Syntonics is the Optometric application of various frequencies (colors) of light into the eyes to facilitate the treatment of a number of visual deficits. Though the use of colored light treatment has been used in the United States for over 100 years it is only within the last two decades that scientific research has been able to “illuminate” some of the cellular physiology attributed to light
What is Syntonics?
Syntonics or optometric phototherapy, is the branch of ocular science dealing with the application of selected light frequencies through the eyes. It has been used clinically for over 70 years in the field of optometry with continued success in the treatment of visual dysfunctions, including strabismus (eye turns), amblyopia (lazy eye), focusing and convergence problems, learning disorders, and the aftereffects of stress and trauma. In recent years, Syntonics has been shown to be effective in the treatment of brain injuries and emotional disorders.
Light is essential to life. Our planet revolves around the sun and all life on earth is sustained by sunlight. The Greeks were the first to document the use of phototherapy. Currently light is used on a variety of disorders from the “bili” lights used on jaundiced newborns to the more recent psychiatric use of while light for treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In optometry the use of phototherapy to treat visual dysfunctions is called Syntonics.
Interest in the effect of light on the body intensified earlier this century. Most of the current therapeutic techniques used in syntonics are based on the work done by Dr. Harry Riley Spitler in the 1920s and 1930s. Dr. Spitler, who had both optometric and medical degrees, began researching and using phototherapy in 1909. Spitler, the author of “The Syntonic Principle”, conceived the principles for a new science that he called “Syntonics”. Syntonics, from the word syntony (to bring into balance), refers physiologically to a balanced, integrated nervous system.
Certain biochemical conditions in the brain need to be present before effective cortical plasticity and new functions can occur. Neurotransmitters trigger this biochemistry and allow for additional synoptic connections to initiate movement and growth in new directions. Colored light therapy can act as a powerful tool to stimulate the biochemistry of the brain through the visual system by way of the retinal-hypothalmus brain connection.
- Blurred or fluctuating vision
- Eye turn or lazy eye
- Double vision
- Eye strain or fatigue
- Reduced peripheral vision
- Glare or light sensitivity
- Night vision problems
- Poor concentration or attention span
- Reading problems
- Reduced academic performance
- Poor coordination or balance
- Reduced athletic performance
- Driving or depth perception problems
- Job performance or sustained near task difficulties
History of Stress Trauma
- Illness: chronic or severe
- Allergies: chronic or environmental
SYNTONIC PHOTOTHERAPY may be today’s most advanced clinical science in light therapy. Since the 1920′s it has been used effectively by optometrists to treat patients who have inefficient visual function.
Since eighty percent of learning occurs by way of the eyes, inefficient visual function can adversely affect all aspects of one’s life, including academic achievement, athletic performance, proficiency at work, and homemaker.
Light therapy is also commanding respect in the medical community as its benefits are investigated in the treatment of jet lag, PMS, sleep disorders and conditions related to the body’s daily rhythms. Exposure to certain colors has also been found to affect behavior, mood and physiological functions.
Patients are diagnosed by symptoms, vision evaluation, visual/motor performance and peripheral vision sensitivity. They may have blurred vision, a crossed or lazy eye, double vision or poor academic achievement. If appropriate, they are treated by way of their eyes with selected visible light seen as colors.
Not all retinal (light-sensitive) nerves in the eyes serve vision. Some connect the retina directly to non-visual brain centers such as the hypothalamus and pineal gland. These centers influence electrical, chemical and hormonal balances which affect all body functions including vision. Years of clinical application and research have demonstrated that certain selected light frequencies (colors), applied by way of the eyes to these centers, can produce beneficial results in the body.
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.
In 1985 psychiatry discovered light therapy. In medical clinics throughout this country and around the world, many individuals are now receiving exposures to bright light as treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Syntonics can be used as the primary treatment or to support other therapies to aid in the remediation of strabismus, amblyopia, accommodative/convergence problems, asthenopia, ametropia, visual attention deficit, vision-related learning and behavior problems, and visual field constrictions associated with visual stress, brain injury, degenerative ocular disorders, and emotional trauma.