Behavioural and Paediatric optometry concentrates on how vision affects our behaviour. Namely how vision affects learning in school-aged children. We still provide comprehensive eye examinations for children and adults and assess the need for prescriptive eye wear such as glasses and/or contact lenses. In addition, we approach the eye examination with a consideration of the full development of a child’s visual process through growth and in context with the other senses.
There are key behavioural signs and performance that are displayed when a visual problem is present, such as slow reading speed, skipping words when reading, or headaches just to name a few.
These examinations look beyond just reading letters on a chart (just because a child can see 20/20 doesn’t mean that they are doing so efficiently). The behavioural examination includes assessment of a person’s focusing ability, eye co-ordination, depth perception, eye muscle action, eye tracking and side vision.
The examination may also include an assessment for detection of Visual Information Processing delays. Visual Information Processing is the process of understanding what we see, and involves communication between the eyes and brain. Specific areas that are testing are Visual Spatial Skills, Visual Analysis Skills, Eye-hand co-ordination and Eye Tracking Skills. Vision Therapy is the usual treatment following the finding of a Visual Information Processing Delay.
To become qualified to assess and manage learning-related visual problems, some optometrists undertake further training in the area of behavioural optometry with the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO) or the Optometric Extension Program (OEP) following their university degree.