Evidence-Based Research of Vision Therapy

A large body of scientific and clinical evidence has demonstrated vision therapy to be an effective treatment for a broad range of functional vision issues. 


Evidence-Based Research of Vision Therapy in Olympia

American Family Vision Clinic

Vision Therapy may be new to some but it has been around for well over a century. It was designed years ago as a non-surgical alternative to various ophthalmological treatments, and has developed into an effective way to address cognitive, motor, and neurological deficits as well. As vision therapy has developed over the years, it has gifted the young and old alike, the ability to interact in more positive, efficient, and meaningful ways within their environment.

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision therapy is an intervention used by optometrists that addresses the ways in which visual processing and the ability to interpret information through the eyes is developed and improved. Vision therapy is used for people who lack visual efficiency, ease, comfort, and skills. The belief that vision therapy is just a fancy way to describe eye exercises is rather antiquated and belies the ways in which it can strengthen weak eye muscles and more. Vision therapy helps patients re- learn and understand how they see. More accurately, it relates to interactions along the brain’s neural networks, affects changes that occur along neuronal pathways that allow new connections to develop, and enables environmental remapping to occur. The concept that makes vision therapy possible is known as neuroplasticity. 

What is Vision Therapy?
Neuroplasticity and the Brain

Neuroplasticity and the Brain

The brain’s ability to create new pathways as well as change existing ones, is known as neuroplasticity, and is what makes vision therapy such a powerful intervention. By training the brain to make adjustments to its cortical organization, the physiological changes needed to make lasting changes is made possible. A properly designed vision therapy program can establish neurological changes that improve persistent visual difficulties and enhance overall visual  performance.

Neuroplasticity and the Brain

What is a Vision Therapy Doctor and Therapist?

There are two primary certification bodies in the US for vision therapy, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) and the Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF). Optometrists that achieve the highest level of certification in the field are fellows of the COVD or FCOVD, which is achieved by thorough testing and case reports that demonstrate mastery of both the science and practical application. In addition therapists are able to achieve advanced certification such as COVT or Certified Optometric Vision Therapist, which requires 2,000 hours of clinical experience under the supervision of an FCOVD Optometrist, and advanced testing.

The Research

It goes without saying that good research exists because of the extraordinary work of great scientists and researchers. Here’s a brief sampling of just some of the studies that have been conducted.



In December 2002, Dr. Kenneth J. Ciuffreda of the SUNY College of Optometry in New York, studied the efficacy and scientific basis for vision therapy in the treatment of vergence and non- strabismic disorders. He assessed changes in oculomotor responsiveness in children and adults that supported general motor learning as well as vision therapy. 



In 2010, Dr. Mitchell Scheiman of Salus University in Pennsylvania, Dr. Susan Cotter of the Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO) at Marshall B. Ketchum University, Dr. John Lawrenson of the City University of London, Dr. Li W. Wang of Austin, and Dr. T. Li of Bakersfield, reviewed the studies of nearly 1,300 individuals with convergence insufficiency. Amongst those tested for six weeks to six months, were children and adults from the ages of 7 to 18, 15 to 40, and 40 and older. Study results supported the benefits of vision therapy conducted in-office and reinforced improved convergence ability in children who participated in continued vision therapy at home. Research from 2019 further indicated the therapeutic benefits of accommodative therapy. 



In 2020, Dr.s Kristian Borg and Berthold-Lindstedt, of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and Dr. J Johansson of the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm Sweden determined that targeted vision therapy can effectively treat, improve, and reduce oculomotor deficits resulting from acquired brain injuries. 

What is Vision Therapy?
Neuroplasticity and the Brain

Recognition of Vision Therapy as a Viable Treatment Option

Vision therapy has been both arduously tested and vilified since its emergence in the late 1800s. Between the 1930s and 1960s vision therapy gained more respect and acceptance as a valid part of optometric care, but the field still lacked substantial proof that it was indeed effective. In the absence of sufficient research and data, vision therapy appeared to be a good idea but not necessarily good practice.

In the early 1990s, due to the intense efforts to prove just how much vision therapy could help people of all ages experiencing any number of visual dysfunctions, the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial Investigator group (CITT) was born. Through the efforts of several dedicated and determined optometrists who had seen how life changing vision therapy could be, the CITT received grants through the National Eye Institute and opportunities to conduct a variety of clinical trials were created. Ultimately, vision therapy was proven to be an effective option for treating patients both in office and at home.

Common Questions

The answer to this question is in part, due to the lens through which vision therapy has been viewed. While the world of optometry tends to view vision therapy very favorably, opthamologists have been slower to accept its efficacy. Vision therapy is meant to be practiced in a supervised setting by a qualified practitioner. And just like there are no cure-alls or treatment panaceas for any condition, the same can be said for vision therapy. Anyone who claims vision therapy can cure any ocular problem, does the specialty an enormous disservice. While vision therapy does not enjoy the same representation as other areas within the optometric landscape, that is changing rapidly.
Unfortunately, randomized trials of vision therapy did not take place until the 90s, despite the fact that by then, the practice had been around for several decades. There have also been long stretches of time in which diagnostic criteria have been less consistent than they are now. That has made data difficult to collect and disseminate.
Yes! There is a good deal of exciting research in the works including: The efficacy of vision therapy for patients with presbyopia (age related accommodation insufficiency) Studies on the mechanisms that allow for improvement in the symptoms experienced by vision therapy patients. A study of the physiological changes that take place after vision therapy How to develop vision therapy protocols that lead to even greater success rates
Evidence-Based Research of Vision Therapy
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

The Future of Vision Therapy

Vision therapy has been around for over 100 years and continues to develop at a rapid pace. As more and more research is conducted the benefits of vision therapy, both quantitative and qualitative, are becoming more apparent. And with greater funding from agencies like the NEI and the unwavering support and research of doctors like Mitchell Scheiman, OD, PhD, FAAO, vision therapy is sure to win a well deserved and coveted role in the world of vision care. To schedule a functional vision exam at American Family Vision Clinic please call (360) 491-2121.

Related Articles


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
1 2 3



Macular degeneration: separating fact from fiction- myths and misconceptions

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in older adults in the United States. Approximately 20 million adults in […]

Read More

Alleviating Eye Strain from Digital Devices: Tips and Exercises for Relief

As we spend more and more time in front of computer screens and cell phones, it's important to be aware […]

Read More

Beyond LASIK: Discovering New Vision Correction Techniques

According to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), there were approximately 1.8 million LASIK procedures performed in […]

Read More
see all blogs

Contact Us To Amplify Your EyeCare

American Family Vision Clinic Logo

Working Hours




400 Yauger Way SW. Bldg 1, Ste A Olympia, WA 98502
(360) 459-1097
Website Accessibility Policy
Safety protocols page
privacy policy
For Patients
Call Us
eyefile-adduserphone-handsetcalendar-fullarrow-uparrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram