Keep Your Eye on the Ball: How Vision Therapists Use Marsden Balls to Help Their Patients

boy playing baseball with father

A Marsden ball might not look very impressive, but this little ball offers big benefits for athletes and children affected by strabismus, ambylopia and other conditions. Marsden ball exercises are just one of the techniques that vision therapists use to help patients make better use of their vision.

What Is a Marsden Ball?

Marsden balls are used in used for a variety of vision therapy exercises. The hollow rubber balls are about four inches in diameter and dangle from the ceiling on a string attached to an i-hook. Depending on the exercise, the ball may feature letters, numbers, colors or a combination of letters and colors.

Why Are Marsden Balls Used?

Every initial visit to a vision therapist involves a thorough examination to identify issues that may prevent you from using your vision fully. Once your therapist identifies the source of your problem, he or she creates a treatment plan that includes both low-tech and high-tech therapies, including computer software, prisms, lenses, filters, games and exercises. The Marsden ball, one of the low-tech options, is often used if you or your child has one of these problems or conditions:

  • Difficulty using both eyes together
  • Hand-eye coordination problems
  • Poor visual tracking skills
  • Amblyopia (lazy eye)
  • Strabismus (crossed eyes)
  • Problems with visual spatial processing
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Autism spectrum disorders

Marsden ball exercises can also help an athlete improve his or her performance. Hand-eye coordination and tracking are essential skills for many types of sports. For example, poor tracking skills may make it difficult to tell where a baseball or softball will land. The exercises also improve peripheral vision, allowing an athlete to see action on the sides of the field or court without turning his or her head.

How Does the Marsden Ball Work?

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. During Marsden ball exercises, the vision therapist sets the ball in motion and asks the patient to perform a variety of tasks, such as calling out the letters they see on the ball. While performing the exercises, patients are asked to keep their heads still and move their eyes to identify letters or colors. Marsden ball exercises are sometimes performed on wobble boards or other devices that help improve balance. Depending on the exercises, patients are asked to sit, stand, walk or lie down while keeping their focus on the balls. The balls can be raised or lowered as needed.

Marsden ball exercises are just one vision therapy technique that can help improve common vision disorders, make reading easier and improve sports performance. Would you like to find out if vision therapy can help you? Call us to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

Optometry Times: Vision Therapy: A Top 10 Must-Have List

http://optometrytimes.modernmedicine.com/optometrytimes/content/tags/brock-string/vision-therapy-top-10-must-have-list?page=full

Vision Care Institute: Be the Best You Can Be

http://www.thevisioncareinstitute.co.uk/sites/default/files/private/uk/pdf/07%20PerformanceVisionSportModule3.pdf

Review of Optometry: Treating Patients on the Autism Spectrum, 4/5/11

https://www.reviewofoptometry.com/article/treating-patients-on-the-autism-spectrum

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

9:00 am-5:30 pm

Tuesday:

11:00 am-7:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 am-5:30 pm

Thursday:

9:00 am-5:30 pm

Friday:

9:00 am-5:30 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Locations

Find us on the map

Testimonial

Review From Our Satisfied Patient

  • "Dr. Monterola and her staff were both friendly and professional. They instantly saw me when I arrived. My eyes were examined and glasses picked in 45 minutes. I highly recommend Greenwood Optical."
    Andy Meyer / Seattle, WA

Featured Articles

Read up on informative topics

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Why do I need to see an eye care provider? Many “silent” diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetes, can only be detected through regular eye exams. When these conditions are discovered earlier rather than later, they become easier to treat or manage, allowing for better long-term preservation of eyesight. ...

    Read More
  • Pediatric Ophthlamology

    Ophthalmology addresses the physiology, anatomy and diseases of the eyes. Pediatric ophthalmology focuses on the eyes of children. Pediatric ophthalmologists examine children’s eyes to see if they need corrective lenses or other treatments to improve their vision. Training for Pediatric Ophthalmologists Pediatric ...

    Read More
  • Allergies

    Caused by the same irritants as hay fever, runny nose, coughing, and sneezing, eye allergies commonly affect those who suffer from other allergy symptoms. Not only do eye allergies cause discomfort, but they can also interfere with daily activities. Eye Allergy Causes Medically referred to as allergic ...

    Read More
  • Learning-Related Vision Problems

    Learning disabilities may include dyslexia, math disorder, writing disorder, auditory processing deficits, or visual processing deficits. Although each child with a learning disability is unique, many also have associated visual problems. Addressing these vision disorders may alleviate some symptoms ...

    Read More
  • UV Radiation and Your Eyes

    Optometry warnings about the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation on our eyes have not yet reached the degree of public awareness of that of skin damage. Yet, the sun can be just as damaging upon our eyes with unprotected exposure. Short-term exposure to very bright sunlight can result in a type ...

    Read More
  • How To Protect Your Eyes While Wearing Halloween-Themed Contact Lenses

    Spooky novelty contact lenses can make your Halloween costume even scarier, but are they safe? ...

    Read More
  • Fuchs' Corneal Dystrophy

    Fuchs' dystrophy (pronounced fooks DIS-truh-fee) is an eye disease characterized by degenerative changes to the cornea’s innermost layer of cells. The cause for Fuchs' dystrophy is not fully understood. If your mother or father has the disease, then there is roughly a 50 percent chance that you will ...

    Read More
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    One of the leading causes of vision loss in people who are age 50 or older is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This common eye condition leads to damage of a small spot near the center of the retina called the macula. The macula provides us with the ability to clearly see objects that are straight ...

    Read More
  • Diabetic Eye Diseases

    Diabetes is a condition that involves high blood sugar (glucose) levels. This can affect many parts of the body, including the eyes. One of the most common diabetic eye diseases is diabetic retinopathy, which is also a leading cause of blindness in American adults. Diabetic Retinopathy Diabetic retinopathy ...

    Read More
  • Presbyopia

    Somewhere around the age of 40, most people’s eyes lose the ability to focus on close-up objects. This condition is called presbyopia. You may start holding reading material farther away, because it is blurry up close. Reading suddenly gives you eyestrain. You might wonder when manufacturers started ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles