skills and to integrate them with sensory or motor areas of processing.

Overall, vision therapy aims to enhance visual performance, alleviate visual discomfort, and improve the quality of life for individuals with visual challenges.

Regular Eye Examination: A Starting Point of Vision Therapy Evaluation

The starting point of the vision therapy evaluation is a regular eye exam that answers the question: ”Does the eye see (clearly) and is the eye healthy?”

Regular eye exams are important for vision therapy evaluation.

An optometrist or other eye care professional checks for the following conditions:

1. Any type of refractive error:
Nearsightedness or myopia where you can’t see well in the distance
Farsightedness or hyperopia where your vision is blurry at near
Stigmatism where your eyeball is shaped more like a football than a basketball or
A combination of nearsightedness/farsightedness with stigmatism

2. Presbyopia which means you need reading glasses.

3. Whether you are seeing clearly and whether you might need any interventions such as glasses or contact lenses.

4. If the structure of the eye is healthy.

5. Assesses if someone is a good fit for vision therapy.

Evaluation for Vision Therapy

Visual therapy evaluation goes beyond the basic eye exam. It checks your (a) visual gathering system and (b) processing and integration system.

In vision therapy evaluation, our goal is to understand how the two eyes are working together (gathering, processing, and integrating with other systems) so that you have a clear and steady perception of the world.

Vision should not only be clear, but also comfortable.

The vision therapy evaluation continues with checking your gathering system which helps us understand how you gather visual information. If any of the following systems are not working, then the visual information is entering the system jumbled. This means that it is going to take time and energy for the visual system to unjumble it and to then process it.

What is vision therapy?
Source: Our provider’s clinic Ocuvista

The Gathering System

Within the gathering system, the following is checked:

The Ocular-Motor System

The ocular-motor system should work in conjunction to track and scan quickly and accurately:

1. Fixation: to see how steady you can keep your eye on a target.
2. Saccades: to see whether you are jumping from one target to another. This skill is important in reading or driving.
3. Pursuits: refers to the ability to accurately and easily track something without loosing focus (important when going from one object to another, e. g. in reading when you track the line and smoothly and accurately move to the next line starting on the left).

The Focusing Muscle

The focusing muscle is observed to understand:

1. The amplitude of the accommodation system which affects how much the muscle can hold and keep things clear
2. The facility of the accommodative system which determines how quickly it can change focus from distance to near

Example: Intermittent blurred vision would be discovered if you can change focus quickly, but cannot hold it long.

The Binocular Visual System

The binocular system is assessed to see how the two eyes work together.

Tool for assessing binocular visual function.


1. Visual posture is checked to see whether your eyes have a tendency to turn out, in or even to deviate vertically at distance or at near. 

This is not the same as a permanent eye turn, but it is just a tendency which your body has to compensate for. It helps us understand why some people have to work harder than the average person to keep things clear.

2. Vergence ranges which means the ability to keep things single and clear and to compensate for their visual posture. As long as you have the ability to compensate for your visual posture, it does not matter what the posture is like.

3. Break to recovery ratio at distance or near. Troubles in this field might result in a patient doing well at using their eyes for some time, but then they reach a point and they can’t recover – they need a break.

4. Near point of convergence is a simple and short test that helps understand when the two eyes stop working together and when they recover. To conduct this test a pen is put on the midline of the patient and slowly brought closer to the patient. They are asked to tell you when they see two images. This test has to be repeated and checked also when eyes are fatigued to see the differences.

5. Vergence facility meaning how quickly your eyes can go from convergence to divergence.

Processing and Integration System

The last part of the visual puzzle to be checked is your processing and integration system to answer the question: After all information comes in, what do we do with it?

After having understood the two eyes and how they process visual information, the visual therapist also check patient’s:

Visual Memory

Visual memory refers to the ability to remember and recall visual information. It involves the capacity to store and retrieve visual images, such as recognizing and remembering shapes, colors, or patterns.

