Who are the British Association of Behavioural Optometrists?

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 current BABO accredited Behavioural Optometrists in the UK and Ireland.
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Do I need to see a Behavioural Optometrist?

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:

  • Regular headaches. Particularly just above or around the eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Easily fatigued when reading or writing
  • Tilts or moves head while reading or writing
  • Covers or squeezes/squints one or both eyes when reading or writing
  • Loses place or leaves out words when reading or writing 
  • Complains of tired eyes, watery eyes or rubs their eyes when reading or writing
  • Easily distracted and shows poor concentration due to the effort it takes to maintain visual focus during work
  • Eye strain, including computer eye strain
  • Poor co-ordination and spatial awareness with near activities (but may be good at sports)
  • Light sensitivity
  • Needs to use a finger or marker to keep their place
  • Misses out words or re-reads the same words
  • Has difficulty processing what they are reading and may have to re-read something several times to understand it
  • Complains of words “moving and jumping about”
  • Reads very slowly, with a great deal of effort
  • Poor handwriting that is irregular and/or untidy
  • Has difficulty copying what is on the board down on to paper
  • Extreme lack of orientation

We see patients diagnosed with:

  • Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia or ADHD.
  • Traumatic brain or spine injuries.
  • Eye turns (squints) and lazy eyes (amblyopia).
  • Hypermobility
  • Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, ASD 
  • Developmental delays
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Learning difficulties
  • Stroke

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.
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What does a Behavioural Optometry Assessment involve?

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:

  • Eye health
  • Visual acuity
  • Colour vision
  • Eye movements
  • Focusing skills
  • Eye teaming ability
  • Visual perception
  • Visual integration with movement
  • Perception
  • Left-right awareness and directionality
  • Peripheral awareness
  • Handwriting and pen grip
  • Tracking

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.  
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What treatment might I be offered?

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.

Lens Therapy

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.
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Is Behavioural Optometry available on the NHS?

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.
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 British Association of Behavioural Optometrists

Tel: 07443 569021

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