From what I've seen, there definitely is a crackpot element associated with vision therapy. But there also seems to be some truth to it. Using eyeglasses to correct vision does not address the root problem, but only the symptoms. Glasses are a quick fix; they're reactive rather than preventive. Finally, glasses are visual crutches. Just as your muscles atrophy when using crutches, so too does your vision deteriorate when using glasses. This explains why glasses-wearers need to get stronger and stronger prescriptions. (I was shocked when an optometrist told me that wearing glasses would worsen my vision until it hit rock bottom.)
I see that vision therapy has been discussed here before, but maybe a bump will bring up some new discussion.
As someone who has been in the optical lab business for over 9 years already, and who also wears glasses, I can tell you that vision therapy IS a crackpot scheme.
Poor vision is caused by a variety of reasons: Genetics, the shape of your eyeball, the muscles in your eyes, disease, cataracts, etc. Genetics is the predominant factor is whether one is near or farsighted.
When your vision is poor and you don't wear corrective lenses (glasses or contacts), the muscles in your eyes have to work overtime to try and give your brain the clearest picture it can. This isn't a big deal if you're mildly near or farsighted, as most people get used to being a little blurry and think it's normal.
But the flip side is this: Wearing glasses allows your eyes to relax and get that clear picture without having to strain delicate eye muscles. If anyone has ever wondered why they get wicked headaches by the end of the day, it's probably due to eye strain. Either you need glasses or need to get your Rx updated. I can be on the computer all day and night, but because I keep my prescription current, I don't feel any strain. So in a way, wearing glasses can make your eye muscles weaker because you're no longer having to strain them. But in no way does that mean your vision will progressively deteriorate until you're blind as a bat, just from consistently wearing glasses.
These therapies marketed to people cannot change the shape of your eyeball, the most they can do is strengthen the muscles in your eye. This will not change your vision or "improve" it. Only surgery or glasses can do that.
If there is anything that is crackpot, it sounds like it is the optometrist who told you wearing glasses will only make your eyes worse. I know some people who use glasses and have had improvements in their vision. I don't think glasses are responsible for changing a person's prescription, either better or worse. I mean, a person doesn't develop a vision problem only after getting glasses. They generally have a vision problem and then seek out glasses.
By your supposition, no one should go in for a vision check, otherwise they'll be dependent on eyeglass crutches. I just don't think there is some miracle, secret, magical therapy that is going to cure a person's prescription. Vision therapy has its place, but certainly not to prevent or eliminate a need for a prescription. I know people who had vision therapy when they were kids. The exercises helped their eyes work better together or improved their ability to change focus from distance to near when deficient. Sometimes a kid with a lazy eye gains improvement with therapy.
You might recall some infomercials some years ago for the "See Clearly Method." You know, those miracle, secret, magical exercises to end the need for nasty eyeglass crutches.
Well, per Wiki: Tom Miller, the Attorney General of Iowa, filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Vision Improvement Technologies, the promoter of the See Clearly Method, in 2005. In February 2006 an Iowa court issued a temporary injunction restricting certain aspects of the company's marketing. A November 2, 2006 press release from the Iowa Attorney General's office announced a consent decree with Vision Improvement under which the company will halt sales, offer restitution to customers, clear customers' credit records of any filings related to See Clearly purchases, and halt operations as of December 2006.
On December 18th, 2006, the company's web site stated, "As of November 1, 2006 The See Clearly Method is no longer available for sale."
Something to think about.
A good friend from college did the Bates Method sessions with a facilitator trained in the method back in his 20s. He is a photographer and really wanted clear vision.
According to him, he was able to correct his vision to the point that he no longer needed the contacts/glasses he was wearing. He is still seeing 20/20 last time I asked him.
My understanding is that the exercises help you to relax the eye and unlearn bad habits of seeing.
My own n=1 experience is that my prescription improved (per my amazed ophlamologist) after moving to a small town from the big city. My diet, etc did not change, but my stress level was much lower.
