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Therapy for Vision Problems  

Types of Therapy

There are a number of different types of interventions that can be used to help vision problems. Correcting a vision problem will not teach children to read. The goal is to correct vision problems that are interfering with vision so that an educator can teach a child to read.

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy includes many different kinds of treatments for children with vision problems. Vision therapy is generally offered by optometrists with special training in the care of children. Vision therapy is not offered by all optometrists or by ophthalmologists. Many pediatricians strongly oppose the use of vision therapy. They believe it is not useful and is too expensive.

Vision therapy can include:

  • Eye exercises
  • Use of lens or prisms
  • Computer programs

It is hard to make general statements about vision therapy since what one optometrist prescribes can be quite different from what is prescribed by another.

Eye exercises are almost always part of a vision therapy program. Optometrists with special training in children's vision and many pediatric ophthalmologists agree that for some vision problems it is worthwhile to try eye exercises to see if vision can be improved. There are hundreds of different types of eye exercises that may be prescribed. Examples of some include:

  • Tracing a simple drawing making sure to trace exactly over the lines
  • Reading a row of letters or numbers without skipping over any characters.
  • Repeatedly focusing on a near object and then a far object. For example, two beads are placed on a string about 6 feet apart. The child focuses on the near bead and then the far bead.
  • Showing a simple picture to a child and having the child draw the picture without looking at the original.

Check out to see examples of vision therapies.

The combination of eye exercises plus activities that include gross motor skill development (e.g., standing, jumping, catching a ball) is advocated by some, but not all, optometrists, as being more useful than eye exercises alone. The usefulness of this combination may depend on the child's gross motor development stage. There is general agreement among parents that children enjoy therapy more when gross motor skill activities are included.

Some optometrists use syntonics. Syntonics is the appplication of selected visual light frequencies to improve vision. While some have reported good results, other optometrists consider these treatments to be experimental.

Vision therapy at the optometrist's office can be expensive since it is not always covered by health insurance and children may need to have therapy several times a week. To lower costs, parents can do the exercises with their child at home. The optometrist can then be seen periodically to check on the child's progress.

Color Overlays

Color overlays are used for children with scotopic sensitivity. These overlays come in a wide range of colors. They change the white background of a page to a color, making it easier for the child to read. For more information about scotopic sensitivity visit or contact Irlen Institute at (562)496-2550 or by e-mail at Color overlays are not part of vision therapy. Many optometrists are skeptical of their effectiveness.

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Vision therapy information and materials are available at

See Vision Therapy FAQs at


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Date of Last Update: 07/27/12