Behavioural optometry looks at the bigger picture when it comes to vision. Rather than purely checking the clarity of sight it revolves around how effective that sight is in terms of its functionality, usefulness, relevance, and accuracy. Australian behavioural optometrist, Jacqueline Gattegno, says all of these are revealed in the way people (and children in particular) respond and react to what they see, which can determine not only how well they see, but also affect their physical health and function.
She said the behavioural optometry approach is far from the standard path followed by optometrists who base diagnoses and treatments on the results of a standard eye test for how clearly each eye sees letters which are 20ft away.
“The problem for behavioural optometrists is that even those children who get a 20/20 test result which indicates perfect acuity in both eyes, can in some instances not have the functional and perceptual vision skills necessary for learning to read, write, solve math problems, or play sport. Nor does that result necessarily lead to good performance or behaviour in the classroom, or on the sports field,” Gattegno says.
How Behavioural Optometry Tests for Glitches
Behavioural optometrists test and treat eyes by assessing attention and concentration spans, spatial relationships, performance levels and behaviour all of which, if out of sync, can be the result of a glitch in the complex visual system, and can affect how visual information is processed, delivered, received and applied.
Teamwork in the Vision System is a Must
According to Gattegno, teamwork is vital between the many different organs, pathways, nerves and neurons in the visual system. Just one hiccup can result in deficits in visual perceptual and functional skills, distorting people’s understanding of what is happening around them, how they see their place in the world, and how they fit into and function in it.
These can indicate that the two eyes are not operating properly as a team, both with the brain and with each other. And it can show in the eyes ability to focus on the same level and at the same point when directed at a static object straight ahead, follow and track one that’s in motion; and coordinate when shifting the focus smoothly during changes in distance and direction.
Common signs that these hiccups might be present are difficulty paying attention and concentrating for any length of time, avoiding activities like reading or playing sport and reluctance to engage in answering questions, joining in discussions or taking part in social activities. And those don’t only lead to poor performance and behaviour, but also result in a low self-image, confusion, and a feeling of alienation, Gattegno says.
Correcting the Dysfunctions
Vision therapy uses a number of approaches to correcting, restoring, or developing the visual skills necessary for normal sight and physical action. Depending on the situation and problem involved, correction can take the form of optical devises, special glasses or prism lenses, as well as using a training programme shared between office and home. All are designed to improve the vision skills and processing of visual information.
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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