While a typical Vision Therapy program is sequenced and catered to each individual’s needs, one component that finds its way into most (if not all) of the work that we do is syntonic phototherapy. Syntonics, at its core, is a form of light therapy that works to treat a variety of visual conditions – ranging from lazy eye, to reading difficulties, to head injury,
Practically, photo-syntonic light therapy consists of wearing a pre-selected coloured filter, for short periods of time, while either viewing a static light source or a moving target throughout space. While this may seem simple in nature, colour selection and adjustment is a rather detailed endeavor – consisting of measurements of peripheral visual function, eye focus flexibility, pupillary responses and visual posture (the eyes’ tendency to trend inwards or outwards). Initial responses to lenses are then recorded, with pre and post measurements used to determine the impact and potential modifications to treatment.
When light enters our visual system, it not only creates images via our visual cortex, but also travels throughout the brain to reach both our pineal gland and hypothalamus. These regions of the brain are responsible for managing bodily hormone production and the overall chemical balance throughout the body. Studies have demonstrated that, depending on the light chosen, differing frequencies can thereby activate our sympathetic (“fight or flight”) or parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous systems. With each presenting case, we work to collect both a proper history and clinical measurements to determine which frequency will be most effective and appropriate for guiding the visual system towards a functional and rebalanced state (termed “syntony”).
While it may initially sound abstract, I can say from experience that titrating the correct coloured filters has a profound effect on the rate of recovery from injury and the speed at which one improves visual performance during critical periods of adolescence. Additionally, we can use these filters with our sports vision training clients – as a means by which to prime and prepare the visual system for improved depth perception and peripheral awareness during game play. How the filters are selected goes beyond the scope of what this blog is meant to discuss, but I would certainly encourage any interested parties to read about the long and storied history of syntonic photo-therapy here: College of Syntonic Optometry
While syntonic-phototherapy is certainly not a panacea for management of all visual conditions, it has proven itself to work wonderfully as an adjunct to the work we do prescribing therapeutic glasses and within the Vision Therapy room.
If you’re interested to learn more about this treatment modality, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team via the contact form on our website. As always, we’d be more than happy to share!
Until next month,
Paul Rollett, OD, FCOVD