Behavioural Optometry is about far more than eyes, glasses and test letter charts. This complex practice takes a more holistic approach to vision issues, and involves the treatment of vision and vision information processing problems.
According to Hamilton optometrist Glenn Howell, behavioral optometrists believe your visual status and the way you interpret what you see doesn’t solely depend on how clear your eyesight is. Instead consideration is given to all visual, visual motor and visual perceptual skills.
Behavioural Optometrists are fully qualified optometrists who have undertaken extra postgraduate training and have a special interest in patients with reading and learning difficulties, traumatic brain injury, and binocular vision dysfunction.
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Research shows they can help visual skills which can make reading easier for many people, by using lenses, prisms and training of the eyes in ways that can make vision more stable.
If your child is having issues with learning at school, a Visual Information Processing assessment may be required. This test assesses how they perceives things in their visual world and includes all visual, visual-motor and visual perception skills. The test will help to determine if Vision Training could be of any benefit.
According to Howell, when assessing your child it’s best to perform a full examination of the eyes first, which allows an optometrist to check if they are using their eyes easily and effectively.
Many problems occur with school work because children’s eyes get tired too easily and they lose concentration. Vision training or glasses may be needed to support and improve children’s vision. The training is safe and easy to perform, and glasses are easy to adapt to and often not permanent.
To help your child perform better at school, it is usually best to improve vision first, then improve eye-focusing and eye-tracking next, before finally improving visual information processing.
Schools and medical professionals may refer a child to see a Behavioural Optometrist, but a referral is not necessary.
According to the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists, children should be assessed if there is a family history of vision problems, such as a turned or lazy eye, or high degrees of long or short sightedness. Parents should also make an appointment when their child begins school if their progress is significantly slower than expected, to check for vision problems which could be interfering in learning to read, or using their eyes to read and write.