Syntonic optometry uses colored light shone into a patient's eyes to treat visual and other dysfunctions.
The founding father of syntonic optometry is Dr. Harry Riley Spitler, who developed the discipline during the 1920s and 1930s. Building on the work of earlier investigators including Edwin Babbit, Spitler studied the effects of light on human health and performance. Illness,
Practitioners of syntonic optometry claim to be able to treat or support treatment of asthenopia (eye fatigue), strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (unclear vision), ametropia (defective refraction of light), problems with focusing or converging the eyes, and visual field constrictions related to brain trauma, visual/emotional stress, or degenerative eye disorders. They also claim to be able to help correct visual attention deficit, and learning and behavior problems related to vision.
In syntonic optometry, the patient is exposed to one or more colors of light for a fixed period of time. This is done in a darkened room, with colors generated by a machine known as a syntonizer. In a typical session, a patient might absorb one color for 10 minutes, then another for an additional 10 minutes. Alternatively, just one color might be absorbed for 20 minutes. Treatment typically could involve between three and five sessions a week, for a period of four to eight weeks. In most cases, syntonics is used in conjunction with other therapeutic procedures.
The usefulness of syntonic optometry is a contentious issue, and a medical opinion should be sought in all cases of serious illness. The application of syntonic optometry to treating behavioral and learning disorders is especially controversial. Because the aftereffects of these problems can affect a child for a lifetime, it is prudent to obtain a second opinion from a university-affiliated practitioner.
Conducted properly, syntonic optometry is thought to be generally free of adverse side effects, although it is expensive.
Research & general acceptance
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, an association of medical eye specialists, states that "as with other forms of vision therapy, there is no scientifically verified evidence to support claims for syntonic optometry." The College of Syntonic Optometry acknowledges that "researchers and other professionals are still a step away from understanding the clinical methods and practice of light stimulation which syntonists have used with positive results for over a half a century." There is, however, growing acceptance in medical circles of the therapeutic effects of light, especially its usefulness in treating seasonal affective disorder.
Training & certification
The College of Syntonic Optometry, an international group based in the United States, offers training, research grants, and membership to registered optometrists. The college also offers associate member-ships to licensed educators and health care practitioners who employ phototherapy techniques. Practitioners of syntonic optometry are most common in the United States but can also be found in numerous other countries.
College of Syntomic Optometry. (717) 387-0900. http:\www.syntonicphototherapy.com.