Purpose of review: Vision restoration therapy has shown promise as a treatment strategy to improve visual field deficits in patients with lesions of the brain or optic nerve. Objective measures of its efficacy, however, have remained controversial. A review of the current theories supporting the reported benefits of vision restoration therapy, and the dissenting opinions, reconsiders vision restoration therapy as an emerging therapy.
Recent findings: The benefits of vision restoration therapy have been challenged by a study suggesting that no improvement exists with careful control of fixation. Alternatively, others suggest that eye movements are not induced by vision restoration therapy. Functional imaging studies demonstrate the potential role of plasticity in vision restoration therapy. While the exact mechanism remains to be elucidated, subjective improvement in daily functioning is reported in a significant percentage of patients.
Summary: Vision restoration therapy is a noninvasive, home-based strategy for the rehabilitation of patients with visual field loss caused by structural or ischemic damage. While subjective benefits in functional status have been reported by patients following completion of the program, debate centers around the inadequacy of the methods used to document its efficacy. Until such a method is validated by carefully controlled studies, subjective improvement in visual function stands alone as evidence of vision restoration therapy's benefit.