Home » Vision Therapy

Your Tampa Vision Therapy Specialists

Many patients have never heard of Vision Therapy, but it is well-known and well-researched among optometrists world-wide. It has been used successfully in different forms for over 80 years and is taught in all optometry schools. But only a few doctors, such as Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth, were selected for additional residency training to learn vision therapy techniques and gain experience with difficult cases. Bright Eyes has had hundreds of successful Vision Therapy cases!

Brock_String

Optometric Vision Therapy Is:

  • A progressive program of vision procedures
  • Performed under doctor supervision (optometrists)
  • Individualized to fit the visual needs of each patient
  • Generally conducted in-office, in once or twice weekly sessions of 30 minutes to an hour
  • Occasionally supplemented with procedures done at home between office visits

What is the goal of Vision Therapy?

Specializing in vision therapy, Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth customize each session for exactly what the patient needs. Since every patient is different, a “blanket policy” would not benefit the every patient. Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth take the time to plan each session so that each patient reaches his full visual potential. Depending on the case, the procedures are prescribed to:

  • Help patients develop or improve fundamental visual skills and abilities
  • Improve visual comfort, ease, and efficiency
  • Reduce or eliminate distracting visual symptoms, such as double vision or intermittent blurriness.
  • Change how a patient processes or interprets visual information
glasses african american teen

Common diagnoses that may be treated by Vision Therapy:

  • Convergence Insufficiency (difficulty bringing eyes together to a near point)
  • Accommodative Disorders (difficulty changing or holding focus from near to far)
  • Eye Tracking Disorders (difficulty with smooth or rapid eye movements)
  • Strabismus (including Intermittent Exotropia or Esotropia)
  • Binocular Vision Dysfunction (difficulty coordinating the eyes together)
  • Diplopia (double vision due to the eyes not working well as a team)
  • Vision Information Processing Disorders
happy_mother_daughter

Common symptoms treatable by Vision Therapy:

  • Blurry or uncomfortable near vision
  • Double vision, words might run together or separate
  • Head tilt while reading or watching TV
  • Holding reading material close to face
  • Headaches and/or eyestrain
  • Skipping lines or words when reading
  • Letter reversals
  • Poor hand-eye coordination

A Note About What Vision Therapy Is NOT....

Bright Eyes 10 Year24

Unlike other forms of exercise, the goal of Optometric Vision Therapy is not to “strengthen” eye muscles. Your eye muscles are already incredibly strong. Optometric Vision Therapy should not be confused with any self-directed program of eye exercises which is or has been marketed to the public. Vision Therapy does not eliminate the need for distance glasses and is not suitable for every patient with any of the above diagnoses or symptoms.

Vision Therapy is not a “cure” dyslexia or ADHD. It can alleviate symptoms that may be similar to symptoms of dyslexia or ADHD. If a child has occasional double vision while reading, her eyes jump around the page, or he has trouble keeping his eyes “in-focus” up close, that child will exhibit symptoms such as slow reading, low attention while reading, poor reading comprehension, or even letter reversals. When the act of reading is so difficult visually, most children will get frustrated easily and avoid reading or homework at all costs. When we help them improve their visual skills – tracking, coordinating the eyes, shifting focus quickly, etc. – then we often see improvement in behavioral symptoms.

Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth use scientific evidence to guide their diagnosis and treatment plans. Optometric vision therapy is supported by ongoing evidence-based scientific research. Read the latest research published on optometric vision therapy. We can also share this research with any interested professionals.

Meet Dr. Nate Our Vision Therapy Doctor

Bright Eyes 10 Year73

Vision Therapy used to mean that you would need to come in to the practice once a week. For many patients that can be the main barrier to doing vision therapy either because of scheduling conflicts or because they live to far from a vision therapy practice. Thanks to the amazing new technology developed by Vivid using the state of the art Oculus Rift, you can do vision therapy in the comfort of your own home.

Dr. Nate says “We are proud to be the first and only practice in Florida offering the revolutionary new virtual reality vision therapy program by Vivid. This amazing tool can either be used to compliment traditional treatment or as an at-home option. We have patients from all over the country who come in for their initial consultation and continue their vision therapy treatment with virtual reality from the comfort of their home.”

Learn More About Vision Therapy At Home

Our Doctors Personal Story With Vision Therapy

Stories of our eye doctor and vision therapy

You can read about Dr. Bonilla-Warford’s personal experience with vision therapy in the book Dear Jillian and find lots of other information on the Bright Eyes Blog. You can also read some of the success stories from vision therapy here. And please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions.

Vision Therapy FAQ

Bright Eyes Vision Therapy Program

At Bright Eyes, our job is to make sure that vision does not limit the potential of our patients. If person’s eyes don’t move or change focus properly, they may experience difficulty reading, driving, or performing visual tasks at school or at work. Vision Therapy is a non-invasive, pro-active option in these cases. We offer Vision Therapy at both of our Tampa offices. Our once-a-week Vision Therapy program has proven successful in hundreds of patients, allows patients a more flexible schedule, requires home practice (like music lessons), and offers an affordable fee structure. Our therapists work one-on-one with each patient every week, and the doctors work with the therapists to plan a custom program of therapy that fits the needs and personality of each patient.

