What is Behavioral Optometry?
A TV Interview of Behavioral Optometrist,
Dr. Juanita Collier

A Behavioral Optometrist (or Development Optometrist) specializes in behavioral optometry which is a specialty in the field of optometry that is concerned with how your eyes and visual system function and is interested in how your behavior affects vision or how your vision influences your behavior.

As a Behavioral Optometrist, Dr. Collier understands that your vision is a result of how you use your eyes and that your visual skills can be enhanced with vision therapy, including exercise and training. She can provide a program of training to improve your overall visual skills.

Of course, Dr. Collier can prescribe corrective lenses, but she will also ask questions about your visual difficulties at work, school and home, and she will explore how vision therapy and/or eye glasses may help improve your comfort and performance, while preventing future vision issues.
Transcript of TV interview on Better Connecticut show on December 10, 2012:

Kara: Welcome Juanita Collier.

You’re giving away those gorgeous sunglasses.

DJC: Yes.

Scot: You’re such a beautiful woman, first of all.

I’m going to come get my eyes checked out by you.

All: (laughs and giggles)

Kara: So, you’re doing something a lot of people aren’t doing which I
find fascinating, especially as a Mom with young kids.

It’s called behavioral optometry. And some of the behavioral issues
they’re having with their kids may be because of their eyes.

Tell me about that.

DJC: Okay. So, behavioral optometry examines what we do with
our vision, not just our 20/20 eyesight, which is what we usually
think about when we think about going to the eye doctor’s office.

So, when you think about reaction time, reading, sustaining
clear vision at reading, taking notes from the board, and catching
balls when you’re playing sports, all of those things are a function
of your visual system which has nothing to do with your 20/20
distance vision.

However, most children aren’t checked for near vision.

Kara: Right. They just do distance when you go to a pediatrician’s office.

DJC: Exactly, and at most optometrists and ophthalmologists offices,
as well.

And at the schools, it’s only required to do distance vision.

Kara: What do you do, instead?

DJC: We do a bunch of near point testing. So, we check to see how
long they can sustain their near vision.

With a lot of children, what you’ll see, is that on the near card,
they can’t see 20/20. They see 20/60. So, when we’re asking
them to read a book, they can’t.

Scot: What is the earliest that you can diagnose a child with a vision problem?

Because I recently did a story about hearing. Before they leave the
hospital the kids get that test. And you can tell because the head
starts moving.

You can’t tell vision with a child for a while – to know if he can see
clearly or not.

DJC: Your first eye exam should be at 6 months.

Scot: 6 months!?

DJC: Yes.

Scot: Okay and what do you do in that..that eye exam? Again, I’m
fascinated by this.

Do you have them…like…they can’t read. So, what is it that they do?

DJC: Well, you can check their acuity, you can check their vision, you
can check what prescription they need, you can check how will they
follow something, if there’s an eye turn, if their eyes are working well
together.

Scot: Even at 6 months.

DJC: Yeah.

Scot: That’s fascinating.

Kara: Yeah, at the pediatrician’s they do these little tests.

This is, also, if you’re noticing you’re kids are goofing off in class.
Maybe, they’re not listening.

It could be you’re saying, part of their behavior problem, may be,
that they can’t read what they’re supposed to read, and they
don’t really know how to verbalize it.

And so it’s something you would discover in the type of
behavioral optometry you do.

DJC: Exactly.

Scot: You know…this is such a stupid question, doctor…but it’s not a
stupid question.

But, there are so many cats and dogs in the world, some of them
have to have bad vision, right?

DJC: (laugh)

Scot: I always think, “Do my cats have good vision or not.”

DJC: Well, dogs can lose their vision to diabetes and cataracts just like
we can. So…

Scot: Is that the weirdest thing ever?! I’m looking at my cat…

Kara: Don’t mind him. They’re his children. He’s just extrapolating.

DJC: (laugh)

Scot: Can we just walk in or do we need to make an appointment at
your place?

DJC: Yeah. You need to make an appointment because the behavioral
optometry exam is a little longer than the other one, because
it’s much more involved.

Scot: And this is..is this a specialty within the education?

DJC: Exactly. It’s a specialty of optometry because most of the research
on functional vision happens at optometric institutions.

Scot: Ok.

DJC: So, every optometrist has been exposed to behavioral optometry,
but not everyone can treat the issues.

Because behavioral optometry takes a lot of continuing education
and a lot of classes that we need to take.

Scot: And you have the most beautiful eyes ever. Do you have perfect
vision?

DJC: I do.

All: (laugh)

Scot: See, the doctor always has perfect vision.

I can’t see you from here. I can see you.

Kara: So, we can find you, if we want to get one of these tests, you can
see Dr. Juanita Collier.

Scot: Who did your nails?

All: (laugh)

Kara: All the things you thought you would be asked when you came
on the show, right?

DJC: I know. (laugh)

Scot: Come back. We’d love to have you.

Please note: In-office therapy under the direction of a behavioral optometrist using prisms, filters and lenses, as used with our patients, is far more effective than home-based therapy.