Here at Specialeyes Newcastle, we are passionate about all aspects of optometry and we especially love assisting our patients through behavioural optometry. Susan Walton OAM is a highly experienced behavioural optometrist who became an inaugural Fellow of the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO) in 1988. For over 3 decades, Susan has assisted thousands of patients, young and not so young, to get the very best from their visual system.
So, what is behavioural optometry?
The focus of behavioural optometry (also called neurodevelopmental optometry) is a holistic approach to vision. Behavioural optometrists treat vision as a system and look at all the demands placed on the visual system for both children and adults. For children, over 80% of what they learn in the classroom is learned through their visual system. If their visual system is functioning below optimum level, their ability to learn and participate in classroom activities can be affected. This can sometimes be mistaken for a learning problem.
For the visual system to be functioning at tip-top level, a range of visual skills are needed and they include:
- The eyes being able to work together to follow a line of print (called ‘eye tracking’)
- The eyes being able to work together at both near and far distances (called ‘eye teaming’)
- The eyes being able to focus together in a controlled way
- The eyes blending images simultaneously (called ‘binocular vision’)
- The skills of visual perception – such as visualising and sequencing information and images.
For children, behavioural optometry can give a big boost to reading fluency. It is especially helpful to children who may suffer from amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (turned eye) through a combination of glasses and vision therapy.
Can behavioural optometry help adults?
Absolutely! Many adults experience difficulties with their visual system and this requires careful consideration of their work, sport and lifestyle habits to optimise visual processing and vision comfort. The holistic approach of behavioural optometry also assists patients with visual issues resulting from illness or injury such as Parkinson’s Disease, concussion, head injuries and whiplash. At Specialeyes Newcastle, we provide tailored vision therapy programs for both children and adults – and you can learn more about our approach to vision therapy here.