What is Behavioural Optometry ?
Maybe you’ve reached this page because you’d like to know a bit more about Behavioural Optometry, or maybe simply because you were curious as to what it was all about
Either way, welcome!
Here at H&H we’re delighted to offer this service and would like to be able to share our enthusiasm and knowledge with you all.
So what is Behavioural Optometry?
Behavioural Optometry is a specialised branch of Optometry dedicated to how vision affects human performance.
Even the smallest discrepancies within the visual system can have a major impact on a person’s efficiency and performance. This can be even more apparent with children where their systems are still developing.
Behavioural Optometrists don’t diagnose and treat learning disabilities or dyslexia.
They treat problems of vision function (including focussing, eye coordination and eye movements) and help with development of visual perception. Such difficulties can potentially affect a person’s ability to use their eyes for reading and computer use.
There is clear scientific evidence that vision problems are present in children with learning issues such as dyslexia, at a significantly higher incidence than in the unaffected population.Recent research shows that 63% of children with diagnosed specific learning disorders had binocular vision problems.
As a member of the British Association of Behavioural Optometrists ( http://babo.co.uk) Lucy Henning has a specialist interest in how vision affects human performance.
This overview from BABO helps to explain things a little more:
Vision and the motor visual system are our primary source for gathering information with 87% of learning occurring through the visual system. Children are usually born with the necessary hardware to allow the development of normal sensory skills, but it takes a busy childhood of play, exploration and experience to develop and train the software that controls what we take in from the world.If this software is not established properly, it can result in problems with the visual system and therefore learning. If undetected these problems can continue into adulthood.
Behavioural Optometrists will explore these processes and use a range of treatments to help their patients learn and function more efficiently.
Can this help my child?
In fact, all age groups and not just children can be helped.
How you use your vision is sometimes more important than just about how clearly you see.
If a child is struggling with reading, writing, copying down from the whiteboard, or hand eye coordination in sports, it could be because their eyes are struggling to work well together.
A few of the signs that may show a child’s eyes are not working well together are that the child may tilt or move their head while reading or writing; cover one eye when they’re reading or writing; lose their place when reading or writing; complain of tired eyes, rub their eyes or have watery eyes while reading or writing; being easily distracted or have poor concentration, causing a great deal of effort to maintain visual focus during classwork.
These sorts of vision problems can be identified and treated by a Behavioral Optometrist. A key part of the treatment that is used is Vision Therapy.
Is Vision Therapy a cure for learning disabilities?
Let’s be very clear about this: undergoing vision therapy is not a cure for learning disabilities.
However, helping your child develop efficient visual skills is just as important as working on fine motor, gross motor and coordination skills, all of which would help your child gain mastery in specific areas of school life.
Just as you would want to strengthen weak hand and core muscles to give your child a better chance in the classroom, you would want to strengthen functional eye skills if they are weak.
Children who struggle with basic eye functioning often tire easily in class, which can be incorrectly labelled as ADHD.
They tend to fall behind in their work, and don’t perform at their potential in reading and writing tasks.
If this sounds like your child, please feel free to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01932 829868) to discuss matters in further detail
What is Vision Therapy?
Vision Therapy is a type of physiotherapy for the eyes.
It is a highly effective non-surgical treatment for many visual problems such as lazy eye, double vision, convergence insufficiency and some reading and learning disabilities.
Customised to your child’s needs, it includes a mixture of in-office activities and daily, home practice.
Does it hurt?
No! None of the activities involved will hurt. Sometimes our eyes can feel a little bit uncomfortable when they need to work a bit harder than they’re used to, but this feeling doesn’t last for very long.
How long does it take?
The length of time that it takes for Vision Therapy to work effectively can vary from around 6-18 months.
Vision Therapy involves regular in-office appointments combined with daily home practice
Does it really need to be practised daily?
Ideally, yes! We totally understand that life is busy, and very often children have a lot of commitments to a variety of extra-curricular activities. However, not doing daily practice will have a negative impact on the progress and effectiveness of the therapy programme. Vision therapy requires a significant investment of time, energy and enthusiasm by everyone involved!
There is conclusive scientific evidence showing that repeatedly practising skills over time helps to develop the neural pathways in the brain. To help improve performance, frequent practice is essential. This practice needs to include lots of feedback to ensure that activities are being done correctly so that they enhance the right things.
Is it boring to do?
Hopefully not! We aim to give every child an interesting mix of activities to work on.
Here at H&H we have a very strong emphasis on being positive and enthusiastic with everyone that we work with.Yes, sometimes things can be very frustrating for all of us, but we’ve found that patience and understanding are key factors in helping a child to get the best from their Vision Therapy activities.
Can adults have it?
Many people think vision therapy is only for children. However, adults have just as much need for this type of support as children. In fact, vision therapy can be more effective for adults as they’re usually more motivated to improve their visual system.
Is it available on the NHS?
Behavioural Optometry is only available privately and is not funded by the NHS.
Will my private health insurance provider cover the cost?
It can vary, but generally it seems that in the UK only treatment overseen by an Ophthalmologist is covered
Like to find out more?
Whether it’s simply about prices and appointment availability, or something more detailed about any difficulties that are being experienced by you or your child, we are very happy to help.