Study Supports Bifocal and Prisms can Slow Myopic Progression in Children

This article is very exciting for me because it supports the work of many behavioral optometrists who have been prescribing bifocals to slow myopia in children for over 50 years! When I did my Ophthalmology residency, we were taught that bifocals have no effectiveness in the slowing of myopia in children.

The purpose of this study, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, January 2010, was to see if bifocal and prismatic glasses could control myopia in children with high rates of myopic progression.  135 children were randomized into one of three treatment groups. One group wore regular glasses, the 2nd group wore bifocals and the 3rd wore bifocals and prisms.  Myopic progression was measured over a 24 month period. The results indicate that bifocals can statistically slow myopic progression.

This study, along with two others that I have commented on in previous newsletters, has documented the effectiveness of vision therapy in improving vision and function.

Convergence Insufficiency Study 

One of the more common vision problems associated with reading difficulty, or dyslexia if you wish to call it that, is convergence insufficiency. Many children with reading problems have trouble converging or turning their eyes inward.  They either can’t converge enough to be comfortable with print, or if they can do so, they can’t sustain the effort during the long periods they are expected to read. Either situation is called convergence insufficiency.

A study, located in the Archives of Ophthalmology, January 2005, compared three treatments for convergence insufficiency. The treatments were 1) office-based vision therapy combined with home exercises between visits, 2) pencil push-ups done at home and 3) a placebo office-based treatment where exercises not designed to address the problem were conducted to assess any placebo effect. The study concluded that office-based treatments were much more effective in reducing the symptoms of convergence insufficiency in children.

 A recent article reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology, May 2008 studied the benefits of vision therapy. 126 patients with low vision related to diseases of the macula were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group was assigned to a vision therapy program consisting of weekly face-to-face sessions with a visual therapist and daily homework to learn techniques to improve visual function. The other group was placed on a wait list and received no vision therapy.

At the end of 4 months the group that received vision therapy had a significant improvement in all aspects of visual function including reading ability. The group that did not have visual therapy, vision and functional ability declined.

Vision therapy can benefit patients with macular degeneration. Because the waiting-list control patients demonstrated a decline in functional ability vision therapy should be instituted as early as possible.

Vision therapy is an important part of approach at the Healing the Eye and Wellness center.  It can be a valuable adjunct to help you regain your functioning vision

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