Optometric Syntonic Phototherapy, or Syntonics, is a branch of ocular science dealing with the application of specific wavelengths of light (colours) through the eyes. It has been used effectively by Optometrists, since the 1920s, in the treatment of visual dysfunctions, including strabismus (eye turn, crossed eye, wandering eye), amblyopia (lazy eye), focusing and convergence problems, learning disorders, and the after effects of stress and trauma. In recent years, Syntonics has been shown to be effective in the treatment of brain injuries and emotional disorders.
Not all retinal nerves in the eyes serve vision; some connect the retina directly to non-visual brain centres such as the hypothalamus and pineal gland. These centres influence electrical, chemical, and hormonal balances which affect all body functions including vision. Years of clinical application and research have demonstrated that certain wavelengths of light, applied by way of the eyes to these centres, can produce beneficial results in the body. The Greeks were the first to document the use of phototherapy. Currently light is used, in multiple areas of medicine on a variety of disorders; from the “bili” lights used on newborns with jaundice, to the more recent psychiatric use of light for treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In optometry the use of phototherapy to treat visual dysfunctions is called Syntonics.
Patients are diagnosed by symptoms, vision evaluation, visual/motor performance, peripheral vision sensitivity, and pupillary assessment. If appropriate, they are treated by exposure to a selected specific wavelength of light; this exposure can be in many different forms (i.e. through a syntonizer, a pair of syntonics glasses, a penlight, etc).
Controlled clinical studies by Dr. Robert Michael Kaplan and Dr. Jacob Liberman proved that the usual result of this relatively short-term treatment is improvement in visual skills, peripheral vision, memory, behavior, mood, general performance and academic achievement. They confirmed that large numbers of children with learning problems have a reduction in the sensitivity of their peripheral vision. During and after phototherapy they demonstrated improvement of peripheral vision and visual skills. Control subjects who did not receive therapy showed no improvement in their peripheral vision, symptoms or performance.
Syntonics can be used as the primary treatment, or to support other therapies to aid in the remediation of strabismus, amblyopia, accommodative or convergence problems, asthenopia, ametropia, visual attention deficit, vision-related learning and behaviour problems, and visual field constrictions associated with visual stress, brain injury, degenerative ocular disorders, and emotional trauma.