The role that vision plays in children’s learning.

Nearly 80 % of what a child learns in the classroom derives from information presented visually. Good vision is therefore essential for children to achieve their full academic potential.

Vision problems can affect a child in many ways in the classroom.  For example, their ability to see the blackboard from the back of the classroom or to read a book at their desk.

A complete eye exam is the first step to ensure that vision-wise, your child is ready for school. Myopia, hypermetropia and astigmatism are not the only vision issues that could make learning more difficult. Less obvious visual problems related to how the eyes work and to how the brain processes visual information can also limit your child’s capacity to learn.

Vision-related difficulties affecting academic and reading performance are called
learning-related vision problems.

If your child usually moves their head closer to their book when reading, it could be the sign of a vison problem that could affect their capacity to learn.

Learning issues could lead to a low self-esteem. Consulting with your trusted optometrist should be a first step.

Learning-related vision problems can be grouped into three categories. The first two mainly affect the visual input while the third mostly affects visual processing and integration.

Vision problems:

 

Vision problems such as myopia, hypermetropia and astigmatism can affect visual acuity.

Functional eye problems: 

 

Functional vision refers to a myriad of eye-specific functions and the neurological control of these such as eye association (binocularity) and finely-tuned eye movements (important for effective reading) and focalisation. 

Functional eye problems can cause blurred or double vision, eye fatigue and headaches, all factors which affect learning. Convergence insufficiency is a specific type of functional eye problem that affects the ability of both eyes to remain accurately and comfortably aligned during reading.

Visual and Perceptual Problems:

Visual perception includes understanding what you see.  This means for example, recognizing words you have seen before and using the eyes and brain to form a mental picture of the words you see.

Color blindness, while not generally considered a learning-related eye problem, can cause problems in school for young children if color matching or identifying specific colors is required in classroom activities. For this reason, all children should have an eye exam that includes a test for color blindness before starting school.

Common symptoms of learning-related eye problems include:

- Headaches or eye strain;

- Blurred or double vision;

- Crossed eyes or eyes that seem to move independently of each other (strabismus);

- Dislike or avoidance of reading or work requiring proximity;

- Short attention span during vision-related tasks;

- Turning or tilting the head to use only one eye, or closing or covering one eye;

- Placing the head very close to the book or desk when reading or writing;

- Excessive blinking or rubbing of the eyes;

- Losing their place while reading or using a finger as a guide;

- Slow reading speed or poor reading comprehension;

- Difficulty remembering what was read;

- Persistent reversal of words or letters after second grade;

If your child has one or more of these symptoms and is experiencing learning problems, he or she may have a learning-related eye problem.

To determine if such a problem exists, consult your trusted optometrist.Make an appointment here.