What is a Behavioural Optometrist?


This would certainly be one of the most common questions we get asked at Eyes By Design.

Behavioural Optometry is about making sure:

  • that the vision system has the developmental maturity, strength and stamina to meet every demand on it;
  • that the vision system is in harmony with all other body systems; and
  • that the outcome of the vision process satisfies in a comfortable and sustainable way, all of a person’s social and personal needs for intellectual and physical achievement.

A Behavioural Optometrist is a holistic practitioner. They look at how the eyes interact with the rest of the body and vice versa, rather than assessing a client as a ‘pair of eyeballs’.

More often than not an eye check with a general Optometrist involves asking you to read letters on a vision chart to determine your ability to see an object clearly from a certain distance. They will check the health of your eyes to rule out diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma. Often functional visual skills and visual processing skills such as: eye movements, eye teaming, eye focusing, tracking, visual memory, spatial awareness and depth perception may not be considered. This means that problems in these areas are missed in many tests by optometrists.

The Behavioural Optometrist Difference

A Behavioural Optometrist on the other hand, has had all the general training of an Optometrist, and can look after all of the regular eye concerns like corrective spectacles and diagnosis of eye disease. However, they can also test for additional things – the things that many other eye care professionals miss! Behavioural Optometrists know that the way you interpret what you see does not depend solely on how clear your eyesight is!

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If a visual functioning or information processing problem is found then there are more treatment options available at a Behavioural Optometrist than just glasses. At Eyes By Design for example we offer vision training and vision therapy. If the problem is better treated by another practitioner, for example a Speech Therapist or Occupational Therapist, we can provide a referral to who we feel may be able to help.

Most consultations provided by Behavioural Optometrists, including the initial consultation, attract a Medicare rebate. At the time of examination, your Behavioural Optometrist will be able to advise you of any associated fees and charges that will not be covered by Medicare. Learn more about Behavioural Optometry and how we can help

Vision Training and Tutoring

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How do vision training and tutoring complement each other?

Tutoring can be a very effective way of assisting children to progress with their school work. As with anything, extra education, practise and time spent on an activity will usually help the learning process and result in improvement. However, for children who are having problems with their eyes or vision, the progress made with tutoring can be minimal or slower than it needs to be, that is until the vision issues are treated.


Vision Assessment and Diagnosis

At Eyes By Design all children are assessed by Dr Nicholas Altuneg -Behavioural Optometrist. We can diagnose and treat a wider range of conditions than the average optometrist, and have experience working in more complicated children’s cases, such as children who have ADD / ADHD, autism, aspergers, gifted children and more.

At Eyes By Design we often see children who have struggled with school work for quite some time and have had ongoing tutoring, but are still making little progress academically. Sometimes it is found that the child requires glasses and would benefit from vision training. 

What is Vision Training?

Vision training is a program of therapeutic eye exercises and activities that are designed to improve the way the brain, eyes and body work together.  Visual information about the world enters our eyes, and then travels to the brain for processing – this is how we see. When you consider that 80% of the information that we take in about our world is done through our eyes, you can appreciate how important it is that the whole visual system works well, especially for children who are learning and developing.

For some parents having a break from tutoring and committing to a 12 week program of vision training can seem a big step. We understand that ultimately parents want their children to do well at school activities and they may think that tutoring is the logical avenue to take. However, a child will not be able to get the most out of their tutoring until they are using their visual system properly.  Some parents also make the decision to do them simultaneously.

In some cases the eye or vision problems have been the cause of the difficulty at school, and getting an improvement in academic performance will require work with the visual system. If we can treat the vision problem with vision training, you may find that learning problems are minimized significantly because for the first time your child can use their vision to its full potential to take in information.

Do you know a child that could benefit from a vision test, or perhaps a Vision Training program?