If you’ve never experienced vision therapy, then chances are slim that you’ve heard of syntonics. But I chose it as the subject of my second blog post because its significance should not be overlooked or misunderstood. Syntonics, which is a form of light therapy, serves as the starting point for nearly all vision therapy patients. Also referred to as optometric phototherapy, the practice of syntonics consists of sending frequencies of light to the brain through the eyes.
According to Dr. Ray Gottlieb and Dr. Larry Wallace in the Journal of Behavioral Optometry, “Energy medicine, which also includes different forms of light therapy, is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon used by a variety of health professionals from medical physicians to chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists and psychologists. In our view, there[in] lies the future of medicine” (Syntonic Phototherapy, 31).
A patient’s first session usually entails them staring into different frequencies of light depending on their particular visual dysfunction. Syntonics has been proven successful in the treatment of numerous visual dysfunctions such as eye turns, lazy eyes, focusing, vergence issues, and even emotional disorders and brain injuries. It proves most effective for those who suffer from headaches, head injuries, or various visual dysfunctions simultaneously. Aside from treating particular issues, syntonics broadens the visual field, which is not only includes how much we can see in our periphery but how much information our brain is actually processing.
Those with a functional visual field problem may be physically seeing their surroundings, but their brain is essentially ignoring it. I recently had an adult patient who suffered from migraines and double vision. After only one week of syntonics, her headaches were less frequent, and she commented, “I’ve never noticed all the buildings I pass on my drive to work until now!” For her and many others, syntonics is an effective alternative when conventional medicine does not work.
In addition to changing how your brain and eyes interact, syntonics also balances out your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Dr. H.R. Spitler founded syntonics in the early 1900s and named it so because “syntony” means to bring into balance. In 1933, Spitler published The Syntonic Principle, which included clinical results from syntonic practitioners and showed that 90.7% of individuals taking the treatments responded positively. We have now been clinically practicing this field of science for over 70 years! (Syntonic Phototherapy, 31).
So, what exactly does it entail? During a patient’s initial consultation, the optometrist will test their pupil. They do this by shining a penlight in their eye and observing how fast the pupil returns to normal or dilates, which is called pupillary release. If the pupil does not constrict and stay small for at least ten seconds, then that is usually a sign of a reduced functional visual field or a nervous system imbalance. (Syntonic Phototherapy, 31). The doctor will then prescribe the patient certain colors of light based on these results, their history, and symptoms.
Typically, those starting vision therapy will do syntonics for a minimum of three weeks, for at least six days a week. The patient will come in once a week for an in-office session where they sit in a darkened room and stare into a unit which emits two different frequencies of light, each for ten minutes at a time. At home, they are either given their own light unit and do the same or are given glasses in which they sit in a very bright room or outside on a sunny day. Immediately after the ten minutes is up, they close their eyes and report what they see. It is usually a mix of various colors.
This feedback, as well as performing weekly visual fields on the patient, shows us how much information they are taking in from their periphery, and essentially how effective the syntonics is on them. Other indicators include behavior changes and the reduction of their symptoms.
To learn more about syntonics, read the scientific article which I have previously mentioned by clicking the link below. To find out if you can benefit from syntonics, schedule an appointment with Dr. Taddese through our website!
-Emily Thompson, Vision Therapist