We are often asked to explain the difference between Optometry and Behavioural/Developmental Optometry.
Behavioural Optometry is an approach to vision care that aims to maximize visual function in all situations in life. From this, it is not just important that a person sees well, but are able to process what they see in a comfortable and stable manner, which will affect how a person views and responds to the world around them. The goal is to develop and enhance the visual skills needed to achieve more effective visual performance in the classroom, work place, when playing sport and following recreational pursuits.
More than clear vision…
When you look at an object and “see it” you need to understand what the object is, you should know where it is, and you should know how to react to it. To do this you must observe the colour, shape, size and the relation to other objects. This information must then be compared to previous experiences you have had and a decision is then made on what to do. This analysis must be completed accurately and quickly within a fraction of a second.
We use this to help us balance, walk, drive, play sport, talk to people, work and read. Some of these activities like balancing and walking can be done without sight, but the skills develop more slowly and less extensively than when we can efficiently visually understand the world we see. Talking to people does not require the ability to see but the visual aspects of communication like body language make understanding and developing of rapport with people quicker and easier. We also turn our words into images to ‘see’ what they are saying. Vision plays an important part in the development of many human behaviors. Equally, the way that humans develop their sensory motor skills, fine motor skills, eye hand co-ordination and the development of speech and language, affects the development of the visual skills that are used to understand the world around us.