This article does not answer this post but it does open my eyes to the widespread and failing eyesight of modern societies.
Modern optometrists are not aware of this trend so most likely they are not aware of the true cause or cure of some eye issues. I do not know if the bates method works but look forward to future research on this subject.
" As Dr. Loren Cordain notes (PDF), research involving modern hunter gatherers reveals near perfect eyesight in studied groups. "
" The numbers for myopia, for example, have skyrocketed in the last thirty years across the developed world, and children oddly appear to be the hardest hit. Singapore is often cited as the worst off. As many as 80% of 18-year-old military conscripts exhibit myopia as do 20% of children under seven and 70% of those graduating college (PDF). In Sweden, 50% of 12-year-olds have myopia (PDF)."
Vision therapy doesn't seek to eliminate the need for glass and corrective contact lenses. In many cases special prism lenses are prescribed as part of a vision therapy regiment. Vision therapy also does not simply attempt to strengthen ocular muscles but to improve the brains ability to control the vision system. It is an alternative for surgery in some cases. The ability to see clearly is not just the eyes ability to focus on a target at a distance, but our eyes ability to work together as a team in such a way that our brains can fully understand and process what it is we are seeing. Vision therapy trains the brain to process vision with efficiency and comprehension. If you are considering home therapy however, then that is where vision therapy is not effective. Studies show conclusive evidence that home therapy is no more effective than a placebo. However, vision therapy that is observed and administered by a vision therapy specialist has been proven to be effective in most cases
I have vision therapy and I can say from first hand experience it does work
And yes I still need contacts but my eye hand coordination and reading abilities are significantly improved
Not to burst anybody's bubble but there can be statistical fluctuations. In my experience, a change within +/- 0.50 in one or both eyes is common from year to year because the refraction for glasses is subjective - and even objective measurements like an autorefractor can have more fluctuation then that! You could have been slightly overcorrected (sometimes by an entire 1.00 diopter in each eye) in the past. Sometimes when people change eye doctors, this is corrected
I tried eye exercises and those books that claim to get rid of glasses when I hit puberty and got glasses (low prescription that time). It didn't work for me. I was a bookworm devouring 1 novel per day(Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, etc.) so looking back I'm sure that contributed to my myopia.
I did do some VT - vision therapy and vision training to help with eyestrain at near/computer work which did help subjectively and objectively (measured with prisms). My mother did the same. But neither of us eliminated our glasses.
There are some genes involved with myopia. I do believe in epigenetics - gene interaction with the environment so I don't think everyone is doomed by their genes. I would also like to see someone cured without refractive surgery (LASIK, and the like) from -3.00 D to 0 (no prescription) in their glasses.
That being said, it seems that Vitamin D and being outdoors affects myopia!
Now high insulin levels can affect myopia. There are other issues that high-carb, glucose, and insulin negatively affect the eye.
Illiterate and less-educated populations have much lower myopia rates vs. more educated and literate populations as shown in China (rural vs. urban) and Israel (Orthodox vs. Reform Jews - the former have to memorize and read a lot more of their holy texts). This is even in populations that share much of the same genes, suggesting the environment of constant near work (computer and reading which was never part of our evolutionary history) and perhaps less sunlight/Vitamin D contributes to myopia.
I think it maybe easier to prevent (especially before the age 18) myopia then to change it afterwards. However, I could happily be proven wrong - track your glasses prescriptions!
Frankly, I have yet to see objective data for refractive error change (myopia, presbyopia, and hyperopia) for the Bates method (eye exercises), so I'm a bit skeptical. Objective data would include corneal topography, axial length changes.
The section on claimed success is all I can support because of the lack of objective data:
" As evidence for the effectiveness of the Bates method, proponents point to the many accounts of people allegedly having improved their eyesight by applying it. While these anecdotes may be told and passed on in good faith, several potential explanations exist for the phenomena reported other than a genuine reversal of a refractive error due to the techniques practiced:
Some cases of nearsightedness are recognized as due to a transient spasm of the ciliary muscle, rather than a misshapen eyeball. These are classed as pseudomyopia, of which spontaneous reversal may account for some reports of improvement.
Research has confirmed that when nearsighted subjects remove their corrective lenses, over time there is a limited improvement (termed "blur adaptation") in their unaided visual resolution, even though autorefraction indicates no corresponding change in refractive error. This is believed to occur due to adjustments made in the visual system. One who has been practicing Bates' techniques and notices such improvement may not realize that simply leaving the glasses off would have had the same effect, which may be especially pronounced if the prescription was too strong to begin with.
Visual acuity is affected by the size of the pupil. When it constricts (such as in response to an increase in light), the quality of focus will improve significantly, at the cost of a reduced ability to see in dim light. This is known as the "pinhole effect".
Some eye defects may naturally change for the better with age or in cycles (ophthalmologist Stewart Duke-Elder suggested that this is what happened with Aldous Huxley).
A cataract when first setting in sometimes results in much improved eyesight for a short time. One who happens to have been practicing the Bates method will likely credit it for any improvement experienced regardless of the actual cause.
Some studies have suggested that a learned ability to interpret blurred images may account for perceived improvements in eyesight. Ophthalmologist Walter B. Lancaster had this to say: "Since seeing is only partly a matter of the image on the retina and the sensation it produces, but is in still larger part a matter of the cerebral processes of synthesis, in which memories play a principal role, it follows that by repetition, by practice, by exercises, one builds up a substratum of memories useful for the interpretation of sensations and facilitates the syntheses which are the major part of seeing." Lancaster faulted ophthalmologists in general for neglecting the role of the brain in the process of seeing, "leaving to irregular, half-trained workers the cultivation of that field".
"Flashes of clear vision"
Bates method enthusiasts often report experiencing "flashes" of clear vision, in which eyesight momentarily becomes much sharper, but then reverts back to its previous state. Such flashes are not the result of squinting, and can occur in one eye at a time or in both eyes at once. Observation has suggested that both the quality and duration of such flashes can be increased with practice, with some subjects holding a substantial improvement for several minutes. Tests of such subjects have found that the temporary improvement in visual acuity is real, but per retinoscopy is not due to any change in refractive error. A 1982 study concluded that such occurrences are best explained as a contact lens-like effect of moisture on the eye, based on increased tear action exhibited by 15 out of 17 subjects who experienced such improvement. A more recent series of studies have proposed that such flashes may be caused by "negative accommodation" (i.e. an active flattening of the lens by the ciliary muscles).
Here's an article from the New York Times about vision therapy. It works in some cases but it does not keep you from needing glasses or fix dyslexia issues.
I have practice the eye relaxation exercises which help my eyesight, mostly following 10-10-10, for every 10 minutes of reading, look at something at least 10 feet away for at least 10 seconds. That would greatly prevent myopia since it relax your eye muscles. Check out the boook, Better Vision without Glasses or Contacts b Dr. Beresford.
Vision therapy doesn't seek to eliminate the need for glass and corrective contact lenses. In many cases special prism lenses are prescribed as part of a vision therapy regiment. Vision therapy also does not simply attempt to strengthen ocular muscles but to improve the brains ability to control the vision system. It is an alternative for surgery in some cases. The ability to see clearly is not just the eyes ability to focus on a target at a distance, but our eyes ability to work together as a team in such a way that our brains can fully understand and process what it is we are seeing. Vision therapy trains the brain to process vision with efficiency and comprehension. If you are considering home therapy however, then that is where vision therapy is not effective. Studies show conclusive evidence that home therapy is no more effective than a placebo. However, vision therapy that is observed and administered by a vision therapy specialist has been proven to be effective in most cases.