Kids are not mini grownups, and as a behavioural optometrist I am dedicated to not treating them like that!
Kids have their own specialised visual needs and require special tests, not the same tests an adult experiences. When providing an adult with an eye test, we need to analyze eye health, eye pressures and lenses to be prescribed, and if they are over 45 years of age, factor in a reading addition.
But children are totally different, and while we could do some of the same tests as an adult, there are lots of tests which are unique to kids. As a behavioural optometrist who deals with children all day every day, I approach testing the eyes of a youngster in such a way that makes sense, focusing on the following areas …
1. Relating to the child: In my workplace I have charts and tests that are not just interesting and revealing, but are really fun. A children’s optometrist needs to be patient, caring and probably just a little insane, and I fit the bill for all of these (especially the last one!)
2. Examining Eye Teaming and Focus: Testing a child includes a lot more than simply asking them to take a look at a chart 6 metres away. It begins there, however most of tests that I carry out on a kid are at the range that is crucial to them, which is where they read, research, study and use computers and Ipads. A behavioural optometrist has to very carefully examine the ways a child’s focus and eye teaming work together, and how much visual stress they are under.
3. Examining Eye Movements: Reading well requires our eyes to move across the page effectively, and behavioural eye doctors examine this area closely when testing children.
4. Visual Perception: Skills like sequencing, coding, picturing and directional concepts all form part of the way an optometrist needs to test a youngster. These vital skills which play key functions in learning and development are practically never examined by regular optometrists.
So if you are concerned about your child, do not simply wander in to a huge dispensary in a big shopping mall and think you are doing the ideal thing. They might be able to tell you that your youngster has healthy eyes and no huge long or short sightedness, but that’s all!
To obtain a real perspective on how your child is utilizing their eyes at school, when they are studying, doing homework or using their computer, take them to a behavioural optometrist and help them reach their full academic potential.