While most of us have experience with a regular optometrist, a behavioural optometrist can seem like a total unknown. In this blog, we break down what they do and what to expect if your child is referred to one.
What is a behavioural optometrist?
A behavioural optometrist is a specialised eye-doctor who looks at the relationship between vision and behaviour. They take into account more than typical “20/20” vision, and explore how your daily life activities are impacted by your visual skills and visual processing.
What might an assessment with a behavioural optometrist look like?
An assessment with a behavioural optometrist involves a bit more than your regular eye check up. It is likely to include:
- A discussion about any relevant personal history that has led to this assessment.
- Examination of the structure and health of your eyes.
- A series of tests to assess your performance in a range of visual skills.
- After the assessment, you may receive a report with the results and recommendations.
What skills does a behavioural optometrist look at?
- Eye Movement
- Eye Teaming: The ability of the two eyes to work together as a team to create a single image.
- Accommodation: The ability of the eyes to focus and adjust to different distances.
- Binocular Fusion: The ability to combine the images from each eye into a single, three-dimensional image, which is important for depth perception and 3D vision.
- Visual Perception: The ability to interpret and make sense of visual information.
- Visual-Motor Integration: The ability to coordinate eye and hand movements.
- Visual Attention and Processing: The ability to attend to visual stimuli, filter out distractions, and process visual information.
Who do they work with?
Behavioural optometrists may collaborate with other professionals to provide comprehensive care – this could include occupational therapists, psychologists, speech pathologists and school educators.
What might the outcomes be?
- Glasses prescription (with recommendations of what activities they are needed for)
- Vision therapy – therapy to develop certain visual abilities (may include sessions or at home exercises)
- Referral to other services/professionals e.g. an occupational therapist for an evaluation of motor function
- Recommendations of environmental modifications (e.g. lighting changes, distances for reading)
Behavioural optometrists can be a meaningful part of the health professional team for your child. We hope this blog helps their role seem a little clearer.
SIENNA SMILEY (Occupational Therapist).