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  • Writer's pictureEsna van der Walt

Behavioural optometry: your gateway to better vision

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

Did you know there’s more to vision than just seeing clearly? How you interpret what you see around you depends on your eyesight, but also your visual function, visual motor and visual cognitive skills. This is what behavioural optometry and vision therapy is all about – helping improve all aspects of your vision so you can live your best life.

What is behavioural optometry?

Behavioural optometry goes beyond traditional eye testing and the prescription of glasses and contact lenses. Behavioural optometrists look holistically at the eyes' ability to work together as a team, track or follow a moving object and rapidly change focus from far to near objects. They also test your brain's ability to understand what you're seeing, and your eye-hand-body coordination.

What’s more, they consider your vision relative to your visual demands, which may include learning to read and write in children or reading and working on a computer in adults. Apart from identifying and treating eyesight difficulties, behavioural optometrists help prevent, protect and enhance your entire visual system through:

· Advice to prevent or reduce the possibility of eye problems going forward.

· The prescription of glasses or contact lenses for corrective and or preventative treatment where relevant.

· Vision therapy.

What is vision therapy?

Once a behavioural optometrist identifies specific vision difficulties or deficiencies, they may suggest a vision therapy programme to help train your brain, eyes and body to work together to improve your overall visual function.

Vision therapy is a tailor-made, supervised treatment programme designed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies. Vision therapy sessions include procedures designed to enhance the brain’s ability to control eye alignment, tracking and teaming, the eyes’ focusing abilities, eye movements and visual processing.

A vision therapist develops a programme tailored to your specific needs to help enhance your visual-motor skills and endurance through specialised computer and optical devices, including therapeutic lenses, prisms, and filters. In the final stages of therapy, your newly acquired visual skills are reinforced through repetition and integration with motor and cognitive skills.

A vision therapy programme includes regular sessions at your behavioural optometrist’s practice, with daily home exercises that will help speed up the process. Benefits include better eye control, improved understanding, confidence and performance at school, work or home.

Who can benefit from visual therapy?

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may need to consult a behavioural optometrist:

. General ocular discomfort, covering one eye, holding reading material close to the face, headaches, short attention span, head tilts while reading or concentrating, avoiding reading, rubbing eyes, squinting, blurred or double vision, red and irritated eyes.

. Below than expected academic performance at school compared to learner's intellectual ability, input and effort spent on homework.

. Reading ability and comprehension is below average.

. Eye strain at work or eye fatigue towards the end of the day.

· Learning-related vision problems, including eye movement and focusing skills, convergence insufficiency, eye-hand activity, visual memory skills, etc.

· Poor binocular coordination, or the failure of both eyes to work together as an effective team.

· Convergence insufficiency - a common near vision disorder when you look at things up close.

· Amblyopia (lazy eye), diplopia (double vision) and strabismus (cross-eyed, wandering eye, eye turns, etc.).

· Stress-related visual problems, including blurred vision, visual stress from reading and computer use, eye strain headaches and/or vision-induced stomach-aches or motion sickness.

Contact us:

Tomlinson Optometrists is a family-oriented behavioural optometry practice in Cape Town, that offers visual therapy programmes from the convenience of our own consulting rooms. Contact us on tel 021 797 7291, WhatsApp 066 327 0560 or email

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