Neuroplasticity is essentially the brain's ability to develop and to adapt to learn new things. While we know the brain is capable of doing these things, we don't necessarily think of vision as something that develops. Although we think of vision as just another sense like hearing or smelling, vision, in fact, is an extremely complex process that goes through an extensive development process. It used to be believed that neuroplasticity ends at eight years old, which would mean that the brain is able to develop properly only up until that point and afterward the visual system is too late to develop. It has been proven incorrect because we know that the brain is capable of learning new skills and adapting to new challenges beyond eight years of age, and that also applies to visual pathways. Vision therapy is a process of learning that takes advantage of the neuroplasticity of the brain to improve learned functions that impact our vision. It enhances the various skills associated with vision, which means strengthening the entire spectrum of aspects related to visual demands we must meet in our everyday lives.
Dr. McBryar often breaks down the visual system into the hardware of the visual system and the software of the visual system. The hardware is more like the eye itself. The longer your eyeball grows, the more likely you are to have to wear glasses for nearsightedness in order to see clearly. Another example is ocular disease, if someone has a disease such as macular degeneration or glaucoma, the hardware of our vision is broken. The software of the visual system is more of the neurological pathways that connect the eyes to the brain, directing the eyes and processing the visual information. Even if you are able to see clearly through your glasses, if your eyes and brain don't work well together, you can have significant difficulties in both an academic and a workplace setting.
The reason why vision therapy works is that we are able to reprogram the neurological software in order to either help the visual system develop properly in the first place, or get it back to functioning at its highest level. Much like bicycle riding, once the visual-cognitive process is learnt, the neurological pathways will work more efficiently without having to think about how the eyes and brain work together to perform tasks.
Call our Chattanooga functional optometry office today at (423) 710 3965 to schedule an appointment.