Throughout the world, the term “VTOD” is used to define an eye doctor/optometrist who provides vision therapy.
VT- Vision Therapy
OD- Doctor of Optometry (Optometrist)
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision Therapy are “VTOD-prescribed exercises” that are aimed at improving the neurological control of the eyes. This includes eye focusing, eye alignment, spatial awareness and visual tracking -just to name a few.
Akin to “physiotherapy of the eyes”, it does not only strengthen the eye muscles but also reconditions them so that the brain learn (or re-learns) how to align and focus the eyes in the right manner. It can be used to treat selected cases of strabismus, amblyopia, binocular vision anomalies and accommodative dysfunction; and also to improve functional visual skills that are essential towards learning and sports.
Vision Therapy involves the therapeutic application and prescription of optical lenses and ophthalmic prisms based on current concepts of Behavioural Optometry. This is NOT the same as “Orthoptics”. Not all optometrists provide Vision Therapy because some optometrists can specialise in other areas, such as Primary Care, Geriatrics, Low Vision, Contact Lenses, Dry Eyes, etc.
IGARD in Asia
In Asia, IGARD is well known for its evidence-based approach in Vision Therapy. Through its accumulated wealth of knowledge and clinical expertise since 2004, IGARD has been providing professional quality care to many patients, including children and adults with special needs and learning challenges.
The term “IGARD” means “I’m Guarding Against Reading Difficulties” and their therapies are mostly focused on treating children facing learning challenges. IGARD does not have any other branch offices worldwide. It is based only in Singapore. However, IGARD works closely with many other healthcare professionals throughout Asia and the world; and they may sometimes identify themselves as an IGARD Associate.
If you need to clarify the affiliation status of any individual, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Vision Therapy in Asia
In many parts of Asia, Optometry is still a newly recognised healthcare profession, but it is well established in many other parts of the world. The term “Vision Therapy” is not a protected title in Asia, including Singapore.
Consumers need to be aware that ANYONE in Asia (and Singapore) can claim that they are providing Vision Therapy even though they are unqualified.
These are some important things you should do before you begin Vision Therapy:
1. Check that your provider has attended a reputable University or Graduate School of Optometry (Not the same as “Orthoptics”). It typically takes 4-6 years to graduate in Optometry in some of the most famous schools in the US, UK, Canada and Australia.
2. Check that your provider is a Member (or Fellow) at any one of the 4 most established professional organization for Behavioural Optometry and Vision Therapy. The following websites provide a list of qualified practitioners:
1. Check that your provider is registered and/or licensed locally with the health authorities. This can be difficult to verify in some parts of Asia, but the Ministry of Health publishes a complete list of qualified optometrists in Singapore on their website.
2. Check that your provider is willing to communicate with other healthcare professionals, because you/your child may be seeking professional advise, other therapies or treatments at the same time.
3. Check that your provider is able to show you proof that they are a VTOD when you ask them for it. Ask them to show you their practise certificates bearing the stamp from the health authorities, their Optometry degree certificates, etc.