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Using Virtual Reality in Vision Therapy

Virtual reality provides an immersive gaming experience, but the innovative technology also offers benefits for people who have several types of vision disorders. Thanks to a new virtual reality program, it may be possible to improve your vision, even if you've had lifelong problems.

What Types of Vision Disorders Does Virtual Reality Help?

Virtual reality vision therapy is designed to improve the symptoms of strabismus (cross eyes), ambylopia (lazy eyes) and convergence insufficiency. All of these disorders affect your eyes' ability to work together as a team and may cause a variety of problems, including depth perception issues, inability to see 3D objects, frequent headaches, difficult driving, or blurred or double vision.

Vision disorders can also have a serious impact on your ability to do well in school or succeed in your career. Because of your vision difficulties, reading may be a slow, arduous process. After you finish reading a report or a chapter in a book, you may realize that you don't remember much about it. Poor depth perception can affect your coordination and make it difficult to succeed in sports, no matter how diligently you practice.

How Can Virtual Reality Help?

Virtual reality can augment the other types of therapy that your vision therapist uses to treat vision disorders, such as computerized and non-computerized games and activities, prisms, lenses and filters. Created just four years ago by James Blaha, one virtual reality treatment system called Vivid Vision trains your eyes to work together to provide clear vision. Blaha developed the technology after suffering from amblyopia as a child. Unfortunately, patching the "good" eye, a common treatment for lazy eye, did little to improve his vision problem.

Frustrated by his inability to see clearly, Blaha created a virtual reality platform aimed at improving binocular vision. Users see the same image in both their left and right eyes while playing a game with the special virtual reality software. Although the image may be the same, the signal strength is different. Signal strength, or brightness, is decreased in the good eye and increased in the bad eye. As a result, the bad eye must work harder to compensate for the difficulties the good eye encounters.

The changes in usable vision can be quite dramatic after just a few months of virtual reality sessions. A new study published in the June edition of BioMed Journal of Ophthalmology confirmed that virtual reality is a promising vision therapy treatment. At the beginning of the study, fewer than half of the participants had measurable 3D vision. After finishing eight virtual reality sessions, more than 90 percent of study participants could see in 3D and also experienced an improvement in their visual acuity.

What Happens During a Virtual Reality Vision Therapy Session?

Virtual reality offers a fun, interactive way to train your eyes to work together. After you put on the virtual reality headset, you'll pop bubbles with your hands, play basketball or shoot asteroids with a joystick. In addition to interactive games, you may also participate in activities that ask you to identify how many numbers or letters you see. The interactive component of the training makes it a particularly appealing option for children, although adults will derive just as much benefit from the treatments as kids.

Vivid Vision training is offered by some vision therapists, but can also be performed at home. If you want to get in a little extra practice in your spare time, your therapist can provide you with a prescription that will allow you to purchase a home system.

Virtual reality games are effective in treating vision disorders in both adults and children. If you think you can benefit from vision therapy, give us a call to schedule a comprehensive vision examination.


Time: This Virtual Reality Game Could Help Treat Lazy Eye, 1/5/16


Venture Beat: Vivid Vision Raises $2.2 Million to Build VR Tools To Treat ‘Lazy Eye’


Optometrists Network: Successful Improvement of Eyesight with Therapy for Patients with Lazy Eye Proven Possible at Later Ages by Many New Scientific Studies