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RANZCO condemns behavioural optometry media coverage

15/08/2017By Matthew Woodley
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RANZCO has condemned a Channel 7 news report on the benefits of behavioural optometry, and accused the broadcaster of failing to acknowledge the lack of research and evidence on the controversial practice.

The report focused on how behavioural optometry has the potential to assist some children with learning difficulties and recommended viewers whose children were experiencing these symptoms to contact a behavioural optometrist “as soon as possible”.



It is irresponsible to promote behavioural optometry to treat these conditions without letting people know that it is an unproven practice.
Mark Daniell

However, RANZCO president Associate Professor Mark Daniell said such advice was irresponsible and had no grounding in fact.

“Primary dyslexia and learning disabilities are complex neurocognitive conditions and are not caused by vision problems. There is no evidence to suggest that eye exercises, behavioural vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses improve the long-term educational performance of people affected by dyslexia or other learning disabilities,” Daniell said.

“It is irresponsible to promote behavioural optometry to treat these conditions without letting people know that it is an unproven practice. Parents of children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities want to do what’s best for their children and it is unfair to give them false hope in expensive treatments and aids for which there is no evidence.”


Watch 7 News report here: Eye tests diagnosing behavioural and learning problems in children

 

However, the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists (ACBO) hit back at the criticism in a wide-ranging statement released in the aftermath of RANZCO’s public rebuke.



It is completely unjustified to suggest that the 400 behavioural optometrists in Australia… are all totally misguided and ignorant.
Steve Leslie

The peak body for behavioural optometry in Australia said there were numerous inaccuracies in RANZCO’s response to the story, including the assertion that behavioural optometrists claimed to diagnose and treat learning disabilities.

The statement also aimed to discredit several studies cited by RANZCO in its condemnation of the Channel 7 story and suggested there was “clear scientific evidence that vision problems are present in children with learning issues such as dyslexia, at a significantly higher incidence that in the unaffected population.”

ACBO president Mr Steve Leslie also disputed the assertion that behavioural optometrists employ coloured tints to treat learning difficulties, instead suggesting they are used for patients with signs of pattern glare and photosensitivity.

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“One of the symptoms of pattern glare can be words moving or swirling when reading, as lines of print of a certain size act like stripes to which people with pattern glare are sensitive. It is accepted that only a proportion of people with learning disabilities also have pattern glare, and no-one should prescribe tinted lenses for a child without pattern glare symptoms,” he said.

“It is completely unjustified to suggest that the 400 behavioural optometrists in Australia, and the thousands of behavioural optometrists all over the world, and the tens of thousands of children and parents who consult them each year, and the teachers who experience the benefits of optometric care for their students, are all totally misguided and ignorant.”

The RANZCO statement concluded by saying that the College supports and concurs with the joint statement on learning disabilities, dyslexia, and vision by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) which reads:

“It is important that any therapy for learning disabilities be scientifically established to be valid before it can be recommended for treatment.” and goes on to say that “…the evidence does not support the concept that vision therapy or tinted lenses or filters are effective, directly or indirectly, in the treatment of learning disabilities.”


Watch 7 News report here: Eye tests diagnosing behavioural and learning problems in children

More reading:
• RANZCO media release
• ACBO response

 

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