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Patching or Vision Therapy for Lazy Eye?

Amblyopia, commonly referred to as ‘lazy eye’, occurs when the brain and the eye are not working in unison. This results in decreased vision in an eye that otherwise seems healthy.

While patching was traditionally the default treatment for amblyopia, vision therapy is now a much better option—and for several reasons. The exercises performed throughout the vision therapy program are meant to teach the patient new visual skills in an engaging and motivating way until the learned skill becomes automatic. Vision therapy thus outweighs the benefits of eye patching.

How Does Vision Therapy Compare To Eye Patching?

Traditionally, placing a patch (occlusion or penalization) over the better-seeing eye was the only method used to treat amblyopia. In theory, this treatment makes sense because it strengthens the weaker eye without interference from the other eye. Some optometrists still use patching because they claim that the eye and brain will naturally tune in to perfect binocular vision.

Unfortunately, training the brain and eyes to work together isn’t so simple. With patching, the brain finds other ways to compensate for the lack of vision while a solid vision therapy program is meant to guide and retrain the eyes and brain to work together with clear direction. For example, if you’re learning to ride a bicycle, you wouldn’t start with learning to ride a unicycle. You’d have someone guide you on a bicycle, so you can navigate and ride the bike correctly. Your vision is multiple times more complex than the skills involved in bike-riding, and learning the subtle vision skills requires the expertise of an optometrist trained in developmental vision therapy.

Furthermore, another problem with patching is that children may resist wearing it, as it draws attention and may affect their confidence. On the other hand, children who undergo vision therapy are likely to experience a confidence boost as visual skills are refined.

Vision therapy developed based on significant advances in the neuroscience of vision. While still making use of partial penalization, vision therapy also encourages the development of proper binocular vision and eye-teaming. Vision Therapy improves the amblyope’s visual abilities by enhancing eye coordination, depth perception, and reduces suppression (where the brain inhibits blurred or double vision by ignoring the image of the weaker eye).

Vision therapy works through a regimen of individually prescribed and monitored exercises aimed at developing visual skills and processing. The course of vision therapy sessions are typically supplemented by exercises to be done daily at home. The length of the program can range from several weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the diagnosis, patient compliance, and eye health.

Speak with Dr. Lisa Roach from Vision Therapy Center At Eye Trends and discover how vision therapy can help you or your child with amblyopia. Vision Therapy Center At Eye Trends serves patients in Houston, Spring, Woodlands, Conroe, and throughout Texas.

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Dr. Inns is a 1982 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilfred Laurier University, Canada. During his training at the University of Houston, he held positions in research and was a teaching assistant / laboratory instructor.

Postgraduate work includes therapeutic courses at Pennsylvania College of Optometry and the Optometric Glaucoma Specialist Course at the University of Texas Medical School. Dr. Inns has published in Optometry Today and Optometric Management. He also volunteers at the schools in his area.

Dr. Inns and his wife, Lynn, spend much of their spare time calling and visiting with their four boys.

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Amber Draper, Manager

As the manager of The Woodlands office, Amber Draper leads the team with the focus on patient care and assisting with their ophthalmic needs. Having over 10 years experience, Amber can aid patients with the most appropriate lens technology to match their daily needs. Everyone needs at least one pair of sun wear, especially here in Texas.

Amber is a proud graduate of Sam Houston State University with a BA in History, and a minor in Spanish.

In her spare time, she is with family, friends, and enjoying some Houston Texans Football.

Dr. Toups is a 1984 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Northeast Louisiana University.

Being a therapeutically licensed optometrist, Dr. Toups is trained to diagnose and treat ocular conditions. He specializes in contact lenses and he is current with all refractive surgery procedures.

Dr. Toups is married, has five children and has lived in the Houston area since 1980.

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