If you are an adult living with Amblyopia (Lazy Eye), you understand how your vision impairment has affected you during your lifetime. That’s because the vision loss associated with Amblyopia begins early in childhood. More importantly, your Amblyopia is more than just a loss of eyesight in one eye. Amblyopia disables your depth perception, eye-hand coordination, and reading fluency.
The cause of Amblyopia is due to a failure of both eyes working together (binocular vision) in infancy or early toddlerhood. This is typically due to an unequal refractive state where one eye has a significant amount of farsightedness, nearsightedness and/or astigmatism compared to the other eye known as Refractive Amblyopia. The other more complex form is due to a crossed or turned eye (strabismus), known as Strabismic Amblyopia. However, regardless of the cause, Amblyopia impacts the lives of all of those who suffer from it at all ages, especially adults.
The truth about Treating Adults
The reason why the emphasis in traditional Amblyopia treatment is primarily focused on children is that for over 150 years, the standard treatment for Amblyopia has been an eye patch applied to the “good eye,” full time or part-time, on children up to about age 10. This is based on clinical research that has found that patching for Amblyopia after 10 years of age has no significant therapeutic value. Besides the obvious discomfort, poor compliance, and self-esteem problems of wearing a patch, there are many limitations with eye patching in general as it does not fundamentally treat the cause of Amblyopia. However, new research shows that age is not a barrier to treatment for Amblyopia when the patient, even an adult patient, is participating in visually interesting techniques that are engaging and designed to “turn-on” brain function of both eyes working together. Yes, with advanced methods, adults with Amblyopia can be successfully treated.
We discussed extensively in our chapter published in the August 2018 3rd Volume, Issue 1 of Advances in Ophthalmology and Optometry entitled: Vision Therapy and Virtual Reality Applications, Drs. Fortenbacher, Bartolini, Dornbos, and Tran, present the latest developments in technology, coupled with clinical research in neuroscience and brain neuroplasticity, regardless of age. This modern frontier of new therapeutic applications of highly motivating, patient-engaging vision-therapy brings into the next generation, even for adult patients, effective treatment for Amblyopia with properly prescribed and supervised virtual reality(VR) in vision therapy.
New TeleTherapy Program
What’s especially exciting is that, at Wow Vision Therapy, we can now bring these advanced VR office-based vision therapy applications into your own home, utilizing Vivid Vision Virtual Reality as an integral element for our adult patients. In their home, the patient can use their VR equipment anywhere they have access to WiFi. They toggle into the office computer, working on the same VR programs as if they were physically in our office. Our patients have gained improved depth perception, eye-hand coordination, reading speed, and comprehension, as well as visual acuity (eyesight).
Therefore, with the benefit of our new TeleTherapy platform, at Wow Vision Therapy, we are now able to treat our patients right in their own home with a doctor and vision therapist supervised vision therapy plan. Furthermore, adults with Amblyopia should no longer feel like there is no help for treating their Amblyopia due to age. Granted, some adult patients with Amblyopia have comorbid complicating factors that reduce their ability to respond to vision therapy. However, once we have completed the diagnostic assessment, often using a collaborative model of care with the patient’s eye doctor, in cases of complex comorbidity, the patient is advised to make an informed decision as to whether to pursue treatment. But, in the majority of uncomplicated adult amblyopia cases, (such as refractive Amblyopia) those who comply with the prescribed treatment plan, enjoy good outcomes in their personal vision therapy goals.
The advantages of these new technologies in vision rehabilitation and vision therapy and collaboration with the patient’s own eye care provider has positioned patients to gain access to our care when they are not close enough to travel to our office for office-based vision therapy. Now with our advanced programs of Vision TeleTherapy, including virtual reality in vision therapy, we can remove the typical barriers to access to care for Adults with Amblyopia.
Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D., FCOVD
Wow Vision Therapy
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