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What Is Behavioral Optometry?

Behavioral Optometry is a branch of optometry that treats vision problems that effect overall performance and behaviour. As in most other fields of therapeutic medicine, there are a variety of different techniques and philosophies of how to treat the various vision disorders that fall under the scope of behavioral optometry. Some techniques are concerned with ensuring that the eyes function or move the way they should from more of a mechanical or functional approach. Others view vision as an indicator of how well our mind/body system is working, and treat vision from this perspective.


Dr. Getzell has had the good fortune of studying under some of the best doctors throughout the country in the mind/body approach.  As a result, he has a greater understanding working with patients from a motor-based Visual Training approach. He considers the motor (the physical movement of our bodies) system as the foundation for a sound functioning vision system and sees the two as being an integrated process with vision directing movement. A vision problem is not in the eyes, but in the mind/body system, i.e., a vision problem affects how we move and think.

Treating vision problems/dysfunctions with the mind/body approach, Dr. Getzell recognizes that we take a long time to become who we are, and changes to the mind/body system occur gradually over time. In order to change the mind/body system, it is vital that patients work with their entire body. Training in space (as opposed to just working with instruments) allows for quick transfer of the new ways of doing things to everyday activities; i.e., school, home, and work. Therefore, the length of treatment is typically longer than with other more mechanical or functional approaches.

In addition to Visual Training, Dr. Getzell has found that lenses (or "glasses") cannot only help patients to see clearly, but can have other profound impacts. Sometimes simple changes in prescription can create tremendous changes in overall performance. When wearing "therapeutic" lenses patients typically observe a 25-40% improvement in how they think and move.

Behavioral Optometry, Ltd.

Jeffrey Getzell, OD, FCOVD, FCSO

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