Below, our vision experts answer FAQs about binocular vision disorders and how they can be diagnosed and treated with VR.
What is a binocular vision disorder?
A binocular vision disorder (or binocular vision dysfunction) is when a person’s two eyes are “out of sync” with each other. This makes it difficult to see objects up close or far away.
Symptoms vary widely from person to person, but may include blurry or double vision, eye strain, dizziness, poor hand-eye coordination, sensitivity to light, headaches, and difficulty reading. Common binocular disorders include convergence insufficiency, strabismus (crossed eye), and amblyopia (lazy eye).
Estimates vary, but approximately 30% [1, 2, 3, 4] of the general population are thought to have binocular dysfunction.
What is convergence insufficiency (CI)?
Convergence insufficiency (CI) is one of the most common binocular vision disorders. CI occurs when a person’s two eyes struggle to look together, or “converge”, on targets at a near distance, such as when reading or using a computer. This may lead to side effects such as headaches, double vision, blurred vision, eye fatigue, and difficulty reading.
CI has an estimated prevalence of 4-16% of the general population and up to 50% of post-concussive patients. Unfortunately, CI often goes undiagnosed, especially in children. This is because diagnosis requires a binocular vision examination, which optometrists do not typically administer during routine eye check-ups.
What is vision therapy, and can it treat CI?
Yes, it can! Vision therapy is a series of sessions in which a patient does controlled eye exercises meant to improve how their eyes work together.
Over the last 15 years, many double-masked randomized clinical — the “gold standard” of scientific studies — have demonstrated that office-based vision therapy is effective [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], with remission achieved in approximately 75%
of patients [1, 2]. In fact, one of our very own co-founders, Dr. Mitchell Scheiman, coordinated several of these groundbreaking studies! (For forms of binocular vision disorders other than CI, more research is needed to say for sure whether vision therapy is effective.)
Does YOUR vision therapy work?
We have good reason to believe it does. In our 2019 pilot study of our VERVE product, we used an early prototype of our game to administer 12 1-hour sessions of vision therapy to each of 9 patients with CI. Of those, 7 (78%) achieved complete remission, and the remaining 2 (22%) showed symptomatic and clinical improvement. We plan to conduct a larger clinical trial to test how
effective our new and improved game is, and we hope that with time we’ll be able to reach closer and closer to 100%.
What is YOUR vision therapy like?
In a word, fun! We want patients to enjoy vision therapy, not suffer through it. So instead of sitting down with an optometrist and doing boring exercises, patients can spend each session playing our fun and interactive VR game.
At first vision therapy may cause a patient’s eyes to feel tired, like their legs might after a long walk, but after a few
weeks that feeling will fade, and the patient will likely notice quality-of-life improvements like being able to read for a longer time or suffering fewer headaches.