Vision and Learning
VISION AND LEARNING
Most people think that a child who has passed the annual school vision screening has "good vision" and can see the board and his textbooks clearly.
Unfortunately, this is a serious misconception because the traditional school eye exam doesn't test aspects of vision required for reading. And sadly, the perception that everything's okay can mask significant learning-related vision problems.
Experts estimate that 10% to 15% of school-age children have vision problems significant enough to interfere with academic performance. For children with learning problems, the figures are as high as 30% to 60%. And many of these children have passed the annual school vision screening with flying colors.
The key to understanding the relationship between vision and learning is realizing that vision is more than just being able to see the letters on the 20/20 line of a chart placed 20 feet away. Visual problems can be divided into two broad categories visual efficiency and visual processing.
VISUAL EFFICIENCY PROBLEMS
These kinds of sight problems interfere with a child's ability to clearly and comfortably see and take in information for sustained periods of time. Many of these problems don't surface until the upper elementary grades or junior high, when children are required to cover significantly more reading material.
Visual efficiency problems include problems with focusing, tracking and eye teaming.
VISUAL PROCESSING PROBLEMS
These problems have to do with the child making sense of incoming visual information. They include difficulty with laterality, directionality, visual form perception, visual memory, and visual motor integration.
In contrast to visual efficiency disorders, many of which surface in the middle grades, visual processing problems tend to sabotage learning for children in the early grades even kindergartners. Children with visual processing problems may be difficult to teach because they fail to understand and grasp basic concepts and ideas.
A full evaluation by a professional who has the expertise to test for both visual efficiency and visual processing disorders is the only way to detect some vision problems. When one of these hidden problems does exist, treatment involving eyeglasses, vision therapy, or both can correct it.
Glasses are generally effective for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. They can also correct some types of focusing and eye teaming disorders. In fact, 85% to 90% of people with vision problems are treated with glasses.
However, the other 10% to 15% require vision therapy. This therapeutic approach involves a series of treatments that includes using special instruments and activities under close supervision.
It is important to understand that optometrists don't specifically treat reading or learning problems. But along with extra help or tutoring from parents and teachers, an optometrist can correct the vision problems that may be blocking the possibility of learning.
SPOTTING HIDDEN VISUAL EFFICIENCY PROBLEMS
SPOTTING HIDDEN PROCESSING DISORDERS