The British Association of Behavioural Optometrists is a professional organisation of highly qualified and motivated Optometrists, with a specialist interest in how vision affects human performance.
Our Behavioural Optometrists are fully qualified optometrists (ophthalmic opticians) who have obtained additional post graduate qualifications.
In the UK and Ireland, our organisation trains, accredits, registers and sets professional standards.
At present In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the title Behavioural Optometrist is not a protected or restricted title which means some people claiming to be Behavioural Optometrists may not be qualified. This website lists all currently accredited Behavioural Optometrists in the UK and Ireland.
If you or somebody that you know is experiencing vision difficulties, then you may have developed your own coping mechanisms to help with everyday tasks such as reading and writing. Employing these techniques can cause tiredness, pain and discomfort to the point where you may want to avoid these activities.
In fact, if you have always seen this way, and coped this way you might not have realised that it is unusual or that there are ways to significantly improve things.
Common signs of vision difficulties:
We see patients diagnosed with:
Although Behavioural Optometry will not treat conditions such as dyslexia or ASD, people with these difficulties are significantly more likely to have co-existing deficits with their visual system. These co-occurring visual difficulties can easily be identified by a Behavioural Optometrist who will work with you to improve visual skills and make many conditions more manageable.
In fact, some people have been mis-diagnosed with conditions such as ADHD and dyslexia when they had a difficulty with visual skills.
The starting point for most patients is a Behavioural Optometry Assessment. This usually takes 1-2 hours to complete and will be tailored to the needs of the patient.
You will often be asked to complete a questionnaire prior to your appointment so that the Optometrist has your health history and understands the reason for your visit.
At your assessment as well as having your eyes examined, you will be asked to carry out a number of tasks that involve reading and writing, balance and co-ordination. You will be asked to answer questions verbally by your Optometrist so that they can understand how you see the world around you and interpret it. These tests are to check your:
It is important to note that most of the visual difficulties discovered by the Behavioural Optometrist will not be due to problems with the eye or brain itself, but with the lack of development in the visual skills to perform the task being asked. The good news is that these skills can be quite quickly and easily taught to you.
Of course, if there is evidence of the existence of disease or injury to the eye, appropriate diagnosis and treatment options will be discussed.
Your Behavioural Optometrist will provide initial findings during your visit and in most cases, a detailed written report showing findings and recommendations will be provided soon after your visit.
The Behavioural Optometrist may use one or a combination of the following in a vision care programme.
There may be nothing more that needs to be done at this stage and appropriate advice will be given.
Glasses or contact lenses are provided to help you to see more clearly and/or to reduce the demand on the eyes when reading or to support eyes that tire quickly.
Coloured Overlays and Precision Tinted Lenses
If during your Behavioural Optometry Assessment, a coloured overlay or specific tint is found to be beneficial in speeding up your rate of reading or making the text clearer,
there will be options to consider for treatment. In some cases, a coloured overlay can be tried for a few months to gauge the effectiveness. In other cases, it may be suitable to prescribe glasses with a specific tint. The tint can be made with or without a spectacle prescription.
Vision Training/Vision Therapy (VT)
Vision therapy is a non-surgical programme of activities and exercises aimed to train your brain and eyes to ‘talk’ to each other effectively to develop visual skills that were not present or were poorly developed.
It aims to teach your visual system to correct itself so that you achieve clear and comfortable vision, accurate processing of visual information and improved performance in tasks involving the visual system.
Despite its name, exercises don’t just involve the eyes and can involve, moving, speaking, writing, playing games, balancing, throwing, as well as the use of specialist computer software to improve and retrain the eye-brain connections.
Your programme is individually tailored for you based on the results of your Behavioural Optometry Assessment, therefore a full assessment must have taken place first.
Unfortunately, it is not therefore you will have to pay for an assessment and any subsequent appointments.
Some private health insurances are becoming more familiar with Behavioural Optometry and Vision Therapy and may cover certain aspects.
Our ancestors had hunter’s eyes for survival in the wilderness: their vision was designed for spotting game and enemies at a distance.
It is only in the last 100 years that we have been forced to deal with sustained, near visual tasks, and the resulting stress on the visual system has produced many symptoms and problems.
If you experience headaches, blurred vision, tired, itchy or watery eyes or other vision linked problems, you may already know how uncomfortable sustained visual stress can feel. Your discomfort may be related to the heavy visual load of working at near distances – when reading or using computers.
If you are a student, you may read almost three times the number of textbooks your grandparents did! If you are employed in an office, you probably use your visual system for hours of close work. If you work with computers you may spend much of your day looking at a computer screen. These tasks can all contribute to visual stress.
Even if you have 20/20 eyesight (in the UK referred to as ’6/6′) you may have difficulty working at close tasks. The term 20/20 simply means you see well at distances of 20 feet (6 metres) or more, it does not usually refer to how well you see at 30-50 cms (12-16 inches), the distance at which you do most of your close work.
Vision is much more than simply seeing clearly
It is the entire process whereby an individual understands what he or she sees. Here the word ‘see’ is used in a broad context. Not only is vision the understanding of what is seen, but it is also the ability to direct one’s own actions and motor activities accurately and efficiently with a minimum expenditure of effort and energy.
For example, when driving a car, vision is much more than reading the number plate clearly at the legally required distance. It is the total process whereby the spatial relationships between the cars, lorries and other objects around are taken in and processed by the driver to guide the car properly to its destination without an accident and with minimum stress on the driver. Vision judges the relative speeds of the other cars and alerts the driver to pedestrians, other cars, junctions and other hazards. Vision is what directs the cricket player to swing the bat at just the right moment and at exactly the right point in space to make contact with the ball. Vision is what is used by students to understand what they have read and to write things accurately on the line of a page.
It has been said that the most complex organ in the known universe is the brain and the most complex activity that the brain does is vision. 87% of all learning is done through vision, 6% through hearing and 7% from the rest of the body. Vision is therefore the dominant process in the human species. Fortunately, it is also the most accessible to improvement through the use of Behavioural Vision Care with lenses and vision training.