Most Australian states and schools offer free vision screening for children, but these programs only look at focusing, not vision or performance – and yes, there is a big difference.
There are some big benefits when you take your child to an optometrist who is trained and experienced in children’s vision.
What is Vision?
Good vision relies on so much more than just being able to see clearly.
It also requires our brains to receive and interpret the information received via our eyes – and yet as many as one in four children has a vision problem that, without treatment, could negatively affect their schooling.
- If your child struggles with reading – it could be a vision problem.
- If they have messy handwriting – it could be a vision problem.
- If they have trouble hitting or catching a ball – it could be a vision problem.
- If they have a short attention span, and are restless in class – it could be a vision problem.
- If they seem clumsy or trip often – it could be a vision problem.
- If they suffer from headaches or squint a lot – it could be a vision problem.
Why a Behavioural Optometrist?
A Behavioural Optometrist completes a lot of additional training in vision performance and how children’s vision develops. They extend the usual eye examination to look at the complete vision picture. Importantly, they will check eye tracking, how the eyes work together, focusing, visual memory, hand-eye-body coordination, and perception. If your child has a vision problem, a behavioural optometrist is able to prescribe many different options, including training and sometimes glasses, to help your child achieve the best possible vision. Some of the activities for children can actually be fun and could even include computer games!
What is Vision Therapy?
While visual therapy (or vision training) usually consists of exercises designed to improve your child’s vision, sometimes glasses are prescribed. For example, if your child has been diagnosed with amblyopia (a lazy eye), they may be given spectacles which change the way both eyes work, forcing the weaker eye to work harder and then grow stronger.
For many vision problems there is plenty of science that shows how effective it can be.
Preparing your child for school is a very important time. It’s about more than just uniforms and book lists. Give your child every chance for success at school, by booking an appointment with your local behavioural optometrist.
This article was written by Aphrodite Livanes, a Brisbane behavioural optometrist with over 30 years’ experience.
If you think you need to get your child’s eye site tested, please start by using the doctors.com.au search to find a local behavioural optometrist near you. search for a local optometrist and find an optometrist near you – via the doctors.com.au search.