What is Strabismus?
by Dr. Jeffrey Cooper & Rachel Cooper (no relation). © 2001-2013
Strabismus or Lazy Eye Surgery (Amblyopia)
Orthoptics: Pre- and/or Post-surgical Eye Muscle Training
Vision Therapy: Non-surgical or Pre- and/or post-surgical -- Nonsurgical treatment, but can be used in conjunction with eye surgery, as appropriate.
Orthoptics is the medical term for eye muscle training procedures, provided by orthoptists and/or optometrists, which address eye teaming and visual clarity (acuity) only. Technically, there are broad distinctions between Orthoptics and Vision Therapy (which includes Orthoptics). Orthoptics regards strabimus as an eye muscle problem and treatment is directed toward muscle strength. Optometrists who provide Vision Therapy look at the neurological control system of the eyes and thus treat the whole visual system (and whole person). Vision Therapy alters the entire nervous system and reflexive behavior, thus resulting in a lasting cure. In general, orthoptics is home-based therapy. In general, Vision Therapy is performed under supervision in an optometrist's office and home therapy is an adjunct. Recent scientific research has shown that office-based Vision Therapy with homework is more successful than home-based therapy alone. See National Eye Institute: More Effective Treatment Identified for Common Childhood Vision Disorder
Optometric Vision Therapy
Optometric Vision Therapy is an individualized, supervised, non-surgical treatment program designed to correct eye movements and visual-motor deficiencies. Vision Therapy sessions include procedures designed to enhance the brain's ability to control:
Visual-motor skills and endurance are developed through the use of specialized computer and optical devices, including therapeutic lenses, prisms, and filters. During the final stages of therapy, the patient's newly acquired visual skills are reinforced and made automatic through repetition and by integration with motor and cognitive skills.
- eye alignment,
- eye teaming,
- eye focusing abilities,
- eye movements, and/or
- visual processing.
While Vision Therapy includes the eye muscle training methods of orthoptics, it has advanced far beyond it to include training and rehabilitation of the eye-brain connections (neuroplasticity) involved in vision. Clinical and research developments in Vision Therapy are closely allied with developments in neuroscience and research continues.
In Vision Therapy programs, developmental optometrists look at the neurological control system and thus are treating the whole visual-motor system and altering reflexive behavior, which results in a lasting cure. Also, most optometrists rely on office based therapy, which they believe is more accurately performed and monitored.
Additional research by the National Eye Institute showed that older children with lazy eye (7 years - 17 years) improve significantly with therapy. If one considers the benefits of in-office therapy combined with home therapy and the likelihood that the older child with be more cooperative...it makes a case for more treatment of older children.
To learn more about Vision Therapy, go to:
A Parent's Choice: Choosing Between Surgery or Vision Therapy
Read what several parents and adult patients have written about Choosing Non-surgical Vision Therapy and going without Eye Surgery and/or experiences with Lazy Eye Strabismus Surgery and post-surgical Vision Therapy.