A business that helps people overcome visual challenges is celebrating its first year in the Comox Valley.
Comox Valley Vision Therapy Optometry does not sell glasses or provide routine eye exams. It specializes in neurological and developmental optometry.
Owner Amber Vinge and her two staff members see patients with visual issues resulting from a head injury or stroke, or who struggle with eye movement or focusing control for reading and other tasks.
“We commonly manage vision-related learning difficulties, concussion or brain injury, eye turns or lazy eye, and binocular vision disorders — headaches, dizziness, eye strain/fatigue, intermittent blur,” said Vinge, who is considered a neuro-developmental optometrist.
She said vision is much more than 20/20.
“It’s the dominant sense that we use to acquire information from our world. At least 40 per cent of our brain is dedicated to vision, and as much as 80 per cent of our classroom-based learning is visual in nature.”
In order to gain information, she said eyes simultaneously track, team, jump, focus, localize and process targets in a busy visual scene. Inefficiencies in how we use our eyes or visual processing system can contribute to common issues at work or school, or while playing sports. Reading skill, attention, balance, eye-turns, lazy eyes and visual symptoms following brain injury can all be improved via visual rehabilitation.
“We use the science of neuroplasticity (ability of the brain to form new connections at any age) to give the brain directed opportunities to improve visual performance,” Vinge said.
Can eye muscles be trained like other muscles in the body?
“I would say that we are more training the brain to be able to use the muscles efficiently and correctly than strengthening the muscles themselves.”
Before opening in the Valley, she said the service had only been available in Port Alberni and Victoria. Besides locals, the Comox Valley office serves patients from Port Hardy, Gold River, Campbell River and Powell River.
“There has been a lot of positive support and referrals from the medical community, but patients don’t need a referral to be seen,” Vinge said. “It’s an exciting and expanding field with potential to help many.”
Comox Valley Vision Therapy Optometry was voted a Readers’ Choice finalist in the optometry category.
It’s located at 526B Cumberland Rd. in Courtenay.