Why Visit a Developmental Optometrist?
There are optometrists, and then there are optometrists with special training in a certain area of eye health. Just as in other fields of medicine, there are different levels of care, knowledge, and expertise in the area of optometry. Choosing an eye doctor who has the knowledge and training to treat your specific eye condition can provide optimal results.
Optometrists Vs. Developmental Optometrists
Understanding the difference between an optometrist and a developmental optometrist is critical and can make a big difference in your treatment process and results.
A regular optometrist can diagnose various eye diseases, prescribe medication for treatment, and provide prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Optometrists provide eye exams that evaluate a patient’s overall eye health, visual acuity (20/20, 20/40 etc), and the need for any corrective measures. While these are important aspects of vision, these tests don’t detect other visual disorders which can impact reading and learning. These eye exams cannot detect the majority of vision problems, such as eye teaming (binocular vision), focusing, tracking and visual processing.
A developmental optometrist treats functional vision problems, including difficulties with binocular vision, eye movements and depth perception, as well as visual deficits following brain injuries. They use comprehensive evaluations and tools that test for vision problems that may go undetected using standard vision exams. Developmental optometrists base their work on the principle that vision can be developed and improved, and done so by using prisms, lenses and vision therapy.
Certain Behavioural Optometrists focus on specific areas, such as children’s vision, sports vision, vision problems impacting academic performance, stroke and head injury, and Parkinson’s Disease.
Contact Dr. Colette Whiting and Dr. Sandra Gillis-Kennedy today to assess whether you or your child’s life is being negatively impacted by vision issues.
What are the Goals of Behavioral Optometry?
- To keep vision and eye problems from developing or deteriorating
- To treat vision problems that have already developed
- To ensure that the visual abilities required for academic achievement, in work, in sports and when using computers, are well developed and working optimally
What Can I Expect During a Developmental Optometry Exam?
A developmental optometry evaluation will test for the following:
- Ability for the eyes to focus on an object or image from a distance
- Eye coordination – ensuring eyes work in tandem
- Ability to follow a moving object or text in a book
- Visual perception: checking that the brain properly ‘translates’ what the eyes see
The results will reveal which functions need improvement and will help the developmental optometrist determine which treatment option is best – whether vision therapy, special glasses, and/or medicine.
Great Vision for Successful Development in School and Life
Developmental optometrists work with children and infants to ensure that these young patients develop the visual skills needed for successful development.
Children are particularly vulnerable to injuries that occur in school, during sports, swimming, or other extracurricular activities. Injuries such as concussions, falling down stairs or on the field, can cause vision and eye-hand coordination problems.
Children with learning difficulties can benefit from working with a developmental optometrist. For example, kids who struggle with reading are often assumed to have learning disabilities, when in reality, their learning issues can be attributed to vision problems. Moreover, incorrectly diagnosing a child with a learning disability can have many negative repercussions, on an emotional and social level, that could last for many years, and all the way through adulthood.
Visual tracking is the ability to look at something and follow it as it moves or to track a line, such as when reading. When someone struggles with this movement, it can impact various activities, such as reading, driving, or sports.
Examples of visual tracking problems in children could include:
- Reversing letters: p and q, b and d, etc.
- Using a finger to keep their place in a book
- Skipping words or entire lines
- Replacing words
- Sitting in an odd position; tilting the head or leaning very close to a book or TV
Adults can also experience visual tracking problems, such as:
- Clumsy behavior
- Repeatedly re-reading or losing their place in a book
If left untreated, these symptoms can deteriorate over time. As the child grows and develops, academic studies become more challenging, requiring more focus and concentration. This renders it even more critical to assess and treat any abnormalities or deficiencies as soon as possible.
We Can Help Your Child Have Great Vision
Children who struggle with basic eye functioning can tire easily in class, which can be incorrectly diagnosed as ADHD. They tend to also fall behind in their work and don’t perform to their abilities in reading and writing tasks.
If any of this sounds like your child, contact The Vision Therapy Centre at Shelburne Primary EyeCare and make an appointment with Dr. Colette Whiting and Dr. Sandra Gillis-Kennedy today. The doctor can run tests to identify delays in childhood development that may have been missed by other practitioners.
The Vision Therapy Centre at Shelburne Primary EyeCare helps patients with developmental vision problems and other vision irregularities from Shelburne, Melancthon, Alliston, and Collingwood, in the Dufferin County area enjoy great vision and a higher quality of life.