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Is There Scientific Evidence behind Vision Therapy

Updated: Apr 23, 2022

I often hear something along the lines of "Vision Therapy is nice, but there is just no science behind it."

Fortunately, that just isn't true.

Dozens of medical research studies by groups including the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, along with recognition by health care authorities, are confirming that vision therapy is an effective and beneficial treatment. Sometime ago, I submitted 62 peer-reviewed research papers to an insurance company’s medical review board to receive approval for vision therapy. These papers were a sampling of hundreds of studies that embody 60 years of research, mostly in the United States, but increasingly from other countries, for all of the different types of disorders that vision therapy treats. They show that vision therapy is safe and effective.

A study done in 2005 by the National Institutes of Health (1) showed that vision therapy techniques are successful in treating convergence insufficiency, a common disorder in

which the eyes do not work well together. We live in a world where people appropriately demand rigorous research to validate medical treatment. In evidence-based medicine, the gold standard is multicenter, placebo-based, double-blind, randomized, controlled studies. With this research done by the National Institutes of Health, they have what they are looking for.

Earlier this year, the Mayo Clinic, a non-profit medical practice and medical research

group based in Rochester, Minnesota, completed another study on the effec-

tiveness of “eye tracking therapy” – a type of vision therapy. The research concluded that vision therapy was shown to improve reading fluency. (2)

Other research studies, reported through publications including the American Journal of Optometric Physiology, Journal of the American Optometric Association, the Journal of Learning Disabilities, Brain Injury, and Archives of Ophthalmology, have continued to add to the existing body of research. One exciting area of growth in research has been among traumatic brain injury and concussion patients. A farily recent study showed vision therapy improved eye tracking and thereby reading in those who had suffered from a mild traumatic brain injury. (3) Several others have shown that, since vision is processed by every lobe of the brain, an eye tracking test may be a very effective way of detecting concussions. (4,5)

We live in an exciting time where the science is catching up to what we, as practitioners in vision therapy have experienced time and time again. Vision therapy changes lives!

1. Scheiman, Mitchell, et al. “A randomized clinical trial of treatments for convergence insufficiency in children.” Archives of Ophthalmology 123.1 (2005): 14-24.

2. Leong, Danielle F., et al. “The Effect of Saccadic Training on Early Reading Fluency.” Clinical Pediatrics (2014): 0009922814532520.

3. Thiagarajan, Preethi, and Kenneth J. Ciuffreda. “Versional eye tracking in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI): Effects of oculomotor training (OMT).” Brain Injury 28.7 (2014): 930-943.

4. Ventura, Rachel E., Laura J. Balcer, and Steven L. Galetta. “The neuro-ophthalmology of head trauma.” The Lancet Neurology 13.10 (2014):1006-1016.

5. Marinides, Zoe, et al. “Vision testing is additive to the sideline assessment of sports-related concussion.” Neurology: Clinical Practice (2014): 10-1212.

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