Clinical test responses to different orthoptic exercise regimes in typical young adults

Horwood,A, Toor,S. Ophthalmic & Physiological Optics 2014, 34(2), 250-262. Published online 29 JAN 2014 DOI: 10.1111/opo.12109

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  • Exercises targeting convergence and accommodation separately were more effective in improving orthoptic test results than using “relative” methods where they are exercised together. Effort and instructions are as important as the exercises themselves.


The relative efficiency of different eye exercise regimes is unclear, and in particular the influences of practice, placebo and the amount of effort required are rarely considered. This study measured conventional clinical measures following different regimes in typical young adults.


A total of 156 asymptomatic young adults were directed to carry out eye exercises three times daily for 2 weeks. Exercises were directed at improving blur responses (accommodation), disparity responses (convergence), both in a naturalistic relationship, convergence in excess of accommodation, accommodation in excess of convergence, and a placebo regime. They were compared to two control groups, neither of which were given exercises, but the second of which were asked to make maximum effort during the second testing.


Instruction set and participant effort were more effective than many exercises. Convergence exercises independent of accommodation were the most effective treatment, followed by accommodation exercises, and both regimes resulted in changes in both vergence and accommodation test responses. Exercises targeting convergence and accommodation working together were less effective than those where they were separated. Accommodation measures were prone to large instruction/effort effects and monocular accommodation facility was subject to large practice effects.


Separating convergence and accommodation exercises seemed more effective than exercising both systems concurrently and suggests that stimulation of accommodation and convergence may act in an additive fashion to aid responses. Instruction/effort effects are large and should be carefully controlled if claims for the efficacy of any exercise regime are to be made.