Vision plays an important role in our ability to learn. Even the most gifted of students can struggle academically if they are unable to see the whiteboard or read close work. As we begin the new school year, we want to remind our patients how important it is, especially for children, to be examined regularly.
Vision and Learning
Eyesight and learning are closely related, and clear vision is important to ensuring your child can get the most out of their education. Though many schools provide vision screenings, these tests typically only test distance vision while a majority of learning is completed within reading distance. Various vision conditions can be missed with vision screenings leading to a child being misdiagnosed with a learning disability or attention problem. One in four children who struggle with reading and learning have an undiagnosed vision condition.
As stated above, a vast majority of 80% of classroom learning is processed visually, so any vision problems can have a significant impact on your child’s education. In fact, over 60% of “problem learners” have an undiagnosed vision condition.
It is important to note that learning-related vision problems are not learning disabilities. Learning disabilities do not often include learning problems that are primarily due to visual, hearing, or motor disabilities. However, a child can have a learning disability, a learning-related vision problem, or both. Any vision problems that have the potential to affect academic performance are considered learning-related vision problems. Common vision conditions that may affect a patient’s ability to learn include refractive errors, eye functions, and visual processing disorders.
Learning-Related Vision Problems
The process of seeing begins with the eyes and ends with the brain. Learning problems related to vision are categorized into three types.
- Refractive Errors – Refractive errors refer to a group of eye conditions that can affect the way light is bent. Common refractive errors include farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism which can affect your child’s visual acuity.
- Eye Functionality Conditions – Eye functionality conditions refer to how well the eyes work together to focus, focus to view objects at a distance, and complete fine movements which can be important to reading.
- Perceptual Vision Dysfunctions – Perceptual vision problems rely on the brain for information as a large part of learning is understanding what is being seen and comparing it to information already stored within the brain. Word recognition and the ability to form mental pictures in relation to words are an example of visual perception.
Pay attention to any clear behavior signs from your child such as an inability to focus during close work, complaining of discomfort, or not being able to focus while reading. Common signs of learning-related vision problems may include:
- Double or blurred vision
- Placing a book or close work up to the face
- Repeating, confusing, or omitting words
- Rubbing the eyes
- Underdeveloped hand-eye coordination
A comprehensive eye exam can help to determine if there are any underlying vision conditions causing confusion and difficulty at school. However, a more extensive exam by an optometrist who specializes in learning-related vision problems may help to determine any perceptual or functionality issues that are affecting your child’s learning.
Learning-related vision problems can be treated through prescription eyewear or vision therapy. Corrective lenses or contacts can be worn at all times or just for certain tasks such as schoolwork or reading. Follow your optometrist’s instructions and be patients as it will take time to adjust to the eyewear. Vision therapy can help with functioning problems and help train the eyes to work together more efficiently. Vision therapy is a specialized service that may not be available at all offices, however, your optometrist will be able to make a referral if necessary.
If you are concerned about you or your child’s performance in school, work, or sports, an eye exam can help determine the underlying cause. For more information on the relationship between vision and learning or to schedule an appointment, please contact St. Lucy’s Vision Center today.