What is a Developmental Optometrist?

Every comprehensive (yearly) eye exam performed by optometrists will check the overall health of the eyes. This includes looking for any eye diseases or abnormalities as well as evaluating the patient’s vision and glasses prescription.

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 question the patient’s academic and professional performance to see if there are learning-related vision disorders and to make sure the patient has developed all the visual skills needed to adequately perform tasks required in their
daily lives.

They will be evaluating you/your child’s:

  • Binocularity– The ability to aim the eyes together and accurately 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.
  • 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 a 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 to obtain this distinction. 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 visualattention issues are misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD. Therefore, treatment only masks the symptoms, rather than treating 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:

  • Eye Tracking
  • Eye Teaming
  • Eye Focusing

Each of which are important pillars of vision needed for school success.

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

Yes, they can! 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 vision changes.

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

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, some children can also need this dual prescription for reading glasses.

Children can benefit from an addition of a bifocal in their glasses prescription when they lack the ability to sustain sufficient focusing over an extended time period. Others can’t make fast focusing shifts from one distance to another (such as copying notes from the board to their desk). And children who tend to over focus often experience eyestrain and headaches from the additional stress it puts on their visual system.

The “outdated” flat line bifocals are not the only option for children.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

Can Vision Therapy be done on Adults?

Absolutely! The same vision conditions that can affect school performance, if not treated properly, can continue into adulthood. Eye teaming, tracking, and focusing disorders cause everyday symptoms while at work or when 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 see rapid and successful results due to higher levels of motivation.