What is Behavioural Optometry?

What is Behavioural Optometry?

But vision doesn’t “just happen”. Children’s brains learn how to use eyes to see, just like it learns how to use legs to walk or a mouth to talk. The longer a vision problem goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more a child’s brain learns to tolerate the vision problem. So it goes to show that a child who is unable to see words on a page in a book or clearly see the blackboard in the classroom can become frustrated and discouraged in school. This unsurprisingly leads to poor performance with their schoolwork.  Early detection and treatment provide the very best opportunity to correct vision problems, so your child can learn to see clearly. This is where Behavioural Optometry comes in.

Behavioural Optometry is a practice where optometrists treat vision concerns as well as looking at reasons why a child may have attention or co-ordination problems, spelling and learning difficulties or show poor performances during visual tasks. This unique approach to understanding the role of the eyes in thinking and learning involves understanding how eyes work and move together, how they process and store information, and what they actually do with that information. Basically, it’s getting the eyes and brain to work together better.   Remember, there is more to good vision than just being able to read the bottom line on the vision chart.

As a parent, we assume our children can see perfectly. However, hidden vision problems can be quite common in children and a missed eye or vision problem can lead to reduced performance at school and persist later in life. But if detected early, it is usually possible to treat them effectively and quickly.


✓ 1 in 5 children have a vision problem which can impact on schoolroom learning


✓ 4 out of 5 children with reading problems also have a vision issue


✓ some vision problems don’t appear until after a child is 7 years old when they have begun to read

It is important to note that symptoms of visual dysfunction are not necessarily isolated to eye pain or blurry vision. For example, focussing problems can lead to avoidance of near-sight tasks. This is a good example of a change in a “person’s behaviour” to cope with a vision problem.

Symptoms to be aware of in children:

  • Holding reading material closer than normal
  • Tilting head to one side
  • Rubbing eyes
  • Headaches
  • Avoiding close work
  • Losing place while reading
  • Excessive blinking
  • Moving head excessively while reading

We can all benefit greatly from a behavioural approach to vision care. Sight problems can easily be detected and treated with glasses, contact lenses or vision therapy, and how we visually process our world through eye movement, shifting focuses, maintaining eye alignment and controlling attention are a big focus of the eye care philosophy at Outlook Eye Centre.