What is Behavioral Optometry?

Published on
February 15, 2022

Behavioral optometry employs an integrated approach to treatment that views the individual as more than a refractive error, a patient, or visual issue. Extending traditional eyecare beyond 20/20 vision.

What is Behavioral Optometry?

We are more than just our eyes. However, some of us may experience vision based problems. When most people think of eye-related errors they think of issues with acuity. Acuity is our ability to see clearly at near and at distance. For some, this is where their visual journey ends and for others, where it begins. For those with an acuity issue, an eye exam with a refraction and they are on their way to better vision. But what about those who don’t have a problem with acuity, yet they still are unable to see? There happens to be an entirely different side of the same visual coin that people tend to overlook or be wholly unaware of. 

 

The Two Sides of Vision

The visual equation is two fold. First, as we discussed, is our ability to see clearly. Second, and very importantly, is the manner in which our eyes operate together as a team. A deficiency in this area can lead to a myriad of visual, physical, and behavioral problems. Before we dismiss the implications of that last statement let's talk briefly about perception. Let us consider this: about 80-90% of the sensory input that reaches our brain is visual data. With that type of staggering statistic it’s easy to consider this next statement. How we see largely makes up who we are. This isn’t to invalidate other sensory input or pathways but to emphasize how important this one is.

 

The Broader Impact of Binocular Dysfunction

If how we see is who we are then what does that mean for someone deficient in the visual system? The answer brings us full circle to the scope of the first question on Behavioral Optometry. The inability to use our binocular system effectively not only presents as an issue in its own right but will tend to cascade into other areas of our development and our lives. 

The inability to perceive the world as it really is, whether it is through double vision or a lack of depth perception, will affect psychological and behavioral development. If the mind and body cannot course correct in an effective and healthy manner then, as wonderfully evolved as it is, the mind will develop another means in which to address the crisis. This is everything from shutting down the relay of visual information from the eye to the brain to hyperactivity and the inability to stay attentive when attention is required. This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the implications of undiagnosed or unaddressed binocular dysfunction. 

 

Behavioral Optometry

Behavioral Optometry is the field in which the very nature of these issues, from the neurological to the psychological, are addressed. Optometrists who specialize in this field are focused on preventing, diagnosing, and treating these disorders and the compounded issues while improving the overall quality of life for those afflicted. Behavioral Optometrists typically employ an integrated approach to treatment meaning it’s well-rounded with their interdisciplinary point of view. One of the hallmarks of Behavioral Optometry is viewing the individual as more than a refractive error, a patient, or visual issue. The patient is considered, first and foremost, a human being and from that foundational perspective, the effectiveness of treatment has already changed for the better. Along with the humanistic view, the Doctor will also consider biopsychosocial factors when diagnosing and treating patients. Considering all possible causes, affected areas, medical histories, and behavioral adaptations when treating an individual. These traits of Behavioral Optometry are typically what sets it apart from standard practice. 

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  • Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.


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