Do I need a Behavioural Optometrist?

Behavioural Optometrists have an understanding of vision and how to encourage its development. This style of Optometry tends to be more holistic in its approach as it tries to incorporate the physical, neurological and developmental aspects of vision.

Behavioural Optometrists spend years in post-graduate and continuing education to master the complex visual programs that are prescribed to prevent or eliminate visual problems and enhance visual performance.

Not all optometrists practice Behavioural Optometry, which includes neurodevelopmental and functional optometry.

Behavioural Optometrists find that most children with learning-related vision problems have good distance eyesight but have great difficulty maintaining vision up close such as when reading and writing. Most school screenings only test the sharpness of distance eyesight. As a result many vision problems that can impact on learning go undetected.

Parents and teachers who understand and can identify the signs and symptoms can detect learning-related visual problems in a child. Behavioural optometric intervention in the management of children and adults with learning disabilities helps to eliminate any vision problem that may obstruct learning.

Current research indicates that some people with reading difficulties have co-existing visual and language processing deficits. For this reason, a vision examination that assesses those factors influencing learning is vital.

Key points

·        Vision problems can and often do interfere with learning

·        People at risk of learning-related vision problems should be evaluated by an optometrist who provides diagnostic and management services in this area

·        Problems in identifying and treating people with learning-related vision problems arise if the definition of vision is limited to clarity of sight and healthy eyes

·        The goal of optometric intervention is to improve visual function and alleviate associated signs and symptoms

·        Prompt treatment of learning-related vision problems enhances the ability of children and adults to perform to their full potential

·        People with learning problems require help from many disciplines to meet the learning challenges they face. Behavioural Optometric involvement constitutes one aspect of the multi-disciplinary management approach required to prepare the individual for lifelong learning

Is Behavioural Optometry Covered by Health Insurance or the Government Spectacle Subsidy?

Health insurance policies which include Optometry cover, will usually contribute towards consultations and any spectacles required. In the case of the Enable Spectacle subsidy; $281.25 can be claimed annually for consultation and spectacle costs for those who meet the eligibility criteria.

Talk to us today to see if an appointment with Kristine who has a special interest in this area would benefit you or your family.

myopia- what we know.

What is myopia?

Myopia or shortsight, occurs when the eye focuses light too quickly resulting in clear near vision but distance blur. This usually occurs when the eyeball is too long.  At birth the eye tends to beshort, making us longsighted. This gradually reduces as the eyeball grows to normal length. However, for some children, the eyeball continues to grow and myopia develops. This may also occur in teenage years, or the early twenties.

Risk factors of myopia and myopic progression

Age; the younger the onset (under 10 years) the greater risk of progression.

Ethnicity; East Asians have the highest risk of becoming myopic

Genetics; With one myopic parent a child has up to 25% risk of becoming myopic, with 2 myopic parents, risk increases to up to 40% while if neither parent is myopic the risk is < 10%.

Lifestyle and environment; living in the city as opposed to a rural lifestyle along with reduced time spent outdoors combined with high levels of near work increase a child’s risk of myopia

Seasonal variation; there is less myopic progression in summer months

The outlook for myopia

About a 1/3 of the world are myopic with 3 %  having high myopia ( over -5.00D), however it is estimated that by 2050 , more than ½ of the world’s population will be myopic with 10% being highly myopic.  High myopia carries an increased risk of eye disease and therefore blindness.

Myopia control

While there is no cure for myopia, spectacles, contact lenses and refractive surgery can improve vision. However, there is now good robust evidence to show what may help actually reduce onset or at least slow progression of myopia;

10 hours of outdoor activity weekly; reduces risk of becoming myopic and possibly slowing progression.

Atropine therapy;  a low dose 0.01% pharmaceutical can be prescribed for night time use with little or no side effects. Atropine relaxes accommodation (the focusing system of the eye) and appears to be a viable option for slowing progression

Spectacles; Full myopic correction is indicated; in fact under-correction of myopia may actually increase myopic progression. Specialised spectacle lenses which reduce the focusing burden of the eye with prolonged near work can be indicated in some cases; helping to reduce myopic progression. 

Contact lenses; Specialised soft lenses have been shown to reduce progression. Furthermore, overnight wear of rigid lenses which reshape the cornea ( a process known as orthokeratology) may be indicated.

If you have concerns about your myopia or your child’s risk of myopia contact us today to discuss your best options