SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Not all vision problems can be corrected by spectacles or contact lenses.
- Vision therapy can treat amblyopia (lazy eye), eye alignment problems (turned eye or squint), eye coordination problems, poorly sustained near focus, inadequate eye-hand coordination and immature perceptual development.
- Each therapy program is designed to suit the specific needs of the individual.
On this page
What is vision therapy?
Vision therapy is a program that aims to improve a person’s visual abilities. It uses a variety of ways – such as eye exercises, testing, occlusion (patching) lenses and prisms – to treat a range of visual problems.
Vision therapy may be used to treat problems such as:
- amblyopia (lazy eye)
- eye alignment and coordination problems (including turned eyes or squints)
- poor focus
- inadequate eye-hand coordination.
Each program is designed to suit the specific needs of the individual.
How vision works
Vision is the process of deriving meaning from what is seen. It is more than simply the ability to distinguish fine details (visual acuity). Vision also involves:
- accommodation (focusing)
- convergence (eye aiming)
- binocularity (eye coordination)
- fixation and eye movement abilities
- eye-hand coordination
- visual form perception.
Vision continues to develop after birth and is influenced by the visual environment and someone's experience.
Vision problems can exist even if you have healthy eyes and can see clearly. Difficulties may occur in your eye muscle control and coordination.
If you have vision problems, you may experience visual discomfort when performing visually demanding activities.
How does vision therapy treat eye problems?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approximately half the Australian population has some vision problem that requires treatment.
While most people have refractive errors (such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia), in some, their eye problems can be improved by vision therapy.
Although vision therapy is available to people of all ages, it is more effective in children and young adults.
Vision therapy for children and young people
One common problem in children is they may have difficulty coordinating their eyes. To see something clearly, both eyes must be aimed correctly and focused at the right distance.
Any problems with aiming or focusing the eyes can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- intermittent double vision
- blurred vision
Children with these problems often do not complain about them, but may simply avoid tasks (such as reading), which are difficult or cause discomfort.
An optometrist may suggest a program of vision therapy to improve eye coordination and focusing.
What does a vision therapy program involve?
A vision therapy program (also known as visual training) is designed by an optometrist to meet individual needs. So, your program may differ from someone else’s.
Vision therapy is typically used to improve the coordination and control of eye movements and a program may include:
- diagnostic tests
- training procedures
- use of lenses and prisms – these may be integral to the successful treatment of your vision problem.
The frequency of optometrist visits, amount of home training and duration of the therapy will depend on the nature and severity of your eye problem.
Sometimes you will work with the optometrist in their office and then other times, you may have work to do at home (such as activities and exercises).
Regular practice is important to achieve the best results. Therapy will teach you how to have better eye control to improve your understanding of what you are seeing and reading. You may find that therapy gives you greater confidence and improves your performance in daily activities – such as at school, university, or work.
Where to get help
- Your GP (doctor)
- Optometry Australia – to find an optometrist
- Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists Tel. (03) 9614 3400