What is a Developmental Optometrist?

Every comprehensive or yearly eye exam, done by all eye doctors, will check the overall health of the eyes. This includes looking for any eye diseases or abnormalities as well as evaluating the patients’ vision and glasses prescription. If the patient is experiencing blurry vision, they may be nearsighted, farsighted, or have uncorrected astigmatism, which requires glasses or contact lenses to see more clearly.

A developmental optometrist is going to probe deeper into how the eyes function and work together as a team. They will provide further testing and also question the patient’s academic performance, specifically with reading and math. A developmental optometrist is looking to see if there are any possible learning-related vision disorders and make sure the patient has developed all the visual skills needed to adequately perform tasks required in their daily lives, especially at school. They will be evaluating you/your child’s:

  • Binocularity- The ability to aim the eyes together and accurately in order to maintain single and clear vision.
  • Oculomotility- The ability to control and aim the eyes correctly for tracking. A skill required for reading so we don’t lose our place.
  • Accommodation- The ability to change the eye’s focus rapidly and smoothly when looking from distance to near and back again, such as copying notes from the school board.
  • Visual Perception- The ability to understand what you see, these skills include: visual memory, visual discrimination, visual closure, and visual figure-ground.
  • Visual Motor Integration- The ability to have accurate eye-hand coordination.

Developmental optometrists may also be called behavioral or pediatric optometrists, due to their specialized work with children and how vision can affect their behavior at school and home. They typically complete one-year, post-graduate residency, specializing in the areas discussed above. After two-three years of work in the field, they can become a board-certified Fellow of the College of Optometry in Vision Development. Board certified developmental optometrists must pass written and oral testing in order to become a fellow in this organization specializing in vision development and vision therapy.

Approximately one in five children suffer from a learning-related vision disorder. It is very important that if your child is struggling in school, has poor visual attention, or experiences any other symptoms, that they be evaluated by a developmental optometrist.

Is Vision Therapy an option?

Many vision problems do not require surgery for correction. In these situations, vision therapy is typically an option. Vision therapy is a form of physical therapy used on the eyes and brain. It is designed to resolve vision problems that can contribute to learning disabilities. This therapy can also be used as an effective treatment for problems like lazy eye, crossed eyes, or double vision.

What is a Vision Related Learning Problem?

Over 80% of what children learn is processed visually. Children with poor visual skills struggle in school, especially with reading and being able to pay attention. Sometimes these visual-attention issues are misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD. Therefore, treatment only masks the symptoms, rather than cures the cause. These children will sometimes report double or blurry vision, as well as headaches. Children with these poor visual skills usually have difficulties in one or more of the following. Each of which are important pillars of vision needed for school success: eye tracking, eye teaming, and eye focusing.

Can Vision Changes occur from a Concussion, Stroke, or Traumatic Brain Injury?

Did you know that over 80% of your brain is connected to your vision system? When a brain withstands an injury, such as a concussion, stroke, or TBI, it can do major damage to your visual system and cause detrimental changes. Schedule a consultation today to see if that’s why you are having vision changes after your brain injury.

Why was my Child Prescribed Bifocals?

Bifocal glasses use a special lens which corrects vision at two different distances – a prescription on top for far away and a different prescription on the bottom for near. When bifocals are mentioned, most people think of these lenses being used for people over forty who lost their ability to focus up close due to age. However, children can also need this dual prescription for reading glasses.

Many children can benefit from an addition of a bifocal in their glasses prescription. These are children who have developed sufficient control over their focusing systems. Some children lack the ability to sustain sufficient focusing over an extended time period and others can’t make fast focusing shifts from one distance to another (such as copying notes from the board to their desk). There are also some children who have a tendency to over focus, and the additional stress can cause eyestrain and headaches.

The “outdated” flat line bifocals are not the only option for children. Children can also benefit from the round bifocal as well as the “new-age” no line or progressive bifocals.

Can Vision Therapy be done on Adults?

Absolutely! Children are not the only one who can benefit from vision therapy. The same vision conditions that can affect school performance, if not treated properly, can continue into adulthood. Eye teaming, tracking, and focusing disorders are causes for everyday symptoms while at work or trying to complete daily tasks. Common symptoms adults experience are:

  • Eye Strain or fatigue with close work
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty reading for any length of time
  • Errors in paperwork
  • Double vision
  • Inability to sustain desk work for long periods
  • Short attention with near tasks that require working with small detail
  • Problems with nighttime driving
  • Fatigue and frustration

If you have any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation today! As compared to children, adults typically present rapid successful treatment results due to higher levels of motivation.