While the use of colored light for healing dates back to the earliest times of recorded history,
light therapy for vision problems (known as chrome-orthoptics and syntonics) was pioneered during the
1920s and 1930s. The syntonizer, from the word “syntony” (to bring into balance), was developed
to deliver precise, selected light frequencies of the visible spectrum for the treatment of myopia, strabismus, amblyopia, visual fatigue, reading problems, and general binocular dysfunctions.

In 1933, the Cameron Surgical Specialty Co. produced a syntonizer of the type shown here. It consisted of a tube light source with a 40 watt vibration bulb boosted to 140 watts via a transformer. The patient viewed the colored filter combinations (predetermined by the patient’s condition) through a lens in a darkened room for a fixed period of time to enhance the coordination of the nervous system for visual skills’ improvement.

Though today’s instruments span a large range of more modern designs, syntonics as a branch of vision therapy still has many devoted supporters and is prescribed for patients who have deficits in ocular motor skills, binocularity, accommodation, visual discrimination, functional visual fields, and information processing, and for headaches.


Courtesy of The Archives & Museum of Optometry, St. Louis, MO.



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