Pediatric Ophthalmology

Orthoptic Therapy

Orthoptic therapy is a program of eye exercises designed to help people with eye-focusing problems. These exercises are mostly prescribed for children with convergence and/or accommodative insufficiency. These conditions can cause symptoms of eye strain, headache, fatigue and blurred or double vision, especially during reading. Children with these conditions may or may not complain about symptoms; sometimes the focusing problems are discovered on a screening exam. These conditions can also occur in adults.

Some children with reading disability may complain of various eye-related symptoms but after an eye examination, are found not to have any focusing difficulty. There has been long-standing debate as to how much eye exercises can directly help children with reading or learning disability.

Although these eye exercise programs frequently are referred to as vision therapy, it is the opinion of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS), the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that vision therapy programs have no direct benefit for children with dyslexia and other reading or learning disabilities. Therefore, orthoptic therapy Programs are prescribed by Wheaton Eye Clinic only for people with symptoms related to focusing insufficiency.

Patients undergoing orthoptic therapy through Wheaton Eye Clinic visit the office every 1–3 weeks. At these visits the optometrist will evaluate several aspects of a patient’s accommodation and convergence systems, binocularity and fusional capabilities. An individual treatment program is prescribed for each patient, therapy is demonstrated and practiced and then actually performed at home. Older children and adults can use helpful computer programs to guide them through a program of orthoptic therapy.

Dr. Susan Stepleton and Dr. Darin Strako are Wheaton Eye Clinic pediatric optometrists who instruct patients in orthoptic therapy.

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