When someone looks at an object, they can focus both of their eyes on it due to multiple eye muscles allowing for this level of control. When the eye muscles are not controlled, it can negatively impact someone’s ability to focus.

Vision therapy is used to help people gain control over their eye muscles. There are multiple types of therapy that eye doctors may recommend. (Learn More) Wolff Wand therapy is one of these options. (Read More)

With regular practice, Wolff Wand therapy can improve eye muscle control. (Read More)

child with cross eye

What Is Vision Therapy?

For some eye conditions, corrective lenses are not enough to alleviate the problem. In these cases, vision therapy might be considered. The goal of this therapy is to retrain the eye muscles so they allow for better control.

This therapy is a type of progressive program that uses different procedures. Doctors supervise the procedures to ensure they are being performed properly. They may also assign homework for the person to do at home as part of their vision therapy program. Vision therapy is individualized to attend to the person’s unique needs.

There are numerous tools that doctors might use as part of vision therapy. These may include the following:

  • Wolff Wands
  • Therapeutic lenses
  • Filters
  • Electronic targets that have timing mechanisms
  • Prisms
  • Patches or occluders
  • Balance boards

The best tools will depend on the specific eye issues the person has. In some cases, the doctor will recommend using more than one type of vision therapy tool. How long vision therapy lasts depends on the person’s eye problems and how quickly they are responding to the therapy.

Eye Muscle Control

cartoon eye doing exercises

There are six skeletal muscles that move the eye and surround it. To produce different eye movements, these muscles work against each other.

When these muscles are not working properly, control of the affected eye can be compromised. This can result from different eye conditions. To regain control of the affected eye muscles, vision therapy is commonly used.

When someone has poor eye muscle control, it may be due to a variety of conditions. These conditions include:

  • When someone has strabismus, their eyes do not work together. When they look at an object, both eyes do not focus on it at the same time. Hypertropia, exotropia, and esotropia are all types of strabismus.
  • This is the least common strabismus type. One eye is higher than the other eye. This can cause someone to tilt their head to one side to alleviate double vision­ — an issue that is common with hypertropia.
  • This is the most common strabismus type. At least one eye will turn toward the nose.
  • This condition is also referred to as a lazy eye. It can occur as a result of strabismus. It occurs when a child prefers one eye over the other due to strabismus or another condition. As the child continues to favor one eye, the other eye essentially becomes “lazy” as a result.
  • With this type, at least one eye turns outward. It most often happens when the person is trying to look at something far away.

Wolff Wand therapy may be used for any of these conditions. It might be used alone or in conjunction with other vision therapy options.

woman with question mark on forehead

Wolff Wand Therapy

Dr. Bruce Wolff created Wolff Wands. He designed this tool to be used as a fixation target for locating and tracking activities associated with visual training and testing. Since their creation, these wands have become the standard for different convergence and retinoscopy testing procedures.

These wants have been adapted for other procedures where a type of fixation target is necessary. The wand is a lightweight aluminum rod with a ball on top. They allow the eye doctor to move their position throughout the person’s near visual eye space.

They come in either a shiny gold or a shiny silver material. This reduces the differences in accommodative demand. The reflected, minified image of the person looking at the wands allows for more detail for accommodation and fixation.

When someone is using Wolff Wand therapy, they can see where their eyes are looking in relation to their body. When the person is able to see their reflection in the wands, they know that their eyes are pointing where they should be.

The primary objective associated with Wolff Wands is to help someone to develop controlled and fluid eye movement, centering, identification, and binocularity. They are simultaneously able to center and have awareness of complete spatial volume.

couple both wearing sunglasses

Use of the Wands

Someone can use these wands when they are sitting, standing, or lying on their back. There needs to be a mirror that is three to four feet wide and full-length, opposite dissociating glasses, and an eye patch.

Initially, the person will wear the eye patch and do the activity for two minutes monocularly. The wand is moved in circles. The person is asked about what they can see. The other wand is kept at a central location while the second one is moving.

The person’s head should stay stable throughout the process. This therapy is done on both eyes to ensure greater control of the muscles.

Wolff Wand therapy is relatively simple, but it can have a profound positive effect on someone’s ability to control their eye muscles. It is often performed along with other eye muscle control exercises as part of a comprehensive therapy program.

References

What Is Vision Therapy? College of Optometrists in Vision Development.

Eye Movement Disorders. UC San Diego Health.

Muscles of the Eye. Inner Body.

Wolff Wands Fixation Targets. The Optometric Extension Program Foundation.