Vision Therapy | Research

Though vision therapy is not a new treatment, many questions remain about what benefits it offers, and when and how it should be used. There has been a good deal of disagreement among professionals about its validity, and solid research findings are hard to come by.

One exception is a recent study funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) and published in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology. Working at nine sites around the country, researchers held randomized, double-blind clinical trials using different types of vision therapy as the primary treatment for convergence insufficiency (CI) in children.

Over a period of 12 weeks, the researchers followed 221 children, ages 9 to 17, divided into four study groups:

  • The first group did daily at-home pencil push-ups.
  • The second group did at-home pencil push-ups and a series of computer-based vision exercises.
  • The third group did an hour of in-office vision therapy each week, along with at-home reinforcement exercises.
  • The fourth group was given “placebo” (simulated in order to gauge their perceived effects) vision activities designed to mimic office-based therapy.

At the end of the study, researchers found that:

  • office-based vision therapy was successful in 75 percent of patients (meaning their CI was fully corrected or had markedly improved)
  • by comparison, the two at-home therapies were successful in roughly 40 percent of patients

This is one reason why we study vision therapy at Boston Children's Hospital.

Clinical trials

Boston Children’s doctors and scientists have made many breakthrough discoveries about diseases like polio and leukemia; our ongoing innovative research continues to push the boundaries of the way pediatric medicine is practiced.

It’s possible that your child will be eligible to participate in one of Boston Children’s current clinical trials. These studies are useful for a multitude of reasons: Some trials are designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular drug, treatment or therapy on a specific disease; others help doctors to better understand how and why certain conditions occur. At any given time, Children’s has hundreds of clinical trials under way.

Did you know?

In 2009, the National Institutes of Health selected Children’s ophthalmology researcher Gabriel Kreiman, PhD, to receive its Director’s New Innovator Award. Learn more about Kreiman’s work.