Here are some common questions:

What is Vision Therapy?Vision Therapy is a program of specific activities to help people learn to control their eyes so they can read, write, drive, and do the other things they need to do to be successful in life. The most common diagnoses proven to be treatable by Vision Therapy include amblyopia, convergence insufficiency, and accommodative insufficiency. Strabismus and Binocular Vision Dysfunction may also be treatable, but a thorough evaluation is needed to make the determination if any patient is a good candidate for vision therapy.

Unlike other forms of exercise, the goal of Optometric Vision Therapy is not to strengthen eye muscles. Your eye muscles are already incredibly strong. Optometric Vision Therapy should not be confused with any self-directed program of eye exercises which is or has been marketed to the public. Optometric vision therapy is supported by ongoing evidence-based scientific research. Read the latest research published on optometric vision therapy

Why is once-a-week therapy effective?Vision therapy is a system of helping the brain learn to move and focus the eyes in a comfortable, coordinated way. Like music lessons, sports practice, and all other forms of learning, this happens best with some hands-on sessions, trained instructors and home practice. Once-a-week therapy combines one-on-one time with a vision therapist to learn new concepts and practice time at home to master them. This independence also encourages patients to take greater ownership, empowering them to transfer the new visual skills to their everyday life.

Is Vision Therapy a new practice?No. It has been used successfully in different forms for over 80 years and is taught in all optometry schools. But only a few doctors, such as Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth, add an additional year of residency training to learn vision therapy.

How do I know if my child needs Vision Therapy?Adults often recognize symptoms listed below. But children do not usually complain of vision problems directly. So we ask and test for different symptoms, such as:• Blurry, or uncomfortable near vision• Double vision, words might run together or separate• Head tilt while reading• Holding reading material close to face• Headaches/ fatigue• Skipping lines when reading• Letter reversals• Poor coordination• Bumping into objectsYou can download a complete symptom survey here. The survey and a doctor's diagnosis is the first step, but further testing is needed to determine if Vision Therapy will help, how long a treatment program might be, and what the specific plan for the program will be.

Another doctor thinks me or my child needs Vision Therapy. What’s my next step?If your primary care optometrist refers you or your child to our office, we ask that you request a copy of the exam results to be sent to our office, in addition to the referral letter. If a primary care doctor, pediatrician, psychologist or occupational therapist refers you for an evaluation, a comprehensive exam will need to be done first. Following this, we will schedule a binocular vision evaluation. (Binocular- Latin derivation meaning involving both eyes: Bin = two-fold; Oculus = eye). At this evaluation, the doctor will perform a series of tests to thoroughly evaluate how well both eyes work together. The evaluation also includes a conference with the patient and/or parents to discuss findings and treatment options. If Vision Therapy is an option, the doctors will give you details about our program.

My child just had an eye exam. Do I need to have another one? Can I just go straight into Vision Therapy?Although your primary care optometrist or ophthalmologist may have diagnosed your child with a binocular issue, our doctor is still unaware of the extent of the concern. For example, in addition to a diagnosis of Esophoria from a routine eye exam, the binocular evaluation will allow the doctor to figure-out the cause of the dysfunction: it could be involuntary or voluntary. In short, this evaluation directs the doctors’ approach to the patients’ situation, as well as the plan for vision therapy sessions.

How long does Vision Therapy take? How much does Vision Therapy cost?Dr. Nate and Dr. Beth plan every unit of vision therapy specifically for each patient. Since each case depends upon a patient’s diagnosis and severity, the length of treatment will vary person to person. A course of in-office therapy, includes weekly one-on-one sessions with a trained vision therapist, periodic evaluations with the doctor, and all materials necessary for home therapy. Most treatment programs last between 4 and 9 months, and the fee usually ranges between $2,500 to $5,000, but there are shorter and longer cases as well.  Vision Therapy is not one-size fits all!  For patients that are younger or have unique circumstances, we can often accommodate them with variable length programs at a reduced cost. Should you decide to have vision therapy with our office, we will explain in detail how many units would suffice for you, or your child, as well as briefly describe a few of our available payment options.

Does insurance cover Vision Therapy?This topic is very confusing. We have found that most medical insurance plans will not cover vision therapy, excluding it as an elective procedure and often as “unproven” because their exclusion policies are not up-to-date with the research. Therefore, many plans specifically exclude Vision Therapy, just as they might exclude orthodontics. However, some plans have a specific list of diagnoses and procedures that MAY be covered. Due to this inconsistency within medical insurances, we do not bill medical insurances for Vision Therapy; our doctors are not “in-network providers”. Nevertheless, patients are welcome to try and submit receipts for possible out-of-network reimbursement/coverage. We will supply all of the codes, and fill out any forms necessary to help you. More information can be found about this at COVD.org.

Is vision therapy only for children?No, vision therapy can benefit patients of any age who want to improve their visual skills. We have worked with children, parents, and grandparents. There is a video on YouTube of a 101 year old patient encouraging adults of any age to do vision therapy. All it takes is a desire to improve.

If you have more questions, please feel free to call our office! We are happy to help you understand the process, and ultimately to help you receive the treatment you or your child needs!