Vision therapy is a doctor-supervised, non-surgical and customized program of visual activities designed to correct certain vision problems and/or improve visual skills. Unlike eyeglasses and contact lenses, which simply compensate for vision problems, or eye surgery that alters the anatomy of the eye or surrounding muscles, vision therapy aims to "teach" the visual system to correct itself. Vision therapy is like physical therapy for the visual system, including the eyes and the parts of the brain that control vision. Vision therapy can include the use of lenses, prisms, filters and computer-assisted visual activities. Other devices, such as balance boards, metronomes and non-computerized visual instruments also can play an important role in a customized vision therapy program. It is important to note that vision therapy is not defined by a simple list of tools and techniques.
Successful vision therapy outcomes are achieved through a therapeutic process that depends on the active engagement of the prescribing doctor, the vision therapist, the patient and (in the case of children) the child's parents. Overall, the goal of vision therapy is to treat vision problems that cannot be treated successfully with eyeglasses, contact lenses and/or surgery alone, and help people achieve clear, comfortable binocular vision.
Many studies have shown that vision therapy can correct vision problems that interfere with efficient reading among schoolchildren. It also can help reduce eye strain and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome experienced by many children and adults. See below for more on conditions treated with vision therapy.