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Behavioural Optometry

What is Behavioural Optometry?


Behavioural optometry is a field of optometry related to vision and visual processing, as opposed to just eyesight, eye health and how well you can read a letter chart on a wall. 

It is a more holistic approach to optometry or vision examination and considers your visual demands and how well your visual system is able to make sense of the world. There is a difference between “Vision” and “Sight”.  Clear eyesight does not necessarily mean you have good vision. 

Eye Test Glasses

The way you interpret what you see does not only depend on how clear your sight is.

The goal of a behavioural optometrist is to ensure your vision is optimal and your eyes and entire visual system are working efficiently and comfortably, so you can focus on what’s important. Vision is a brain thing not just an eye thing.


It has been documented in many research studies that it is not uncommon for children with learning difficulties to have an undiagnosed vision problem. These children may have good distance eyesight (and therefore may pass most school screening tests) but have problems focusing their eyes on near work, changing focus, or have trouble working their eyes together (‘eye teaming problems’). Vision problems that can impact on learning can go undetected, so a behavioural optometry assessment is an important step when investigating learning difficulties. 

Adults that once had normal vision and visual processing can also experience vision problems which would benefit from a behavioural optometry assessment. Head injury and concussion can cause a multitude of vision problems, and our behavioural optometrists work alongside other health care professionals in managing these patients to get them back on track, so their visual system is once again working comfortably in the background of daily life.  


Here are some symptoms/behaviours that could indicate poor vision:


  • Headaches - particularly with prolonged near work/focusing

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Discomfort or fatigue when trying to focus

  • Frequently skipping words or lines when reading

  • Squinting, closing or covering one eye in order to see better

  • Short attention span or avoidance of near work


At Central Otago Optical we have 3 optometrists who are experienced in the field of Behavioural Optometry and Vision Therapy, and are members of ACBO (Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists).  Taryn Johnn and Katie Hill are based at our Alexandra Branch and Nikki Livingstone is based at our Cromwell Branch.  Katie has returned from maternity leave and is currently available for appointments in Alexandra on Wednesdays.


We are invested in continuing to study further in the field of Behavioural Optometry so that we can provide our patients with the best visual care possible.


A Behavioural Vision Assessment at Central Otago Optical is a comprehensive vision examination including eyesight, eye health and a binocular vision assessment with an emphasis on visual learning.  We ask that you fill in a questionnaire and return it prior to your child’s assessment so that we can tailor the assessment to your child’s visual needs.  If your child has suspected or known learning difficulties and you would like to find out more about Behavioural Optometry and how we can help support your child’s visual learning, or to book a Behavioural Vision Assessment please contact us

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