Behavioural optometry is an expanded area of optometry that takes a holistic approach to vision. Behavioural optometry is used to improve visual efficiency and visual processing, thereby allowing individuals to be more responsive to visual instructions and stimuli in the work place and everyday life.
Vision is a fundamental factor in the learning process. 87% of all a child learns comes from vision, 6% through hearing and 7% from the rest of the body. The visual skills necessary for reading are
- binocular vision
- focussing ability
- precise ocular movements
- good visual perception
Binocular vision is the ability to use both eyes together simultaneously so that each eye contributes to a common image. A number of systems are responsible for producing accurate eye movements and controlling fast, slow, opposite and involuntary eye movements.
If visual processing skills are weak an individuals ability to quickly and accurately comprehend reading material may be reduced. Reading and learning often becomes easier once these skills have been improved with vision therapy.
Behavioural optometrists use an extensive array of tests to assess visual development. The results of these tests are assessed by measuring them against normal abilities at specific age and can identify if vision is a contributory factor in the specific difficulties an individual may have.
The benefits of behavioural optometry can include better co-ordination skills and greater confidence in everyday life.
Research indicated that 60% of children with learning difficulties have problems using their 2 eyes together.
Children complaint of the following symptoms may benefit from seeing a behavioural optometrist
- Fatigue when reading
- Comprehension drops after a while
- using a finger while reading
- slow word by word reading
- reversal of letters or words
- poor co-ordination
- blurred or double vision
- skips, omits or re-reads words or lines when reading
Behavioural optometry is a programme that is carefully tailored to each individual patient.
The assessment is generally followed by a programme of exercises to be performed at home for a specific number of weeks.