December 8, 2015

Vision and Learning

Vision is our dominant sense and our primary source for gathering information in learning. Therefore, vision problems can have a profound effect on how we learn. Many children who experience academic difficulty may have a visual dysfunction in addition to their primary reading or learning dysfunction.

  • "25% of students in grades K-6 have visual problems that are serious enough to impede learning.” - American Public Health Association
  • "When vision problems go undetected, children almost invariably have trouble reading and doing their schoolwork. They often display fatigue, fidgeting, and frustrations in the classroom—traits that can lead to a misdiagnosis of dyslexia or other learning disabilities.” - American Optometric Association
  • "It is estimated that 80% of children with a learning disability have an undiagnosed vision problem.” - Vision Council of America
  • "A three year study of 540 children found that those children who had visual perceptual and eye movement difficulties did poorly on standardized tests.” - Dr. Lynn Hellerstein, FAAO, FCOVD, Developmental Optometrist and Past President of COVD.

Unfortunately, parents and educators often assume that if a child passes a school vision screening, then there is no vision problem. However, school vision screenings often only test for visual acuity. In reality, the vision skills needed for successful reading and learning are much more complex. A child who can see 20/20 can still have a vision problem.

Vision is a complex process that involves over 20 visual abilities and more than 65% of all the pathways to the brain. One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem which can interfere with learning and lead to academic and/or behavioral problems. However, it is important to know that these children frequently do not report symptoms because they think everyone sees the same way they do.

Often a child with a vision-based learning problem has excellent verbal skills, causing parents and educators to think the child must be lazy, have ADD/ADHD, or is learning disabled. The possible misdiagnosis can be due to similar symptoms, but the causes are not the same. Vision therapy can help teach a child how to control their visual system with more efficiency to become successful in their reading and learning abilities.

Vision and Learning Treatment includes development of the following:

• Visual perceptual skills
• Oculomotor skills for improved quality of eye movements during reading
• Accommodative system for improved "focusing" skills
• Binocular vision skills for improved eye teaming
• Visual imagery for greater reading comprehension and recall