Physical Therapy and Vision Integration FAQs

Reposted with permission from

Why do we integrate with Optometrists?

The visual system plays a large role in giving our central nervous system the information it needs for how to move or hold yourself upright.  Restricted movements of the body or imbalanced postural patterns that do not improve can be associated with poor control, instability, and/or imbalance of the musculoskeletal system and the visual system.  If this is the case addressing both the visual system, and musculoskeletal system together is necessary to fully improve restricted movement or poor postural strategies.  Therefore, we have a select handful of Optometrists that we work directly with, who understand and respect the need to work together for the good of our patients.  For some of our patients, if we do not address this factor our outcomes are limited.

When would it be an appropriate treatment for me?

If you have a strong pattern of postural imbalance or chronically restricted movement patterns that have not improved or continue to recur following appropriate therapeutic intervention and these symptoms are related to upright postural or movement activities you may have a visual component to why you are not getting better.  Some typical symptoms we see with people who have vision integration needs include: intermittent chronic headaches, head pressure or “fullness” of the head, dizziness, neck tension during or following computer use, stomach irritability and nauseousness associated with position or environmental changes, or unexpected imbalance or instability when walking, reaching or turning, along with other musculoskeletal complaints such as back, hip or knee pain, and shoulder blade or neck discomfort.  In these cases the visual system may be giving the musculoskeletal system imbalanced or poor information to make good judgements about which muscles to use for movement or posture.  This can be changed and affected with eyewear.

How can vision eyewear enhance movement and reduce these symptoms?

Once your Physical Therapist has assessed how you walk, move, breathe, or sit and stand, and has decided that your visual system may be influencing those patterns of activity an integrated appointment with one of the optometrists we work with is set up.  Initially (probably prior to this session) the Physical Therapist will determine what other influencing factors may need to be addressed including looking at your feet/footwear and bite relationship which also has a strong postural input.  Once the PT is satisfied with your position utilizing whatever tools are needed, the optometrist will address your visual needs initially in a standing position.  Then the PT and optometrist will work together to fine tune the prescription with some subtle changes that will reduce and inhibit patterns of movement that are undesirable based on some of the objective and subjective testing they will do with you.   The end result will be a prescription that you can wear for upright postural retraining that allows you to not only see well but move better at the same time.  This will unlock the door for you to now re-learn normal movement and postural strategies that had not been able to be addressed up to that point. Sometimes a second prescription will be needed for peri-personal, computer or reading activities. This will be addressed with your team as well.  


The main purpose of these glasses will be to help you sense your perception in space differently to allow you to move better, without sacrificing your clarity.

How likely am I to succeed with an integrated vision program?

Success is likely to be very high if you are able to follow the recommendations that are made regarding your vision eyewear and the other pieces to your program.  Success and symptom relief are likely when, and only when, you are able to learn and train new-movement patterns.  Follow-up with your PT after receiving your eye wear will be paramount to your progress.  The vision eyewear is just a tool, however for some a necessary tool, to help you move forward in your program.

Your eyes do more than just help you see.  They can help you move better as well.

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