A developmental optometrist is another name for a behavioural optometrist, which is an optometrist who takes a special interest in the development of the visual system, especially as it applies to learning difficulties and the development of conditions like myopia.
Most developmental optometrists start out as I did, being a regular optometrist but wanting to do more to help the children I was seeing. I recognized that conventional optometry did not detect all the conditions of the eyes, in particular those which relate to children with learning problems.
Many kids with learning difficulties visit an optometrist and are told that they have 20/20 vision, and that they are not long or short sighted. This leaves parents with little alternative except to move on and try tutoring, etc., but if you main symptom is poor concentration when reading and doing close work, there has got to be more to the story!
So How Can a Developmental or Behavioural Optometrist Help?
On the Sunshine Coast there are many optometrists, in all shapes and sizes, some working for big corporations and others, like myself, in smaller, friendlier local practices. Yet there are very few behavioural optometrists, dedicated to testing and treating visual development in children with learning difficulties.
“When you are a Developmental Optometrist your entire philosophy of vision testing changes,” explains Dr Darin Browne, “And rather than simply testing to see if a child is long or short sighted, we look far deeper at the focusing and eye teaming abilities, as well as factors like visual memory for spelling, directionality for letter reversals and other perceptual skills like coding, sequencing and even eye movements.”
The reality is that the developmental optometrist often discover deeper issues that are not even being tested by other more conventional Optometrists. And even more importantly, they have a means of not only testing for conditions, but also treating them successfully.
“Using specialized lenses and prescribing various types of vision therapy we can successfully help the vast majority of children who come to our practice with learning problems,” explains Darin, “and that is what most parents really want to see happen… that their children, who they know are bright, have the chance to reach their full potential.”
So even if your child has seen another Optometrist, why not visit Eye CU and discover how a developmental optometrist could make the difference in your child’s learning difficulties.