The Vision Therapy Clinic provides treatment for children and adults with eye teaming, focusing and tracking disorders. These visual conditions include but are not limited to convergence insufficiency, accommodative insufficiency, strabismus, amblyopia and saccadic eye movement (or ocular motor) dysfunction.

Learn more: Vision Therapy Clinic

These visual diagnoses may occur in normal healthy people or they may be acquired in patients who have had a maild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or concussion. People with these visual conditions often have symptoms of blur, double vision, headaches, frequent loss of place, poor reading comprehension and eye strain while reading. Often, young patients will avoid reading to reduce the symptoms related to the use of their eyes. Many visual conditions related to the use of eye muscles respond well to vision training. 

To learn more or make an appointment, call 205.934.3058.

Vision Therapy FAQ

How do I know if I need vision therapy?

You may need vision therapy if you’ve already had your eyes checked with a dilated eye exam for glasses but are still having symptoms of eye strain, headaches, double vision, or blur with reading and near work. You may also benefit from vision therapy if you’ve developed visual symptoms following a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion. If you haven’t had a routine dilated eye exam, it’s important to do this first. You may need an updated glasses prescription or have an eye health problem that is affecting your vision. If your doctor detected an eye teaming or focusing problem during your exam or if you continue to have symptoms even with your best glasses, you may have an eye muscle problem that would benefit from therapy. A evaluation by one of our doctors can determine if vision therapy is an option for you.

How does vision therapy work?

Vision therapy involves a combination of weekly in-office and home eye exercises to retrain the visual system to work more efficiently and accurately to relieve symptoms. The length of therapy is individual and is dependent on each patient’s diagnosis and the severity of symptoms. The exercises involve the use of lenses, prisms, eye patches and other instruments to teach better control of eye focusing and coordination.

Vision therapy used at UAB Eye Care is based on studies supported by the National Institutes of Health and other research results, in addition to the clinical expertise of residency-trained doctors.

What conditions can be treated with vision therapy?

Convergence Insufficiency (CI)

This condition occurs when the eyes have difficulty looking inward together for long periods of reading or near work. The eyes want to drift apart while reading and the reader must use extra effort to keep the eyes both pointed on the page. This extra effort can cause symptoms like blurry vision, headaches, double vision and fatigue with reading and near work. UAB was part of an NIH study that showed that vision therapy was a very effective treatment for this condition.

Exotropia

This is a condition where an eye drifts outward, away from the nose. Sometimes exotropia happens infrequently and other times it is constant. This condition may cause double vision and may be bothersome to patients because others notice that one eye doesn’t appear straight. There are different ways to treat exotropia including surgery and/or vision therapy. Your doctor will be able to determine which treatment will work best for you.

Accommodative Insufficiency

Each eye has a small lens inside of it that adjusts focus, like a camera lens, to make vision clear at different distances. While looking far away, the muscles around the lens relax to give you clear vision. While reading or doing close work, the muscles around the lens must tighten for the image to be clear. For patients with accommodative insufficiency, it is difficult to keep the muscles tight for near focus. These patients must work hard to see close things clearly and may report headaches, fatigue, and blur with prolonged reading. Accommodative insufficiency may be treated with reading glasses or therapy. Your doctor will be able to determine which treatment will work best for you.

People over 40 years will begin to notice a gradual decrease in their ability to see near work. This is not accommodative insufficiency but rather a normal aging process that causes the lens in the eye to lose its ability to adjust focus. This does not improve with therapy and reading glasses are needed.

Ocular Motor Dysfunction

People with ocular motor dysfunction have difficulty accurately directing their eyes from one place to another. This can cause difficulty moving both eyes together across the page while reading which can cause frequent loss of place. This can also make it difficult to find information on a busy background like copying information from the board at school or completing worksheets. Sometimes people with ocular motor dysfunction have difficulty tracking a moving object like hitting a ball with a bat. Vision therapy may be helpful by improving the accuracy of tracking skills and is commonly recommended for patients with ocular motor dysfunction.

