Vision Therapy for Amblyopia
Amblyopia or “lazy eye” is a neuro-developmental vision condition that begins in early childhood. It can also develop in people as a result of a traumatic brain injury or neurological condition. Those with amblyopia tend to have reduced eyesight in one eye, even when wearing corrective glasses or contacts. If left untreated, this condition can adversely impact a child’s success in work, school, sports, and friendships, which in turn may affect their self-image and mental health.
Traditionally, patching the better-seeing eye was the only method used to treat amblyopia. However, it is very uncomfortable, has limited results past a certain age, and does not develop the patient’s normal binocular vision or depth perception.
Vision therapy helps improve the amblyope’s visual abilities through a series of personalized exercises to enhance eye coordination, depth perception and reduce suppression (where the brain inhibits — suppresses — blurred or double vision by ignoring the image of one of the eyes).
Speak with Dr. Sophie Jobin from the Eye Health Centre and discover how vision therapy can develop the vision skills needed for a successful future.
What is Amblyopia?
Research has shown that amblyopia is caused by the brain’s inability to use both eyes as a team. As a result, the brain actively ignores the incoming information from one of the eyes. Further to poor visual acuity, those with amblyopia are prone to difficulties with depth perception, eye movements related to reading, and visual decision making when driving.
A “lazy eye” is not at all lazy or weak.
A lazy eye is likely to be just as strong as the other eye, but because of impaired binocular vision, the signals from the amblyopic eye have been turned off.
It is important to note that a child with amblyopia can show no symptoms. It is therefore imperative to undergo functional eye exams to identify whether the child has or is at risk of developing amblyopia, particularly if a child is frequently squinting, or shutting one eye, or if problems arise in reading or maintaining visual focus. Amblyopia is treatable at any age, although the earlier the problem is found and treated, the more successful the outcome tends to be.
What Are the Symptoms of Amblyopia?
- Squinting or shutting an eye
- Impaired depth perception (3D)
- Poor eye-hand coordination
- Tripping and/or balance problems
- Trouble with micro eye movement
- Slower reading speed and comprehension
How Does Vision Therapy Treat Amblyopia?
Vision therapy improves the patient’s visual acuity, binocular vision, visual processing abilities, reading fluency and depth perception.
It consists of individually prescribed and monitored exercises aimed at developing visual skills and processing, made up of regular in-office appointments, and (often) a series of assigned daily exercises. The length of the program can range from several weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the diagnosis, and patient compliance.
Amblyopia Treatment for Adults
Vision therapy effectively treats amblyopia in both adults and children. Because vision therapy relies on the neuroplasticity of the brain, and adults generally have less neuroplasticity than children, this treatment method takes longer in the older demographic. The flip side is that adults tend to comply with the exercise regimen more consistently. Regardless of age, patients can and do obtain radical improvements in vision and binocular function through effective vision therapy.
Vision Therapy Exercises and Equipment for Amblyopia
Vision therapy makes use of lenses, prisms, filters, occluders, and other specialized equipment. This encourages the eyes to compensate and is referred to as passive vision therapy. Beyond that, a series of active exercises are used to retrain how the brain interacts and interprets visual inputs. Over the past few years, advanced digital therapies (including virtual reality devices) have turned traditional vision therapy activities into new, interactive and exciting exercises to improve accommodation (focusing), fixation, saccades, pursuits (eye-tracking) and spatial skills (eye-hand coordination).
At Eye Health Centre, Dr. Sophie Jobin and our vision therapists treat amblyopia with proven office-based vision therapy for optimal results. All of our sessions are one-on-one (therapist-to-patient), and are conducted under doctor supervision. We help patients develop a binocular vision and depth perception by making use of the latest technology and methods, thus ensuring that the treatment is effective yet enjoyable. Our personalized vision therapy program is designed for people of all ages.
Do you or someone you know have amblyopia? Get in touch with us today and we’ll offer you a highly effective vision therapy program for an enhanced quality of life.
We serve patients from St. Albert, Edmonton, Spruce Grove, Fort Saskatchewan, and throughout Alberta.