The fields of occupational therapy and optometry have professionals that are looking at function when they serve clients. The professionals are both experts in every way but believe in sharing the ultimate goal of enhanced occupational performance free of symptoms. Professionals in either category need each other’s expertise for achieving their goals. However, the beneficiary, in the end, is the client who has every reason to believe that professionals from both fields should be best friends.
Occupational therapists have a concern that people cannot function because of the symptoms they encounter or perform their occupational roles such as driver, student, athlete, child, worker, or mother. This concern of occupational therapists leads them to believe that the people who got steered in the wrong direction needed courses specializing in vision remediation. It was this concern that led them to believe:
Occupational therapists are experts in activity and occupational performance.
Optometrists specialize in vision.
A collaborative effort by both ensures the winner is always the patient.
Occupational Therapy sets itself apart from other fields by analyzing occupations and activities. Professionals working in this field look at individuals, their occupation, the environment, and their performance to ensure that clients are independent. When children are unable to play they assess the reasons and also address it. When adults cannot work they again indulge in similar activity. They consider the skills needed for that particular task and compensate for, adapt, or restore the missing piece. This is their occupation and they are good at it.
Many times the skill in the performance that is lacking or impaired is related to vision. A problem with vision among adults would cause them to report they feel pressure in their temples when they try to read or think too hard. Occupational therapists understand some people or children may not be able to verbalize a headache but they may bring the object near them or push it away farther or perhaps even ignore the object altogether. Occupational therapists understand this could be indicating a vision problem without really having the power to conduct eye exams on the subjects.
An ophthalmologist is a qualified professional from the medical fraternity socializing in eye care including diagnosis, management, and surgery of ocular conditions and disorders. They largely emphasize on surgery and prescribe medications for eye disease. Contacting an optometrist for myopia control would be better than talking to an occupational therapist who has no experience in distinguishing these problems. However, ophthalmologists spend little time during their education in the areas of visual efficiency and visual information processing focusing instead on a component model of vision that is only related to the category of problems with visual integrity.
Optometrists have a better understanding of the use of lenses, prisms and vision rehabilitation to remediate ocular function to improve visual and occupational performance. It must be noted that while all optometrists are trained in this category just a small percentage practice in this way.
The performance of these two professions can be equated as being similar despite appearing different but working for the benefit of the patient. An ophthalmologist is only considering the vision of the individual while the occupational therapist would consider how the individual is using his or her eyes is using visual integrity, visual efficiency and visual perceptual deficits that have the capability of impacting occupational performance.
COVD is a global philanthropic membership association of eye care specialists which includes optometrists, vision therapists, and optometry students. The COVD after being established in 1971 is providing board certification for optometrists and vision therapists that are prepared to offer state-of-the-art services in behavioral and developmental vision care. The specialized vision care services can develop and enhance visual abilities to rectify vision problems in infants, children, and adults. COVD believes in the principle that vision can be developed and changed leading to the question about why Occupational Therapy and optometry should consider being best friends.
It can be observed that the two occupations are interconnected and constantly working for benefiting their clients. Their professions despite being different are working towards achieving the same goal. Under the circumstances, would it be wrong to suggest that optometrists and occupational therapists should be the best friends in their respective professions?