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What is a behavioral optometrist?

Not all eye doctors are the same. Those that are trained in, and have the most experience with, natural vision improvement are called behavioral optometrists.

What is a behavioral optometrist?

A behavioral optometrist is a doctor who believes that how you see is the result of how you have learned to use your eyes and that visual skills – including how clearly you can see – can be enhanced through exercise, relaxation and training. He/she has received specialized training, can give you a comprehensive examination and can perform all the tests listed below.

Of course, a behavioral optometrist, like a regular optometrist, can prescribe glasses and contacts. But a behavioral optometrist would be more likely to comply with your request for an undercorrected prescription (a weaker pair of glasses or contacts that allows your eyes to benefit from a program of vision improvement).

In addition, a behavioral optometrist can provide a program of training that improves overall visual functioning.

Many behavioral optometrists support the work of the Cambridge Institute for Better Vision.

Why You should See a Behavioral Optometrist

Picture a visit to the optometrist or ophthalmologist and what do you think of? An eye chart on the wall on one side of the examining room and you in a chair on the opposite side trying to read the tiny letters on the bottom line, first with one eye then with the other.

And, if you can read the bottom line, your vision is perfect. If you can’t, you need glasses. Right?

Not necessarily!

Good vision is much more than just 20/20.

Even if you have 20/20 (with or without correction), there could still exist other deficiencies in the visual system that would go undetected during a simple test for visual acuity. And if these deficiencies continue to go unnoticed, they could eventually lead to problems with acuity. So a person could end up needing glasses (or stronger glasses) when the real causes of the problem are going uncorrected.

Problems in these other areas might cause some of the following symptoms: double vision, headaches, tiredness, poor depth perception, difficulty concentrating while reading, eye strain, burning, stinging, dry eyes and more.

Balanced visual functioning requires that the eyes move easily from point to point and work together as a team, that the brain can effectively use peripheral vision and that the brain can easily process visual information.

Using glasses that were prescribed after only a test for distance or near-point acuity could very likely lead to further visual stress. If there are other undetected visual problems that remain unaddressed, this could lead to prescriptions that get stronger and stronger, deteriorating vision and a general feeling of discomfort and fatigue. All of which could set the stage for even more serious eye problems to develop.

That’s why it is so important to get a complete and thorough examination from a doctor who understands the interconnectedness of all aspects of vision.

Here is a list of the vision checks and tests that a behavioral optometrist will most likely perform during the first visit:

    • Measure distance vision with an eye chart.
    • Determine how your eyes function at close range.
    • Measure the teamwork between your eyes and your brain.
    • See how smoothly your eyes move from point to point.
    • See how smoothly and easily your eyes follow a moving target.
    • See how easily each eye can shift focus from near to far.
    • Screen for medical conditions like glaucoma and cataracts.

Finding A Behavioral Optometrist

Search the Cambridge Institute’s Select Referral List to find a behavioral optometrist in your area. These are eye doctors who know about our work and whom we can recommend in confidence.

Name of author

Name: Ruth