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What Is Behavioural Optometry?

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A woman undergoing behavioural optometry while being instructed by an eye doctor.

Behavioural optometry, also known as vision therapy, goes beyond conventional eye care to explore the dynamic relationship between vision and the brain. 

Instead of simply prescribing corrective lenses, behavioural optometry includes treating vision problems that may be related to underlying issues such as poor coordination, problems with visual perception, or difficulties with eye tracking or focus.

A Comprehensive Approach to Vision Care

At the core, behavioural optometry is a type of eye care that emphasizes the importance of the visual system’s integration with the brain and its impact on daily functioning. Unlike traditional optometry, which mainly focuses on improving visual acuity and prescribing lenses to correct refractive errors, they do not always address underlying causes of vision issues. 

On the other hand, behavioural optometry takes a more comprehensive approach to vision care by looking at factors that can affect vision. The principles of behavioural optometry look at vision not only as seeing clearly but also how your brain processes and integrates visual information. 

Behavioural optometrists use a holistic approach to vision care that believes you can train the brain to improve visual function significantly, even in people who have experienced long-term vision problems.

Behavioural Optometry Uses 

A man playing darts, a sport that requires good hand-eye coordination.

Behavioural optometry aims to address various visual issues and improve visual skills needed to succeed in learning, sports, and life. Here are some key areas where behavioural optometry can make a significant impact:

  • Learning and academic performance: Behavioural optometry can help enhance learning experiences by addressing visual factors that affect academic performance. These may include difficulty with reading, writing, and comprehension, often associated with eye teaming, tracking, and focusing issues.
  • Sports performance: Athletes rely heavily on visual skills to excel in their respective sports. Behavioural optometry can help enhance hand-eye coordination, visual tracking, depth perception, and improve performance on the field or court.
  • Workplace productivity: Individuals often face prolonged screen time and demanding visual tasks in the workplace. Behavioural optometry interventions can alleviate visual discomfort, reduce eye strain, and enhance overall productivity in the workplace.

Behavioural Optometry Treatment Methods

Your optometrist can treat various vision conditions with vision therapy or prism lenses. 

  • Vision therapy: Vision therapy is a cornerstone of behavioural optometry. It involves a series of customized in-office exercises and activities designed to improve specific visual skills. These may include eye teaming exercises, convergence training, and activities to enhance eye-tracking abilities.
  • Specialized lenses: Behavioural optometrists may prescribe specialized lenses to address unique visual challenges. These lenses can range from prisms to filters, aiming to optimize visual comfort and efficiency.
  • Visual rehabilitation: This is mainly for individuals who have experienced trauma or injury that affected their visual system, such as a concussion. Behavioural optometry offers rehabilitation services that may involve a tailored program to help restore lost visual skills and adapt to changes in vision.

Who Can Benefit from Behavioural Optometry?

Behavioural optometry is not limited to a specific age group or profession; it caters to a broad spectrum of individuals seeking to improve their visual experience and overall vision quality. Here are some groups that can particularly benefit from behavioural optometry:

  • Children with learning difficulties: Your optometrist may recommend behavioural optometry for children experiencing challenges in reading, writing, or concentrating in school. Vision therapy can help address underlying visual issues that may contribute to learning difficulties.
  • Children with childhood conditions: Behavioural therapy can improve visual skills affected by common conditions such as strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), and myopia (nearsightedness). 
  • Athletes: Anyone looking to enhance their sports performance can benefit from behavioural optometry. Improved visual skills can give athletes a competitive edge.
  • Professionals in high-visual demanding jobs: Those spending extended hours in front of screens, such as computer programmers, graphic designers, or writers, can benefit from behavioural optometry to reduce eye strain and maintain long-term visual comfort.

Clear & Comfortable Vision with Behavioural Optometry

Behavioural optometry is a comprehensive approach to vision care that emphasizes the relationship between how well the eyes work together and communicate with the brain. Through techniques like vision therapy, optometrists can help their patients develop better visual functions by improving eye coordination, eye tracking, eye teaming, and visual perception. 

The potential benefits of this approach are considerable, including improved academic performance and visual comfort, reduced eye strain and visual stress in adults, and overall improved quality of life. If you’re interested in this approach to vision care for yourself or your child, book an appointment with Milton Eye and Vision Care for a customized treatment plan to strengthen your visual system. 

Written by Dr. Ronald Nicholas Strohan

Dr. Strohan has been an integrative optometrist in the Milton, Ontario area for over 40 years and has always stayed true to his philosophy of focusing on excellent patient eye care. He has studied behavioural optometry for more than 4 decades and is passionate about providing clear vision for patients of all ages. He takes pride in offering the latest eye care products and advancements in vision therapy.
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