Virtual Reality Therapy
Virtual Reality is a therapy tool we use to improve a patient’s binocular vision (how the eyes work together to produce a three dimensional representation of the world), reduce suppression (where a patient uses only one eye at a time) and improve amblyopia (lazy eye).
We are able to hide a training activity inside a game. Just like hiding running inside a game of touch football. Where you may say “come for a run with me?” and get turned down, when you say “do you want to play touch footy with me?” it is whole other response. The eyes, patient and brain want to play the game, so they do the work.
Like learning to ride a bike, the skills learnt during therapy will be used over a life time.
Virtual Reality training is an emerging science and we are finding more applications for this technology every day. It is currently being used in the areas of lazy eye, sports vision, reading difficulties, brain injury rehabilitation, balance training and depth perception training.
Traditionally lazy eyes were treated with patching. Everyone hated patching; the patient, the parent and the optometrist. Patching works well for waking up one eye, however it is not good for teaching team work (connections) between the eyes. Virtual Reality works well at training the eyes to wake up and work together, all at once. Even more beneficial is that the patient is motivated to complete the training. They enjoy the games. This is much easier than trying to convince a patient to wear a patch and commit to training exercises. It is fast and effective.
We have found that Virtual Reality therapy has been able to help many of our patient’s vision problems. From children and adults with lazy eyes, children and adults struggling with reading, and children and adults with a traumatic brain injury.
The program starts with a comprehensive assessment by one of our behavioural optometrists. During this visit the nature and degree of the patient’s difficulties will be established.
Virtual Reality sessions run for 30 minutes and are conducted one on one, in the practice, with a vision therapist. Most often we book one per week for a block of 4 weeks and then reassess the patient’s progress.
During this time our optometrist will measure, review and discuss with the patient the progress made and will liaise with the vision therapist for future treatment.
Usually 2-3 blocks are required to create a lasting difference, but all cases are unique.