Visual-Motor Integration

Visual-motor integration is the coordination between the visual system and the motor system. It involves the ability to process visual information and use it to guide and control motor movements. For example, when reading, visual-motor integration allows the eyes to track the text while the hand follows along to write or underline.

Auditory-Visual Integration

Auditory-visual integration refers to the ability to combine and process information from both the auditory (sound) and visual systems simultaneously. It involves integrating what we see with what we hear to form a complete understanding of our environment.

Laterality or Directionality Issues

Laterality refers to an individual’s awareness and understanding of their own body’s left and right sides, while directionality refers to the comprehension and differentiation of spatial directions such as up, down, left, and right.

Vision Therapy Proposes Individualized and Specialized Treatment Plans Using Diverse Methods and Tools

After the vision therapy evaluation, the therapist identifies which aspects of a patient’s visual efficiency is not up to par and determine a specific diagnosis if possible. They also decide on the emphasis of the treatment and determine which activities and aspects of VT should be used.

Through a tailored program of vision exercises, vision therapy aims to train and retrain the eyes and brain to work together more effectively, improving visual function, comfort, and efficiency.

The therapy may involve the use of specialized tools, such as lenses, prisms, filters, eye patches, marsden ball, brock string, and computer-based programs such as AmblyoPlay.

Even though eye patching still represents the treatment of choice for some diagnoses like amblyopia, video games allow for a better compliance rate which leads to better results.

Benefits of Video Games and Screen Time Concerns

In general, benefits of playing video games are the ability to respond quickly, to improve figure-ground skills (e.g., when picking up little pieces or choosing a target among a lot of visual information) that can be translated into academic skills and even to train visual concentration and pay attention for an extended period of time.

There might be some concerns about increased amount of screen time, especially for the young, so we would like to point out that we stand for a moderate use of digital VT tools. We also know that the downsides of not treating visual problems far exceeds any potential problems that can be caused with digital VT.

Who Could Benefit from Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is not limited only to young children, although improvements usually appear faster with them. Even AmblyoPlay users vary in age and report good results if they regularly use the program.

In general, researches show that about 25 % of the primary care patients need vision therapy to improve their overall vision skills.

Some experts say that actually everybody could use a little VT to improve their vision process. It is a learned process, so we can always improve our skills even though it is not necessary for everyone. It is important though to gear our visual systems up especially if we spend a lot of time in front of computes or other devices.

When is Vision Therapy Advised?

The sources of vision problems might be physical and easily noticed, but they can also be hidden on the outside. In the latter case, we can assume they exist after noticing common behaviours that appear with the intention to compensate for the original troubles or other symptoms of visual disorders, such as:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Squinting/eye rubbing
  • Dizziness/nausea after reading
  • Head tilting
  • Closing or covering an eye
  • Avoidance of near work (books, schoolwork)
  • Frequent loss of place
  • Reading problems (omits, inserts or re-reads words; poor comprehension)
  • Being smart in everything but school
  • Experiencing problems in athletic areas (not catching balls, clumsiness)

These symptoms of vision disorders are often a result of very common underlying causes that can be successfully treated with the use of AmblyoPlay:

  • Amblyopia or lazy eye (all forms, including bilateral)
  • Strabismus (Exotropia, Esotropia, including intermittent forms)
  • Convergence problems
  • Divergence problems
  • Focusing problems
  • Diplopia or double vision
  • Eye-teaming problems
  • Eye movement dysfunctions
  • Tracking problems
  • Saccadic movements
  • Accommodative dysfunction

How Long Does Vision Therapy Last?

The duration of vision therapy can vary depending on the individual and the specific visual issues being addressed. Regular sessions with a specialist are typically scheduled over a period of weeks or months, with home exercises often assigned to reinforce the progress made during in-office sessions.

It is similar with the use of AmblyoPlay app – our users use it for at least 6 months and up to a few years. This depends on their compliance, condition, age and other individual factors.

What is AmblyoPlay vision therapy?

