To most people, optometrists are simply there to test eyes and possibly prescribe glasses. Those who go for regular eye examinations will also know that optometrists screen for eye health problems like glaucoma or cataracts. To the vast majority of consumers, that’s where it ends: either a person can see well, or they can’t; either they have eye-related health issues, or they don’t. But there’s more to vision than this, says Australian behavioural optometrist at Eyes in Design’s Bondi practice, Jacqueline Gattegno.
Behavioural optometry offers a proactive approach to eyesight that, in certain cases, reduces the chances of vision problems developing in the first place, and when its precepts are applied to children, its benefits can have particularly far-reaching implications.
It would be a mistake, however, to see behavioural optometry as a field that only benefits kids who need help in putting their eyes to work for them. Sportspeople, office workers, and people with neurological problems are among those who might benefit. Not everyone needs intervention from a behavioural optometrist, but those who do are likely to experience its evidence-based medical benefits.
Beyond Deciding if They Need Glasses
While behavioural optometrists like Jacqueline Gattegno are able to prescribe glasses and contact lenses when they’re needed, their qualifications and experience have progressed further to include the diagnosis and treatment of issues ranging from poor eye coordination to focusing problems, lazy eye, turned eye and difficulties in tracking texts sequentially.
Behavioural optometrists are also trained to assess what we do with information from eyes: for example, how we use it to coordinate movements, or how we synthesise visual information and auditory information. Finally, the things people use their eyes for are assessed and linked to skills that can be improved and risks that need to be combatted.
In short, behavioural optometry examines the ways in which we use our eyes, and offers therapies that include but also transcend prescription eyewear in order to help us to use vision more effectively. It can even prevent progressive deterioration in vision that may otherwise have led to a need for glasses or glasses stronger than the ones already worn.
According to the Australian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO), behavioural optometry has three goals: preventing the development or deterioration of eye and vision problems; treating the ones that are already present; and developing visual abilities, particularly those needed by children to fulfil their academic potential.
Jacqueline confirms: “From children striving to get the full benefit of their education, to active adults who realise that visual training may be as important as physical training in boosting performance, office workers who spend long hours in front of computer screens, and older people who are working to take care of their visual health, behavioural optometry can have benefits,” says Jacqueline. “It all begins with an examination in which your visual skills and needs are assessed.”
Specs, and More Than Just Specs
Apart from prescription eyewear, which is sometimes tinted to help address the impact of certain conditions on the eyes, behavioural optometry offers eye health advice, and therapeutic techniques that help with vision and vision-related challenges.
“The diagnostic methods, the therapies, and the options we offer at Eyes in Design Bondi are not unique,” says Jacqueline, “but the general public is largely unaware of them. If they don’t have problems with their eyes, they don’t need to know. But it is of concern that many adults and children are struggling with unaddressed eye-related issues.”
HEAR: Ultra106.5FM Interview with Jacqueline Gattegno – Changes in Eyesight Due to a Rise in Stress Levels
For more information on vision therapy and how it works, or to book an appointment, visit the Smart Vision website: Optometrists Sydney: Optometry Services For Children and Adults | Smart Vision; for specific information about Myopia treatment and prevention visit Myopia Prevention: Solutions, Control And Treatment In Sydney; and for detailed information about Myopia Treatment visit Orthokeratology In Sydney: The Non Surgical Alternative.
To book an appointment for a thorough eye check-up, click here or Call the Bondi clinic on (02) 9365 5047 or the Mosman clinic on (02) 9969 1600.
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