My 5 year old son was having some trouble concentrating in class and it was recommended that we see a behavioural optometrist. A standard optical test showed his eyes were not perfect but within normal range for his age. The optometrist then ran some further tests with some special glasses that showed his brain was struggling to process the visual signal - thus causing tiredness and lack of concentration. To aid this, we got a pair of mild prescription glasses that he now wears in class and when doing his homework.

My feeling is that this has helped. He now reads longer and more accurately at home. However, since then I've come across articles this and I'm wondering if this is just wishful thinking.

Has anyone had any practical experience with behavioural optometry and has it helped in your case? I understand that there is a dearth of peer reviewed scientific research, so I'm happy with personal experience.

Extra information:

I took my other child to a normal optometrist today just for a routine check-up. During the tests, I noticed her running the same tests as the behavioural optometrist; she said she was testing for eye divergence. I then related the story of my son and asked for the validity of the assessment. She said that mild prescription glasses is a valid course of action and would his reduce eye strain since they so not have to work so hard to counter his eye divergence. In the short chat we had she supported behavioural optometry.

1 Answer 1


You said:

A standard optical test showed his eyes were not perfect but within normal range for his age.


special glasses that showed his brain was struggling

While I am most definitely not a doctor, I believe a little logic is apropos in this case.

How can glasses see the brain? See that it is "struggling"? If you peer into the eye, go beyond the back of it, you find a cord that moves on out from there.

Reverse the case and show someone something an average person would be able to interpret and find that they don't interpret it the same without any glasses, and I can see an argument for visual impairment -- it's essentially the definition.

Putting "special glasses" on for the second scenario... how does that help? If I augment or impair your vision, how can I tell anything about your brain?

Now, moving on. My daughter has glasses. I do not. I was quite shocked to learn during her last eye appointment (her first with me as her mother and I are no longer together), that her glasses do not make her see the same as me. Glasses, apparently, do not restore perfect vision.

Now, all that blathering aside, I see really that you have 3 choices:

  1. Whenever I question a doctor's advice, I seek the advice of a different doctor. Two of them say the same, then I assume that even if a third said something different, 2/3 are saying the same thing, lol.

  2. If there is not sufficient research into a new area and you are willing to accept any potential consequences, then go with your educated gut. I'd advise, though, to be willing to change your view at any time and if you have the slightest concern whatsoever, that you seek an evaluation for your child -- I deplore taking risks with my daughter's life as I am sure you do, too, for your child.

  3. If glasses at the level you are providing help and you see no need to pursue additional alternatives, then you can accept that (maybe they do help) and go with what works. Just know that you should still consult with an optometrist regarding this method because wearing glasses you really shouldn't can also damage your eyes.

One final note: No doctor in my opinion will ever be able to replace the same care you have for your child because yours stems from a love which is beyond words. Do what you know and feel is right, knowing you have only one goal in mind: your child's long term success and health.

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