If your optometrist suggests vision therapy for your child, you might assume that they mean an at-home kit and exercises such as the ones that were popular at the turn of the century. These kits have been shown to overstate their effectiveness and have little scientific evidence to back up their claims, so you should be wary of them. However, your child's optometrist is recommending something entirely different when they suggest optometrist-led vision therapy. Below are five of the main differences between vision therapy and DIY vision exercises.
Vision Therapy Is Recommended After a Physical Exam of Your Child's Eyes
For the most part, vision training focuses on alignment issues your child's eyes might have, such as Amblyopia or Strabismus, and eye movement disorders. Occasionally, it has been used to correct focusing disorders as well. In order to know that your child needs vision therapy, they will need an accurate, thorough diagnosis of their vision problems. This is because some anatomical issues that cause vision problems cannot be corrected by vision therapy and require surgery or other physical interventions.
Alternatively, vision exercises are recommended for anyone, without taking into consideration what may be causing their vision problems. This can lead to ineffective exercises and frustration.
Vision Therapy Is Designed Specifically for Your Child
Vision therapy involves progressive exercises that are carried out with a vision therapist. Although your child's therapist may assign some exercises to be completed between sessions, most of the work will be done in the optometrist's office, where your child's progress can be monitored and specific exercises can be taught and adjusted to fit your child's needs.
DIY vision exercises offer a one-size-fits-all approach to vision correction. This leaves you and your child in charge of deciding when to progress with new exercises and whether effective progress is being made. Your child may end up straining their eyes by attempting exercises that are not helpful to them or do not address their needs.
Vision Therapy Tends to Be Used Most With Children
Vision therapy tends to be recommended for children. This is because many vision problems and behavioral problems associated with vision problems become apparent during childhood. Many children with undiagnosed vision problems may have trouble concentrating in school or reading, which may lead to further investigation into their vision. However, most adults have already had corrective measures or have found ways to cope with their vision problems, making them less likely to engage in vision therapy.
DIY exercises are generally marketed towards adults who want to stop using glasses, not children with a variety of vision problems. This is because they are advertised as strengthening eyes that have grown weaker throughout your life.
Your Child May Still Need Glasses After Vision Therapy
If your child has anatomical issues that prevent them from focusing correctly, they may still need glasses after vision therapy. While the therapy may help their eyes work together and track objects, allowing your child to see properly with glasses, it may not be able to fully correct their issues focusing over a distance, and most optometrists are upfront about this reality.
DIY exercises tend to focus on ending your need for glasses rather than acknowledging that you may still need glasses or other physical corrective measures.
Your Insurance May Cover Vision Therapy
While your insurance will most likely not cover the expense of an elective, DIY course, many insurance programs will cover the cost of necessary vision therapy as long as the therapy is prescribed to correct a physical vision ailment and not only to correct a behavioral or educational problem.
If your child's optometrist suggests vision therapy for your child, it is important that you understand what they mean and meet with a vision therapist to answer your questions. Click here to discover more on vision therapy.