Dr. Sa Kai Bong
B.Optom (Melb), M.Ed. (HK), Ph.D. (Cog. Psy.), PGC. Optom. (NSW), PGC. Child Dev (HK), D.H.Sc. (Optom)
Behavioural Optometrist & Founder, Visionary Eyecare Centre
Place of Birth:
Have you lived overseas? Yes, my family moved to Melbourne, Australia during my early adolescence.
Year of your return to Hong Kong: 2003
What brought you back to Hong Kong?
Compared to Australia, Hong Kong has minimal behavioural optometric vision care. With my avid interest in working with children and families, mainly related to strabismus, amblyopia, and vision-related learning difficulties, I decided to start my clinical work in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, I also started my postgraduate studies in child development, in the context of human and psychological development
How did you get involved with the special needs community?
I trained as a developmental and behavioural optometrist in Australia, providing vision care to the pediatric and special needs populations (i.e. SEN, neurological cases). Behavioural optometry involves more than how well a person can see a distance eye chart but also concerns the efficiency of visual function that enables one to see comfortably and interpret visual information.
It was through my work with occupational therapists, psychologists and teachers that I began to work with the special needs community.
How are you currently involved with the special needs community in Hong Kong?
Currently, I provide assessments to the special needs community and also management of various conditions, including vision therapy to promote visual function.
What age groups do you work with?
I mainly work with children, from preschool children to teenagers.
What are some of the more common issues related to vision that you come across when working with children with special needs?
I often encounter vision-related learning difficulties, strabismus, and amblyopia in my practice and it is common to see other multi-sensory issues also present.
For management, we undergo vision therapy with the aim to enhance visual function and performance, and also work with other professionals, parents, and teachers to empower children.
How is your assessment different from a standard eye test?
In my routine behavioral optometry assessment, the focus is on three main domains:
1) Visual clarity (i.e. how well a person can see);
2) Visual efficiency and function, including visual focus, teaming of the eyes, visual tracking skills (i.e., whether a person can see comfortably and effortlessly); and
3) Visual information processing (i.e., how to interpret and internalise visual information), by utilising different objective and subjective testing methods.
For instance, a child can pass the vision screening test (i.e., able to see the distance chart clearly) but still struggle with reading and learning. This could be associated with a deficiency in visual function, such as difficulty with visual focusing.
Imagine a child seeing the text on a page go blurry transiently or seeing double. It would be challenging to keep their place while reading and could potentially lead to issues with reading comprehension, attention, and motivation to learn.
Therefore, I believe in holistically managing vision to support learning and daily living.
Are there any specific issues that parents can look out for that may otherwise go unnoticed?
Children assume that everyone sees in the same way, so they may not report any unusual symptoms. Parents and teachers should be aware of symptoms of visual dysfunction, including skipping a line/word(s), losing one's place while reading, and closing one eye to see.
Typical complaints from children could include transient blurry vision, double vision or words moving on the page, and experiencing a headache or eye strain while reading.
Common symptoms of visual perceptual disorder include letter reversal (e.g. confusion with b/d, p/q), difficulties in spelling and reading comprehension, or confusion with similar words (e.g. them/then).
Early detection and timely management are essential in supporting each child.
Do you collaborate with any other professionals to address a child's needs more holistically?
Yes, we collaborate closely with other healthcare professionals (including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and speech therapists), and schools (including teachers and psychologists), to provide all-rounded support for each child.
What are some positive outcomes you have seen over the years in the children you have treated?
In most cases, when there is timely treatment, improvement has been noticed in different areas:
1) Clinical assessment. In our progress evaluation, children usually showed improvement in their visual function. Quantitative and qualitative analysis will be done to assess their visual function and visual information processing ability.
2) Overall learning ability. This is usually reported by parents and schools, where children who once struggled with learning and reading become sound and fluent readers. Most importantly, there is increased confidence and enthusiasm to explore on their learning journey.
What have been some of the rewards and challenges of working with children with special needs?
Guiding the development of a child’s vision system, accompanying them on their journey of learning and growth, and bonding with a child and their family have always been pleasurable and rewarding.
Children with special needs may experience multiple developmental challenges at times and it can be distressing to see these children get frustrated and lose their motivation to learn and explore.
During the course of vision therapy, it is rewarding to see progress in a child's visual function and mental well-being as they gain confidence in learning.
Where can parents find more information about your work and how to get in touch with you?
I would be pleased to provide more information on the developmental and behavioural approach to managing vision-related learning problems.
Visionary Eyecare Centre has a website: www.visionary-eyecare.com.hk
and a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/visionaryeyecarecentre
I can be contacted via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org