What does a Behavioral Optometrist do?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 28 December 2018
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A behavioral optometrist is a kind of therapist who helps people deal with eye problems that can't be treated in conventional ways. Sometimes these may be motor issues or problems with the way people look at things. In other cases, they may be related to the way people think visually. Most of the treatments involve training exercises, and it could almost be seen as a form of physical or mental therapy.

When people visit a behavioral optometrist, they will generally be put through a series of examinations to determine what their problem is. The doctors may be worried about things like focusing ability and the way eyes work in concert with each other. For example, some people may not be able to focus on things that are too close or far away, and this may be because of an issue with the way their focusing muscles work. A behavioral optometrist will typically put them through a therapy session in the office and give them further therapy to do at home between visits.


Many of the problems found by a behavioral optometrist may be overlooked in a conventional eye exam. Sometimes people may go to the eye doctor and be able to pass any eye test with flying colors, and this may happen despite issues that make it difficult for the individuals to do their jobs or perform in school. A behavioral optometrist is specifically focused on these kinds of problems, and sometimes he can drastically improve the performance of individuals who've never been able to find any other kind of relief.

In many cases, a behavioral optometrist may be more focused on the way people think than the way they see. There is often a concern that people don't think with enough visual clarity, which could be a handicap in some modern societies. For example, some people may think more in terms of sounds in their heads instead of pictures. This could be OK with certain kinds of thinking, but in other situations, it can be a big disadvantage. An example would be someone who spells words based on the sound rather than remembering an image of the word in his mind.

These problems with visual thinking are thought to be partially responsible for some cases of learning disabilities in school. Behavioral optometrists are sometimes able to help kids overcome issues like this through various exercises and training procedures. Experts claim that this can allow many children to avoid taking certain medications, just as the kind prescribed for attention deficit disorder (ADD).



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