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What is Vision Restoration Therapy?

VRT Assists in the Rehabilitation of Vision After Stroke or Brain Injury


NovaVision’s Vision Restoration Therapy, or VRT, is a restoration therapy specifically developed for patients who suffer from a visual field deficit resulting from a neurological trauma such as stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI). VRT is a prescription therapy undertaken in the comfort of a patient’s own home, clinically supported by more than 15 years of research and 20 studies with FDA 510(k) clearance to be marketed in the US.
While other rehabilitation modalities such as speech, physical and occupational therapy have been considered a standard of care for stroke and traumatic brain injury, NovaVision Vision Restoration Therapy addresses a previously unmet need for vision rehabilitation. Unlike other rehabilitation approaches that help patients compensate for their vision loss, VRT is developed to increase the sensitivity within the blind areas. Patients normally undergo VRT for six months, during which time they perform twice daily sessions six days per week, focusing and responding to light stimuli.
NovaVision provides VRT in a therapy suite with its complementary compensatory NeuroEyeCoach therapy to maximize patient benefit.

What Vision Restoration Therapy Can Accomplish

Vision Restoration Therapy after a stroke or brain injury can enhance a person’s visual field through its non-invasive program. In studies and in NovaVision’s experience, 70%1 of VRT patients showed improvements in their vision. “My vision began coming back after the first month of therapy…I passed my driving test, can read normally and enjoy driving my boat on the lake…My life is back to normal” – stroke survivor and VRT patient.

1Romano JG, et al, Visual field changes after a rehabilitation intervention: Vision Restoration Therapy, J Neurol Sci (2008), doi:10.1016/j.jns.2008.06.026 (NovaVision sponsored study)
Who is Eligible for Vision Restoration Therapy?

Most patients with visual field defects as a result of neurological trauma, who have some residual vision and no physical damage to the eye, are eligible for VRT and may benefit from the treatment. However, there are certain conditions in which VRT may not be suitable or which may interfere with the effectiveness of VRT:

  • Patients with a history of seizure disorders, especially those who are photosensitive, must NOT undergo NovaVision VRT until they have consulted with their health care professional. In patients with uncontrolled photosensitive seizure disorders, visual stimulation may have adverse effects including, but not limited to, seizures.
  • Those with significant cognitive deficits.
  • We recommend that patients suffering from acute inflammation of the eyes or central nervous system delay therapy until the acute phase is over.

Patients need to have the ability to sit upright and concentrate on a task without distraction for 15-30 minutes, should be motivated towards rehabilitation and able to commit to approximately an hour a day of therapy, six days a week. Because the treatment requires patients to be seated for extended periods, patients who have been previously diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or who may have an increased risk of experiencing DVT, should consult with their physician before initiating the VRT therapy program.

For full details of the patient requirements, contraindications, warnings and precautions, please view the Patient Requirements section.

Our Online Vision Test  screening tool is a good indicator of whether you can perform VRT successfully.

How Vision Restoration Therapy Works

The traditional view has been that the brain is hardwired in early childhood, therefore one could not expect significant recovery of function in an adult’s injured brain. Recent findings show that in fact the brain has remarkable plasticity that is retained throughout an adult’s lifetime, and hence specific therapies for both motor and visual impairments have been developed leading to significant recovery. The exact mechanism for recovery is not fully understood but it is likely to be related to pre-existing neuronal spare capacity we have in our brain.
The science behind VRT demonstrates that by repeatedly stimulating neurons that do not function properly in areas of partial injury (“transition zones”), residual vision is improved and neuronal networks, which have previously not contributed sufficiently to vision, are strengthened, a process also known as neuronal plasticity. Repetitive stimulation has proven effective in the recovery of other functions such as movements of lower limbs after stroke.
VRT is designed to strengthen the synaptic function of residual cells that have survived following acute lesions of the nervous system resulting from trauma, stroke, inflammation, or elective surgery for removal of brain tumors. By repeated activation through the course of the therapy, VRT is designed to improve the neuronal efficacy of such residual cells, i.e., patients use the program to train their impaired visual functions, and thus regain useful vision. While the patient focuses on a central fixation point on a computer screen, the VRT software controls the presentation of visual stimuli in such a manner that the transition zones receive repetitive stimulation with target stimuli whose parameters (i.e., size and luminance) are adjusted to address each patient’s unique needs. Patients are made to respond to the repetitive stimulation, such that the areas of impaired vision are repetitively activated over the course of the therapy leading to recovery of visual function.

How to Begin Vision Restoration Therapy

Although there are no age limits for the therapy, VRT is not recommended for children, due to the requirement to be able concentrate for two sessions of 15-25 minutes a day, six days a week.

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