Vision therapy is nowadays regarded as one of the most successful methods of treatment for several vision system dysfunctions, such as lazy eye/amblyopia, accommodation issues, and others.
However, performing vision therapy can be tricky and it can quickly derail the enthusiasm for performing daily or weekly tasks by the young patients. We must take notice of several details and address them in a comprehensive manner.
- Determining Patient’s Level
Before we can start with vision therapy we must first understand what the level is at which the patient’s vision is currently performing. A comprehensive eye exam is, therefore, a prerequisite; however, it is not enough. We must both understand where he or she is at, as well as the range in which it can still perform well.
- Patient’s Frustration Level
If you ever played video games, you know what we are talking about. You finally start getting a grasp on what you have to do when the difficulty level jumps and you start having difficulties progressing. People like to have a feeling of progress and accomplishment, and this desire is especially present with today’s children who are used to instant gratification. For successful vision therapy we must constantly try to push the lazy eye a little bit further every time, but never to the point where a person is just not able to perform anymore and starts feeling frustration, which is counter-productive in the end and may cause the patient to stop performing vision therapy altogether.
- Use of Positive Reinforcement
When the patient is performing their therapy, we must stimulate them further with positive reinforcement. Sometimes an encouragement and a compliment can work magic, while other times we must bribe them with small tokens or rewards. We will talk more about how you can stimulate children to perform their daily therapies in the weeks to come, since this is one of the main elements of gamified methods of vision therapy, such as AmblyoPlay.
- Effective Training Level
After we have established the positive reinforcement and the correct level at which therapies are performed, we must find the correct level at which we can continuously enhance the performance through difficulty of the treatment. It is a sweet spot between the patient’s level and their frustration level. Given that therapy is working, one should expect that both levels would increase.
- Let Them Understand
This one might as well be put under number one since it is absolutely essential. Patients should be aware of what they should expect. Patients and eye care specialists should establish clear goals (what the patient can expect if they perform as instructed) and strategies (how these goals will be achieved) of vision therapy. Only this way will the patients clearly know why they have to put themselves through intense daily therapies.
Based on these steps it is clear that one of the possibilities for successful vision therapy could be methods using game mechanics. Game mechanics (or gamification) use precisely these steps: they provide instant rewards for progress, the difficulty is constantly adapted to the current level and it increases constantly (but not linearly to sustain a feeling of improvement for a longer period while avoiding the frustration of hitting a difficulty ‘wall’). AmblyoPlay has sprung out as a potential solution precisely because doctors and eye care specialists mentioned lack of motivation for home-based exercises as one of the main issues with lazy eye/amblyopia treatment.
Do you have any other steps you would include in this whole process? What are the issues you face? Let us know at [email protected]!