Thursday, April 21, 2005

Look at Vision Rehabilitation: The Developmental Optometrists Were Right!

There is now a surge in well-controlled studies showing the scientific benefits of vision therapy and visual rehabilitaion. Although therapies involve eye movements, improvements occur in the 'seeing' parts of the brain. Some physicians will now have to eat their hat. In an unfortunate 1998 Joint Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, and American Academy of Ophthalmology, vision therapy was largely poo-poo'ed (they thought no problem with the eyes), but as a result many patients (including children) have been denied access to helpful therapies because their insurance plans didn't cover it.

Medical insurance companies will hopefully respond quickly to the flood of new research studies. The latest research paper in JAMA about the visual acuity correction of older children with amblyopia may help:

That study revealed that older children (age 13 through 17 years) even benefit from eye patching and vision therapy. It makes sense of course - because of the degree of plasticity that can be induced in adults in other brain resgions. Said Dr. Sieving, Director of the NEI, this latest study is “a wonderful example of the adaptability of the human visual system and brain."

Lazy Eye: Older Children Can Benefit From Treatment
Joint Statement 1998
Therapy to Correct Amblyopia
Vision Restoration Therapy
Review of Efficacy of Eye Exercises
Vision Restoration Therapy
Correction of Visual Field Defects with Therapy

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