What are the Benefits of VT with Video Games such as AmblyoPlay?

Among different visual abilities and skills that virtual VT can help improve are the following abilities:

  • to follow a moving object smoothly, accurately and effortlessly with both eyes while also performing other activities (thinking, talking, reading or listening)
  • to quickly and accurately fix the eyes on a series of stationary objects
  • to change focus quickly without blur from far to near and near to far
  • to team two eyes together
  • to see over a large area (periphery) while pointing the eyes straight ahead
  • to see and recognize objects in a short look
  • to see in depth.

There are also other conditions that our users report as beneficial:

  • trainings can be done from the comfort of your home
  • the cost of the vision therapy app subscription can lower the overall costs of your visual therapy treatment since you can get better results faster
  • it can be used even for those who cannot access a vision therapist (which we recommend nonetheless)
  • it is individualized thanks to its self-learning algorithm
AmblyoPlay offers personalization across three key pillars: age, problem, and progress.

Start Your Vision Therapy Here and Now!

Vision therapy is a valuable and effective approach for improving visual skills and addressing visual challenges. By targeting the function of the visual system, it aims to enhance visual performance and alleviate discomfort.

Through individualized and specialized treatment plans, vision therapy utilizes various exercises, activities, and tools to train and retrain the eyes and brain to work together more effectively.

While traditional methods like eye patching are still used, video game-based vision therapy programs like AmblyoPlay offer additional advantages, including convenience and better compliance rates.

With the ability to personalize training and address a wide range of visual issues, vision therapy, including digital tools, provides individuals of all ages with the opportunity to improve their visual abilities and enhance their overall quality of life.

Join AmblyoPlay!

Get your AmblyoPlay Vision Therapy today!

If you believe that you (or your child) could benefit from fun vision training exercises that are effective and make it easier to maintain our motivation to train regularly, we invite you to join our community by subscribing to the AmblyoPlay!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is vision therapy?

Vision therapy is a specialized form of therapy that involves a series of exercises and activities designed to improve and strengthen visual skills and abilities. It is typically conducted under the guidance of an optometrist or vision therapist.

Who could benefit from vision therapy?

Vision therapy is not limited only to young children, although improvements usually appear faster with them. Even AmblyoPlay users vary in age and report good results if they regularly use the program.

When is vision therapy advised?

The sources of vision problems might be physical and easily noticed, but they can also be hidden on the outside. Some of the symptoms include blurred or double vision, squinting/eye rubbing, dizziness or nausea after reading, head tilting, closing or covering an eye, avoidance of near work, etc.

How long does the vision therapy last?

The duration of vision therapy can vary depending on the individual and the specific visual issues being addressed. Regular sessions with a specialist are typically scheduled over a period of weeks or months, with home exercises often assigned to reinforce the progress made during in-office sessions.

Who is a vision therapist?

A vision therapist is a healthcare professional who specializes in the treatment and management of vision-related issues. Unlike optometrists or ophthalmologists who primarily focus on the health of the eyes and prescription of corrective lenses, vision therapists work on improving the way the eyes and brain work together.

What is the cost of vision therapy?

The cost of vision therapy varies widely based on factors such as location, duration, and therapist credentials. Insurance coverage may help, but it’s essential to check specific policies. Costs can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Consult with a vision care professional for personalized information and to explore payment options.

Sources:
https://www.buzzsprout.com/717243/12982417-back-to-basics-what-is-a-vision-therapy-evaluation
https://www.buzzsprout.com/717243/10980313-what-is-vision-therapy-with-dr-dan-press
https://twinforksoptometry.com/vision-eye-care/vision-therapy/

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Why Do We Suggest a Minimum Time of 6 Months for Success?

Based on the data from over 15,000 patients using AmblyoPlay, improvements start within 4 months, while optimal results take anywhere between 6-18 months on average. The duration of required training depends on the patient’s age, the severity of the problem, accompanying diseases, and adherence to the training program.