Vision Therapy sometimes gets little love from some individuals in the medical and scientific community. Some critics deride it as nothing more than a self-help program or glorified eye exercises.
When Vision Therapy produces results – satisfied patients with improved vision and function – the naysayers dismiss it as no more than the placebo effect. Some even call it voodoo.
Dr. Rick Graebe, a behavioral optometrist in Versailles, knows this first-hand. That’s what he was taught in optometry school at Indiana University.
“I laughed at Vision Therapy along with everyone else,” Dr. Graebe said.
Not any more. In more than 30 years of practice, Dr. Graebe has witnessed enough Vision Therapy success stories to know that it works.
Vision Therapy is a kind of physical therapy or occupational therapy for the eyes, brain and body.
It treats common problems such as lazy eye, crossed eyes, double vision, eye-hand coordination issues, and reading and learning disabilities.
Reading skills often improve with Vision Therapy. Still, critics complain.
“The medical and science community always says there are no studies, but there are tons of studies out there,” Dr. Graebe said.
For example, Dr. Graebe points out that ample clinical data is available that demonstrates that Vision Therapy will produce measurable improvement with visual efficiency – eye movement, tracking and the ability to focus.
Visual efficiency is crucial to reading, so when it is improved, reading improves along with it.
“Common sense tells you that,” Dr. Graebe said. “But like they say, ‘Common sense ain’t so common.’”
Maybe not, but Vision Therapy is gaining in acceptance.
The medical community has acknowledged that VT can successfully treat convergence insufficiency – the inability of the eyes to turn in to read.
The book “Fixing My Gaze” by Dr. Susan R. Barry and Dr. Oliver Sacks provides an account by Dr. Barry, who regained her ability to see in three dimensions at the age of 48 after Vision Therapy treatment.
All of that helps, but the most important test for Dr. Graebe is the success of his patients.
“I don’t care if they say there are no studies out there,” he said.
“I have patients consistently say, ‘I’m so much better.’ ‘My child’s reading has improved three grades.’ ‘I don’t have headaches anymore.’ That’s the most important test of all.”