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Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more about how a Behavioural Optometrist is different and how they can help?

Here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions.

Click the headings on the left to change the questions.

What is a Behavioural Optometrist?

A Behavioural Optometrist has an interest in vision that extends beyond just how clearly you can see in the distance and the health of your eyes.

A Behavioural Optometrist understands that the eyes do not work independently but are connected to each other and to the rest of your body through complicated connections and pathways in your brain.   Your vision is impacted by your development as a child, how you use your eyes when you are growing up, how much time you spend outdoors, stress levels, nutrition, medications and any health issues that you may have.  All of these things need to be considered when testing anyone’s eyes.

A Behavioural Optometrist understands that vision is one of the most important tools you have in your life and if your vision doesn’t work easily and efficiently then it can greatly impact your quality of life and what you can achieve.

For more explanation, watch this short video:

Why choose a Behavioural Optometrist?

A Behavioural Optometrist:

  • explores how someone’s eyes work in the distance but also how they work when reading or using various types of technology
  • ensures that the focus, movements and teaming of the eyes are working efficiently and have the stamina for everything that you want them to do
  • manages amblyopia and strabismus (turned eyes)
  • assesses vision processing skills
  • provides vision therapy services
  • ensures vision development in children is progressing as it should and is not impacting their ability to learn
  • works with children and adults with the vision problems that can co-exist with learning difficulties, dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Parkinsons, developmental delays and special needs and with those vision problems that can occur as a result of a stroke, head injury or concussion
  • takes a holistic approach and uses information from teachers and other professionals to understand everything that is of concern to the person
  • understands the health of the eye and how your body health impacts eyes

Are all Behavioural Optometrists the same?

A Behavioural Optometrist may often have an area of interest that they enjoy learning more about throughout their careers.  This could be children’s vision, sports vision, education and learning difficulties, stroke, head injury, Parkinson’s or even preventing short sightedness.

Is Behavioural Optometry just for kids?

No, Behavioural Optometry is for everyone young or old who wants to look after all aspects of their vision.

What is the difference between an ACBO Fellow and an ACBO member?

An ACBO Fellow has completed the Fellowship process which involves a minimum of 3 years extra study on vision and how it develops and works.  It is the highest qualification currently available in Behavioural Optometry.

Do I need a referral to see a Behavioural Optometrist?

No referral is necessary to see an optometrist.

Are the services provided by a Behavioural Optometrist covered by Medicare or Private Health Fund?

Rebates on optometry services and treatments can be covered by Medicare or Private Health Insurance. You are best to discuss your individual requirements with you Optometrist so that you are fully informed about possible out of pocket expenses.

Why are services sometimes not fully covered by Medicare or a Private Health Fund?

Medicare provides rebates on eye examinations.  We recommend that you discuss fees and charges involved in your care with the optometrist to ensure that you understand the fees and charges involved.

What does vision have to do with learning?

A recent award winning study done in QLD in 2016 indicates that on a typical school day for Grade 5 – 6 students, around 70% of the school day is spent doing learning tasks that involve the eyes bringing in the information.  It is so very important then to make sure that every part of a child’s vision is developing well from the ability to see detail to how the eyes team, aim and focus.  In this way your child stands a much better chance of performing well in the demands of a modern classroom.

What is vision processing testing?

Vision Processing testing checks how well the brain is understanding the pictures that the eyes are sending through. A baby is not born with the ability to understand the pictures from their eyes and vision processing skills develop as the child develops. If your vision processing development is out of sync with your age and grade level then learning in a classroom can be very hard.

Do you test for and diagnose dyslexia in children and adults?

No, Psychologists test for and diagnose dyslexia. A Behavioural Optometrist does not diagnose dyslexia. The meaning of the word dyslexia is “a dysfunction in reading” so a Behavioural Optometrist will test, diagnoses and help with any visual problems that may be causing added difficulties when reading.

How could a Behavioural Optometrist help in treating someone with dyslexia?

A full assessment done by a Behavioural Optometrist will identify if there are any vision problems that can affect reading ability.   By managing any visual problems that can impact reading such as not being able to turn the eyes inward (convergence insufficiency) or having one eye optically different to the other (anisometropia), we can be of assistance to a person with dyslexia but are clearly not treating the dyslexia.

What is vision therapy and vision training?

Vision therapy or Vision Training are terms that mean the same thing. Vision therapy is a series of exercises or activities that allow a child or adult to develop important skills that will assist them with focusing, eye movements or interpreting the pictures that are being sent through from the eye to the brain (vision processing).

How could vision therapy help my child to read and write?

Good vision, efficient tracking eye movements and accurate interpretation of what is read are all important if a child is to read well. If any of these skills are not appropriately developed, they can hold a child back from reading as well as they could. A Behavioural Optometrist will identify which skills are underdeveloped for a child’s age and provided vision therapy to help develop them.

 Can vision therapy help with poor handwriting?

Yes. Assessment of visual motor skills is part of what can be done with a behavioural optometrist.  Appropriately developed visual motor skills are important for neat handwriting.  If a child’s visual motor skills are underdeveloped, vision therapy exercises can be of assistance with the development of handwriting.

Has this got something to do with brain plasticity?

Most of how and what we see happens in our brains not our eyes. We know that we can train our brains to do things differently which is known as brain plasticity.  Vision is part of what happens in your brain and so part of what can be changed.  This is usually done through a vision therapy programme.

Why have I never heard of a Behavioural Optometrist before?

Behavioural Optometrists are also sometimes called Developmental, Neuro-Developmental or Paediatric Optometrists.

I’ve seen an ophthalmologist and they said everything was fine. Why is the teacher recommending that we see you?

Ophthalmologists are doctors who do a great job caring for the health of the eye.  They diagnose all eye diseases and carry out surgery on the eye. If the eye health has been given the all clear by an ophthalmologist then a teacher may suggest a Behavioural Optometrist who can look at other functional vision problems not related to eye disease or eye health that can cause a child to have problems with learning in school.

Why has the Behavioural Optometrist asked me or my child to wear glasses when I can see just fine?

Glasses can also be prescribed for many different things.  Everyone is very familiar with the prescribing of glasses to help you see clearer but glasses can also be prescribed to help eyes turn inward or outward better, to balance up one eye that is working differently or to prevent tired eyes after long hours of computer work.   An good optometrist will always explain to you the reason that they have recommended a glasses prescription and it could be for something other than just seeing small things far away clearly.

My child isn’t naughty and doesn’t behave badly so why would I see a Behavioural Optometrist?

A behaviour is anything that you notice a person doing.  Rubbing your eyes is a behaviour, getting too close to your book when reading is a behaviour, covering one eye is a behaviour, even avoiding reading is a behaviour. A Behavioural Optometrist wants to find out what behaviours are being noticed by teachers or parents that might be indicating that the child is having a vision problem.

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