Tunnells Behavioural Clinic

The best way to understand how vision is enhanced by Behavioural Optometric is to understand how vision is obtained in the first place.

The majority of babies are born with the ability to develop normal vision with the use of certain reflexes e.g. the pupillary reflex, the startle reflex etc.

The first few years of a child’s life are a key developmental stage for their adult lives. Experiences aid in the learning of vision and the increasing development of mental abilities enables a child to use use the potential of their hardware.

Practise makes perfect – before a child learns to ride a bike they will inevitably fall off. This is not due to their hardware (arms, legs etc.), it is due to their lack of experience. Practise will result in the writing of the appropriate software in the brain to record the experience.

Vision is similarly obtained through experience. The development of a well functioning visual process that is capable of meeting all life’s demands, the individual must have come across many developmental experiences in their early life. For example, elite athletes will most often have exceptional visual abilities in comparison to average athlete. This excellent visual processing derives meaning from the environment rapidly and  efficiently so their performance is increased well beyond the abilities of those around them.

Vision is much more than just eyesight. It is the ability to visualise and understand how to apply the information that comes in through the eye. It is essential to understand the difference between vision and sight when using this guide and checklist.

Sight (Acuity) is all that results from the eyes’ response to light and is measured by the determination of how well we see different sized letters on a chart.

Vision is the result of the person who is actively interpreting and understanding information made available to them through the eye. Children, students and adults with 20/20 eyesight may not have these abilities.

The following is a checklist that can be used for parents and children, adults, teachers and can be brought along to our Behavioural Optometrist with their diagnosis.

  • Blurring of words when reading
  • Working distance close when writing or reading
  • Blinks or rubs eyes a lot
  • Gets rapidly tired at school and often exhausted at end of school
  • Headaches and/or aching eyes
  • Difficulties with copying from the blackboard or book
  • Poor or variable handwriting, often slow
  • Poor coordination or history of co-ordination problems
  • Loss of concentration, poor attention span
  • Reading accuracy and speed below chronological age
  • Loses place or line when reading
  • Misses out words or letters when reading
  • Often has to use finger as a marker to keep place
  • Often has to use finger as a marker to keep place
  • Mixes numbers in Maths
  • Comprehension exercises difficult
  • Reverses letters and numbers
  • Mirror writing
  • Confuses right and left past age 7 (and sometimes up and down.)
  • Makes phonetic spelling errors
  • Poor visual memory
  • Poor at Maths
  • Creative writing difficult
  • Poor posture when working
  • Covers one eye when reading
  • Moves head when reading
  • Homework takes longer than it should
  • Poor at ball skills and team games
  • Does not understand what has been read

There are three alternative treatments to the Behavioural Optometrist and are often combined in a vision care programme.

Compensatory Lenses are available to help the person see more clearly if the patient does not want further care.

Treatment Lenses are prescribed that reduce the stresses of enar-centred tasks e.g. reading or working on video display terminals to reduce the forces which contribute to vision problems. Lens prescription can be modified to guide vision to a stronger mode of operation. Yoked prisms are also used where indicated. Some cases involve prescribing tinted/coloured lenses that are beneficial. Lenses are available as tools to aid human behaviour and allow patients to alter their perception of the world around them and how they function in their environment and to reduce visual stress. Glasses are a useful appliance that is similar to using a decent pen to aid in handwriting. Today’s environment is visually demanding with the use of artificial lighting and such.

With vision training, the optometrist provides a programme for treatment that is to develop those abilities that either had never been present or had been poorly developed in the patient’s profile of visual abilities. This vision training is a step by step series of activities/procedures that patients practise over time to create a more efficient and comprehensive visual process. Training takes 3-12 months with weekly or fortnightly sessions of 40-60 minutes with a vision therapist or optometrist combined with home vision training by the patient.

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