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Eye exercises help patients work out vision problems, UH optometrist says
Date:3/31/2009

You've probably been there. In a doctor's office, being advised to do what you dread exercise. You get that feeling in your gut, acknowledging that, indeed, you should exercise but probably won't. Now imagine that the doctor is your optometrist.

Don't clean your glasses. You read that right. Eye exercises are used to treat a variety of vision disorders, according to Dr. Janice Wensveen, clinical associate professor at the University of Houston's College of Optometry.

Patient reactions to this quite common prescription range between surprise and relief, she said, but doing the therapy can improve their performance at school and work.

"They're curious, especially when we tell them, instead of putting a Band-Aid on it like we do with glasses or contact lenses, we're actually going to solve your problem. You're going to be cured, and that's something we don't very often do," she said.

The standard at-home prescription is known as "pencil push-up therapy," said Wensveen, who practices at the University Eye Institute's Vision Therapy Clinic in the Family Practice Service.

"Patients visually follow a small letter on a pencil as they moved the pencil closer to the nose. The goal is to be able to keep the letter clear and single until it touches your nose."

Not surprisingly, she said, many patients don't follow through once they're out the door.

"You can imagine that, in the doctor's office, it sounds great, and you can do it. You think, 'Wow, this can help me?' But you get home, and you do it. You think, 'This is really dumb.' You do it once, and you never do it again," she said.

In fact, a study released in the fall by the National Eye Institute (NEI) found that office-based treatment for patients with a common eye muscle coordination disorder, along with at-home reinforcement, is more effective than home-based programs in isolation. The research, reported in the Archives of Ophthal
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Contact: Angela Hopp
ahopp@uh.edu
713-743-8153
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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