Sight is incredibly important for children’s learning, hence if eyes are not working properly then this could seriously impact how information is processed. Behavioural optometry is an extended area of interest which assesses visual motor & visual cognitive skills to link the functioning of the eyes to the brain. This holistic approach assesses how a child processes & interprets visual information and help detect common eye problems that may accompany or contribute to learning difficulties.
Any child would benefit from the Children’s eye test. If there is a concern there is no specific age to get a first eye exam, but as a base line a child would benefit from an eye exam before first day of school. If you notice or if the child complain of seeing difficulties, reading difficulties, skipping words or sentences, intermittent or more permanent squint then they may highly benefit from an eye exam. Some of the other symptoms to look out for are tiredness, sore eyes, itchy eyes, headaches, eyestrain and lack of concentration in children. Once a functional visual impairment has been identified, our optometrists will outline the benefits of prevention, protection and enhancement for child’s visual system.
80% of children’s learning is visual. Therefore it is important the child’s vision is up to task to help them reach their best potential. Assessment of distance vision is how well they see at far. There are many tools at our disposal to assess this function even with the non-verbal. Problems with distance vision can be corrected with spectacle lenses, contact lenses, dream lenses and/or visual therapy. Visual skills assessment is how well child is able to hold and maintain clear, comfortable single vision for a sustained period of time. An example of this is following a line on a page or writing on a board. We find this is a common cause of children’s eye problems.
It is not uncommon to notice an intermittent or permanent turn in a child’s eye. In fact 1 in 30 to 50 preschool kids have a turned lazy eye. Parents should make a note to get a turned eye assessed as soon as it is noticed. Early diagnosis and treatment often gives best visual outcomes for later life. Our optometrists will assess the cause for the turned eye with a battery of specific tests available. Then depending on the cause, the treatment can be initiated. Treatment can vary from constant monitoring, visual therapy, prescription glasses, contact lenses, coloured lenses, prescription drops and in some cases surgery may be required. We will discuss all avenues of treatment in a clear and concise manner.
A behavioural assessment can also be useful in adults who have suffered strokes or brain injuries. Prescription lenses and visual therapy can help recalibrate the brain, to help improve the perception. If you suffer from blur/distorted vision, headaches, double vision, sore eyes, glare sensitivity, vertigo, dizziness, reading difficulties and loss of fields then you may benefit from a speciated optometric assessments from our optometrists.
Specific coloured lenses can be prescribed to people to alleviate symptoms such as photosensitive migraines. Some people notes visual distortions in particular looking at patterns or lines of text. Other symptoms include burring/movement of print, contrast sensitivity, colour illusions, sore eyes and tired eyes. It is important to realize that these symptoms may occur despite normal every day vision.
Visual therapy can involve a range of eye exercises. Once the optometrist identifies the cause then visual therapy may be commenced for the suitable child. Some visual therapy will need to be carried out in practice while some can be done at home. Visual therapy may take 3-6 months to show improvement in children. Children with lazy or turned eyes in some cases will benefit from visual therapy.
It is important to realize children with learning problems may require help from many disciplines. Optometric involvement is only one aspect of the multi-disciplinary approach required to help these children.