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OCULA’s behavioural optometry service benefits Queenstown kids

OCULA’s behavioural optometry service benefits Queenstown kids

March 16, 2017. For immediate release


OCULA Queenstown optometrist Danielle Ross is working with local primary schools to help children overcome learning and behavioural challenges.

As the only registered behavioural optometrist in the lower South Island, Ross is educating teachers on detecting and treating learning and behavioural problems. Comprehensive vision-learning assessments and vision therapy are now available at leading Queenstown optometry practice OCULA – previously, local children had to travel to OCULA’s Wanaka practice for this service.

Ross says 64 per cent of children with learning difficulties have an undiagnosed vision problem, therefore a behavioural optometrist should be the first port of call for parents when struggles are suspected.

“It’s essential to intervene with any vision, lazy eye or learning difficulties as soon as possible,” she says. “Vision is critical to learning; in fact, at 80 per cent, it’s the most dominant system for getting information.

“Vision doesn’t just involve eyesight and seeing clearly, but also how the two eyes work together as a team and how the brain makes sense of what is seen. Most optometrists stop at eyesight, but to truly understand how a child learns, the entire vision system – including the brain – needs to be considered.”

Vision therapy helps re-wire and re-teach visual pathways and visual patterns using a variety of techniques over a 12-16-week course of treatment. In some cases, Ross works in conjunction with speech-language therapists, occupational therapists and educational psychologists for a fully-integrated approach.

The Ministry of Health recommends that all children have an eye examination at least every two years. Ross says parents should select a specialist paediatric optometrist and ensure their child has a thorough examination of at least half an hour in duration, rather than a quick and simple “screening”.

“An eye examination is particularly necessary if there are any concerns about eye health, eyesight or if a child appears to have a lazy or turned eye,” she says. “For learning, if a parent feels that their child is not performing to their own full potential or if a child is struggling with reading, writing, spelling or maths, I would suggest a vision-learning assessment with a behavioural optometrist.”

Ross’ services have already been well received by local primary schools. Arrowtown School Special Education Needs Coordinator Shirley Forrest says having an easily-accessible specialist that teachers can refer parents to is invaluable.

“A number of children who have learning difficulties suffer from visual processing problems. It is wonderful that we now have a behavioural optometrist working in this area who we can refer parents to if we have concerns,” she says. “We are also thrilled that Danielle is providing some professional development for teachers in this area.”

Furthering her already extensive training, Ross will be undertaking a Diploma in SchoolVision Practice in May. She will be one of only five delegates in New Zealand to complete the course, which focuses on the link between vision and learning, difficulties with reading and dyslexia.

“It’s great to be able to share this knowledge with schools, parents and children – seeing the end results and the improvements in leaning and behaviour is incredibly rewarding,” she says.

Ross’ website features helpful information about behavioural vision and vision therapy as well as resources for parents, teachers and other professionals. The website also includes information on Ross’ other areas of expertise – she is a contact lens specialist (orthokeratologist), a qualified paediatric optometrist and an eye disease specialist.


Photo caption:
OCULA behavioural optometrist Danielle Ross at Arrowtown School.
(From left to right) Teacher Nicole Fawcett, pupil Piper McChlery, Danielle Ross, Special Education Needs Coordinator Shirley Forrest and pupil Kobus Delport.

For more information, please contact:
OCULA principal optometrist Danielle Ross
(03) 443 5103

OCULA is a leading optometry practice based in Wanaka and Queenstown. Owned by principal optometrist Danielle Ross, OCULA specialises in leading clinical eyecare and selling unique, high quality, fashion-forward eyewear. OCULA is focused on providing the highest possible standard of care to ensure people’s eyes maintain optimal health, and to identify and treat avoidable blindness. The practice also offers IPL therapy for the treatment of dry eyes and has a state-of-the-art Ocular Coherence Tomography (OCT) machine – enabling patients to receive advanced preventative examinations and allowing the opportunity for specialist outpatient services to be accessed in the resort. OCULA (formerly Eyes on Ardmore) won the Outstanding in Professional Services category at the inaugural Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, in November 2016.

Rebecca Williamson
Written by Rebecca Williamson
An accomplished writer and editor, Rebecca has worked for NZ’s top-selling magazines and publications, and honed her PR communications skills in Melbourne. She brings extensive insider knowledge of NZ and international media, knows how to craft compelling copy, and can get your story or organisation noticed.