Behavioural Optometry

Behavioural Optometry in Newcastle

IMG_8518irfanviewedThere’s more to vision than simply reading the bottom line of an eye chart. Behavioural optometry is practiced by optometrists who understand the link between vision & performance, or between vision & behaviour. While behavioural optometry is usually thought of as paediatric (children’s) eye testing for reading difficulties, adults too can benefit from a customised behavioural optometry consultation at Custom Eyecare on Darby Street, Newcastle (previously located inside Marketown Shopping Centre).

Behavioural optometrists check for not only clarity of vision but also:

  • the ease of focussing
  • the speed of changing focus between close and far
  • the concentration required to maintain focus
  • the comfort or fatigue levels involved in vision

kids visionBehavioural optometrists often see school children who are struggling with schoolwork & learning, especially reading & literacy difficulties, due to undetected vision or focussing problems (sometimes known as ‘tracking’ problems). These children often have problems with reading fluency, comprehension, and concentration. Also, kids with ADD, ADHD, autism, developmental delay, low muscle tone, and many others, are more likely to have focussing or eye movement problems.

It’s important to note that reading glasses for children don’t work by making words look “bigger” or “clearer” – that’s because blurry vision was never the problem in the first place. Instead, they make reading easier and less tiring for those children who are having trouble maintaining focus and concentrating over time.

IMG_8559irfanviewedBehavioural optometrists also have an interest in the prevention of myopia (short-sightedness). This is an area of very active research currently. Rather than just prescribing stronger and stronger glasses for distance vision, behavioural optometrists try to treat the cause of the problem – prevention is better than the cure. We often fit short-sighted children with orthokeratology contact lenses, which have been shown to reduce the rate of myopic progression.

Pre-schoolers, toddlers and even babies can also have their eyes & vision tested using specialised techniques and equipment. There’s no need to read a letter chart.

good vision for readingOver the years many local Newcastle and Hunter Valley school children have found that their reading and school progress has improved rapidly with the behavioural optometry eyecare we provide. “Kid-friendly” appointment times such as after school and Saturday mornings are popular so please plan ahead.

We do not conduct vision therapy or vision training programs. Occasionally we do recommend simple eye exercises to be done at home. Also, we do not claim to “treat dyslexia” or “cure dyslexia”, although what’s true is that many of the children we see with focussing problems have been suspected of having dyslexia, or have dyslexia-like symptoms. We do not generally prescribe tinted (“rose coloured”) glasses for reading, although we do understand that some people happily use these already and that’s fine.

For more information, click on Australian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO). Also, there are some interesting articles here on conditions that may be detected during a kid’s eye test, such as myopia, convergence insufficiency, accommodative dysfunction, turned eyes & lazy eyes, vision and learning, etc. Another article here describes a 2014 study confirming the link between reading speed and glasses in long-sighted children. Lastly, for those interested we have now started our own list of scientific journal articles relating to vision, reading, literacy, and education.

Contact us to arrange a behavioural optometry assessment