VISION THERAPY AND ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY

The eye is amazing. Did you know more than 1.9 million fibers come from the eye into the brain? Each of those fibers creates its own pathway to the brain and has its own distinct function. So when someone has a stroke or other acquired brain injury (ABI), vision is often affected.  ABIs include concussions suffered in severe sports-related hits or a car accident, as well as cerebral or vascular strokes. An ABI can affect both neurological pathways in the eye, the focal or parvocellular pathway, which is....

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SYNTONICS: CREATING BALANCE FOR THE EYES

Syntonics, or optometric phototherapy, is a form of light therapy used to treat a variety of vision problems. It is available at Family Eyecare Associates to help patients with a variety of vision problems, such as strabismus (eye turns), amblyopia (lazy eye), focusing and convergence problems and learning disorders. It has also been shown to be very effective for people who suffer from migraines.

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WHAT IS BEHAVIORAL OPTOMETRY?

Behavioral optometry starts with the concept that vision is learned. When we’re born, we don’t know how to use our arms, legs and hands. We also don’t know how to use our eyes. We have to learn how to integrate them with the rest of our body. The brain must process what the eyes are seeing, and then it has to integrate that information with the other senses. From a behav- ioral standpoint, seeing requires a more holistic approach, getting all the senses to work together.

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PRESBYOPIA - UNAVOIDABLE BUT MANAGEABLE

Presbyopia is a natural consequence of aging. In Greek, the word means “old eye.” Presbyopia usually first manifests when you are in your 40s. You may notice it’s getting harder to see things close up, but you can see things that are far away without any problem. You may have to hold reading material at arm’s length because it looks blurry when you try to read at a normal distance. Doing close work may cause headaches or fatigue. You may find you need more light to read or work by, and you may have a little more trouble driving at night because of glare.


Presbyopia happens when the natural lens in the eye loses flexibility and begins to stiffen. It makes the lens less able to change shape so you can focus when looking at something up close. As the lens grows thicker and less elastic, it becomes more yellowed and light can’t pass through as easily as it previously did. About 30 percent less light gets back to the eye that is developing presbyopia.


A basic eye exam will confirm you have presbyopia. (This is one reason why you should have regular comprehensive eye exams even as you get older.) While it can’t be reversed, cured or avoided, presbyopia is easy to correct. It’s as simple as picking up a pair of over-the-counter readers at the drugstore if you don’t wear glasses. Your eye doctors at Family Eyecare Associates may prescribe bifocals, trifocals or progressive lenses for you if you already wear glasses.

With bifocals, the top part corrects for distance vision and the lower part helps you see objects up close. Contact lens wearers can get a pair with monovision: One eye will have a distance prescription and the other will have a prescription for near vision. Multifocal contact lenses are another option for getting ahead of presbyopia. There are some surgical options as well. Discuss with your ophthalmologist which choice would be best for you.


While not painful or dangerous or debilitating, presbyopia does cause some loss of sensory input, since less light hits the back of your eyes and you don’t see as well. Because of this, you may have an increased risk of falling or tripping. Visual therapy can help you improve your reaction and response time by honing your speed and accuracy. Vision is all about recognizing and responding. When your recognition and response is accurate and quick, you won’t have as many falls and tumbles. A recent study at the University of Cincinnati demonstrated that college athletes who participate in vision therapy have a statistically significant reduction in concussions. One visual therapy exercise taught at Family Eyecare Associates incorporates eye-foot-speed reaction time, teaching you to judge space and distance and coordinate your reaction accurately. Even though you

may be dealing with presbyopia, staying active can help you hone your visual skills and keep you in the game. Call Family Eyecare Associates at (859) 879-3665 for more information about how visual therapy can help.

DR. RICK GRAEBE

Dr. Graebe received both his B.S degree in Visual Science and Doctorate of Optometry from Indiana University. He is a Behavioral Optometrist and learning expert. He has been in private practice here in the Bluegrass area for the past 32 years.

more articles by dr rick graebe