Vision therapy is a highly effective, non-surgical treatment for several vision problems – most of which cannot be corrected with eyeglasses or surgery alone. Vision therapy is commonly used to treat convergence insufficiency, convergence excess, accommodation dysfunction, suppression, double vision, amblyopia, and eye turns. Vision therapy is effective for both children and adults.
Studies have shown that vision therapy is most effective when provided using in-office, one-on-one treatment sessions. The results, or treatment outcome, and the length of prescribed treatment are determined by several factors:
- The post-graduate (residency) training of the prescribing doctor
- Accuracy of the initial diagnosis
- Appropriate determination of candidacy for treatment
- Type of vision therapy provided
- Professional degree, training, and state licensure of the therapist
In the U.S., vision therapy is most commonly prescribed by optometrists. Currently there are no national guidelines or regulations governing which optometrists can prescribe, oversee, or provide vision therapy services. This means even an optometrist with no formal, post-graduate education can provide vision therapy. A word of caution. Do your homework when considering vision therapy. Look for an optometrist who is residency trained in neuro-optometry, binocular vision, or vision therapy. Look for licensed therapists.
Seeking the care of a residency-trained optometrist ensures you will receive an accurate diagnosis and evaluation of candidacy. Not everyone is a candidate for vision therapy. Residency-trained optometrists determine candidacy by considering age-norm test results, the developmental level of the child, and utilize standardized testing and evaluation methods.
As you compare vision therapy programs you will hear several different terms, behavioral vision therapy, developmental vision therapy, and research-based / medical model vision therapy. The eye doctors at Artisan Pediatric Eyecare endorse only research-based, medical model vision therapy and exclusively recommend Advanced Vision Therapy Center for their patients.
Different Kinds of Visual Therapists
Vision therapy providers employ different types of vision therapists. It is important to know the difference and scrutinize the professional degree, training and state licensure of the therapist. Let's compare the different types of therapists:
- Vision therapists: This describes a person who has no formal (university level) education in the field of therapy. Due to their lack of education and qualifications, they are unable to be licensed by the state or be credentialed by insurance companies.
- Certified vision therapists: This title is a misnomer. Currently no nationally accredited academic organization certifies vision therapists. There is a fee for membership organization that allows individuals to complete an open book test and upon passing are allowed to call themselves certified vision therapists. However, just like vision therapists, formal (university level) education in the field of therapy is not required. Due to their lack of education and qualifications, they are unable to be licensed by the state or be credentialed by insurance companies.
- Occupational therapists working in the field of vision therapy: This describes a person who has completed at minimum a Bachelor's Degree in Occupational Therapy. They have a state license and can be credentialed by insurance companies. In addition, they have completed training in the field of vision therapy and most importantly work under the supervision of an optometrist who specializes in vision therapy.
When choosing a vision therapy provider, choose the best-- A residency-trained optometrist for the most accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. A licensed therapist working under the direction of a residency-trained optometrist for the most effective vision therapy treatment program.