Amblyopia

This is often called “lazy eye” because one or both eyes doesn’t see very well even with the best pair of glasses. The eye/eyes are healthy, but something interfered with the normal visual development when the patient was younger, resulting in poor vision. Treatment for amblyopia may include wearing a patch or using strong dilating drops in the “good” eye to give the weaker eye some practice. Occasionally, additional therapy may be recommended if the vision doesn’t improve with patching or drops alone. Recent studies show that specialized computerized games may also be effective. Click here to learn more about UAB’s participation in this new research.

There are many other conditions affecting eye teaming, tracking, and focusing that may also be treated with vision therapy. Your doctor will be able to determine if vision therapy is appropriate for you.

My child has diagnosed learning disabilities. Can vision therapy help?

Vision therapy cannot cure learning disabilities. The goal of vision therapy is to eliminate visual problems that may make reading difficult. If the doctor determines that your child’s eyes are functioning accurately and efficiently, the doctor may recommend further evaluations with local reading and educational specialist.

Patient and Visitor Information

Emergencies

If you have an emergency after normal business hours (Monday - Friday, 8 am to 5 pm) or during a holiday, please call (205) 975-2020. You will hear instructions on how to contact the on-call doctor.

If you call after hours and it is not an emergency, you can leave a message. Your call will be returned as soon as possible.

Fees, Insurance, and Billing

UAB Eye Care accepts many medical insurance plans, including BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama, Medicare, Medicaid and VIVA. We are also a provider for vision plans such as VSP, Southland, Avesis, Superior, and Vision Care Direct.

Call (205) 975-2020 for more information.

Online Patient Registration and Registration Portal

In order to expedite the appointment check in process, you can register as a UAB Eye Care patient.

Register as a New Patient

If you are an established patient, you can access your patient portal.

Patient Portal

Patient Forms

UAB Student and Employee Benefits

At UAB Eye Care, you’re family. We want to be the home for all your eye care needs.

Benefits for UAB Students

UAB Eye Care provides exclusive discounts for UAB undergraduate and graduate students. Schedule your visit with us and receive:

  • Waived out-of-pocket expenses up to a total of $30 for an annual comprehensive eye exam
  • Waived contact lens evaluation fee ($40) for patients currently wearing lenses and doing well
  • A 25 percent discount on frames and lenses of eyeglasses and sunglasses (some restrictions apply)
  • A 50 percent discount on all contact lens fitting fees

Benefits for UAB Employees

  • Employees covered by Viva Health or VSP insurance are eligible to receive an eye exam with copay. We also accept most other insurances. Call for details.
  • Services received at UAB Eye Care are eligible for payroll deduction (excludes UAB Health Services Foundation).
  • Call (205) 934-5668 to receive express appointment services.

Note: UAB Student and UAB Employee discounts cannot be combined.

What to Bring to your Appointment

In order to help your optometrist assess your general health and the health of your eyes, please bring these items with you.

  • Your insurance card(s)
  • If you need a referral from your primary care physician, you must obtain it before you can be examined.
  • Your driver's license
  • A list of your current doctors
  • A list of any current health problems
  • A detailed list of medications you are taking
  • All eyeglasses and/or your contact lenses, and any previous eye prescriptions from the past two years.

You may also want to bring a list of questions or problems you may have so that we can answer any concerns during your appointment.

Schedule an Appointment

Call (205) 975-2020 or schedule your appointment online.

Directions and Parking

UAB Eye Care is conveniently located in the heart of the UAB campus at 1716 University Blvd and offers free, dedicated parking for our clinic’s patients in a lot adjacent to our building. Street parking may also be available, and UAB employees or downtown Birmingham residents may be able to walk to our clinic.

From I-65/University Boulevard intersection: Head north on University Boulevard. Continue north approximately one mile and stay in the left lane. Turn left into our parking lot just before 18th Street South. Press the intercom button at the gate, and tell the operator your name. You will then be given access to the parking lot. Note: Do not take the driveway for parking at the Eye Foundation Hospital, located to the right of the UAB Eye Care driveway.

From Red Mountain Expressway: Exit the Red Mountain Expressway onto University Boulevard heading south. Turn right into our parking lot just past 18th Street South. The parking entrance is the second driveway on the right. Press the intercom button at the gate, and tell the operator your name. You will then be given access to the parking lot. Note: Do not take the driveway for parking at the Eye Foundation Hospital, located to the right of the UAB Eye Care driveway.