As you delve into the world of vision therapy, sometimes referred to as vision rehabilitation or orthoptics, keep in mind it is a therapy program to address deficits of the visual system. Common sense tells us if it involves the visual system, it is important to seek out a program that is overseen and monitored by an eye doctor. It is advisable to be under the care of a Residency Trained Neuro-Optometrist, if you have access to an eye doctor with this level of advanced training in your area or within driving distance this should be your first choice.
Vision therapy involves the neurological component of vision; which is why it is so important to seek the care of a Residency Trained Neuro-Optometrist. The term neuro-optometrist is used to identify optometrists who have completed the rigorous application and acceptance process, been accepted into and completed a residency program in the sub-specialty area of neuro-optometry. Residency trained neuro-optometrists assess the function of the overall visual system, evaluate binocular vision function and visual processing, and provide research-based assessments and treatment programs.
Not all parents are aware of the differences in training among vision therapy providers. Let's explore the reality that parents face when considering vision therapy. The first step is to evaluate the training and credentials of the vision therapy provider. This can be easier said than done. There are some eye doctors, who do not have any advanced clinical training in vision therapy yet offer this service. Typically training in the area of vision therapy comes in the form of several hours of continuing education at an optometry conference. This method of education lacks any formal academically based clinical training. The same can be said for occupational therapists. Occupational therapists do not complete advanced clinical training in the field of vision therapy. Typically their training comes in the form of weekend seminars, again education is not in the form of formally structured, academically based clinical training. And to add further confusion, there are national franchises that advertise vision therapy services, but do not typically employ licensed healthcare professionals with any sort of training in vision therapy. Admittedly, this can be frustrating – but don't give up. Getting the help your child needs is priority #1.
The first step is to rule out vision therapy programs that are not under the direction of, overseen by, or regularly monitored by an eye doctor. Remember, this is the visual system we are talking about. Let's take a look at the types of eye doctors who are diagnose binocular vision dysfunction and provide vision therapy.
The term neuro-optometrist is used to identify optometrist who, after graduation from optometry school, elect to complete formal academic residency training in neuro-optometry, binocular vision and vision therapy. Neuro-optometrists provide research based assessments and evidence based treatment programs. Keep in mind, most optometrist do not have residency training. Residency training for optometrist is optional, advanced training within a specific area of sub-specialty. Neuro-optometry is a specialty field of vison care that combines neurology and optometry.
The term pediatric optometrist is used to identify optometrists who have completed formal, residency training in pediatric optometry. Most optometrist do not have any type of residency training. A pediatric optometrist assesses the overall health of the eyes and evaluates eye conditions specific to the pediatric population, including binocular vision dysfunction.
The term behavioral optometrist is used to describe an optometrist who has not completed formal advanced training, such as residency, but elects to provide treatment separate from mainstream optometry. Behavioral optometrist an umbrella term which also includes developmental and functional optometry. Behavioral optometrists attempt to improve vision and well-being using eye exercises in ways that depart from conventional optometry.
The term developmental optometrist is used to describe an optometrist who has not completed formal advanced training, such as residency, but elects to provide treatment separate from mainstream optometry. Developmental optometry is similar to chiropractic, in that it is a health care progression that is self contained, separate form mainstream medical science. Similar to behavioral optometrists, developmental optometrists do not adhere to research-based testing and treatment protocols. Instead they typically elect to pursue less conventional, unproven treatment.