How Behavioural Optometrists Help Kids with More Than Just Vision
There’s more to vision than just the eyes. A range of skills combines to make sense of what is seen, recall it when needed, and act on it. When there are problems with visual skills, children may exhibit symptoms that are very similar to dyslexia or ADHD as they struggle to keep up with their peers in a world where processing what they see is an uphill battle.
Australian behavioural optometrist and fellow of the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (FIAOMC), Gary Rodney says that he’s had first-hand experience of the different vision therapy can make in children’s lives. “They can seem like completely different individuals. They move from a situation in which they’re behind in their learning, frequently in trouble for making mistakes, and constantly struggling at school to one where they can fulfil their potential. It really is life-changing.”
However, Gary says that one of the biggest problems is a lack of awareness. “Parents and teachers often consider poor eyesight as a possible reason why children struggle at school, but they may not realise that clear eyesight isn’t enough.”
Visual skills range from the ability to “track” lines of text systematically, to depth perception, spotting differences between one thing and another, and remembering what one sees. When they’re lacking, they can be developed, and Gary has witnessed astonishing changes in many of his young patients as a result.
Improved Academic Performance
It’s impossible to do well at school when visual skills aren’t properly developed, but with training, the first improvement that parents and teachers notice is improved academic ability. For the children themselves, the change must be even more rewarding. From facing schooldays packed with impossible challenges and frustrations to dealing comfortably with the tasks that have been set for them, there’s no doubt that acquiring the necessary visual abilities is a big win for them.
Adults will often shrug off a child’s poor coordination as nothing more than clumsiness when it’s really a symptom of his or her need for vision therapy. From the child’s perspective, there’s an embarrassment, failure, and little enjoyment in sports participation. After all, it’s not fun being the kid who always drops the ball or misses an easy goal. With the limiting factor that lay behind poor coordination moved out of the way, it becomes possible to do better at sports and have more fun at play.
Always feeling like they are the ones who are lagging behind their peers can’t be very pleasant for children with visual skills issues. Trying hard and repeatedly failing to do schoolwork correctly, often being in trouble because adults think they’re ‘careless,’ or ‘naughty,’ and possibly having to endure teasing from schoolmates is sure to hurt self-confidence. Needless to say, overcoming their difficulties and discovering that they’re able to hold their own in any setting must certainly be a huge relief for children who have benefited from vision therapy.
Do Better Socially
“One can often see the difference,” says Gary. “Children blossom. At first, they’ll be shy, quiet, even sullen. But as they uncover their potential, they also come out of their shells. It’s as if they’ve entered a better, brighter, happier world. It’s one of the things that makes vision therapy so rewarding for all concerned: the therapist, the parents, and of course, the child.”
There are some inspiring case studies on the Smart Vision Optometry website and those who would like to learn more about how vision therapy benefits children are welcome to view the videos posted there.
For more information on behavioural optometry, or to book an appointment, visit the Smart Vision website: Optometrists Sydney: Optometry Services For Children and Adults | Smart Vision; for specific information about Myopia treatment and prevention visit Myopia Prevention: Solutions, Control And Treatment In Sydney; and for detailed information about Myopia Treatment visit Orthokeratology In Sydney: The Non Surgical Alternative.
To book an appointment for a thorough eye check-up, click here or Call the Bondi clinic on (02) 9365 5047 or the Mosman clinic on (02) 9969 1600.