Your child’s vision is essential to his success in school. When his vision suffers, chances are his schoolwork does, too. Vision problems are common among school-age kids. According to the study, one in four school-age children have vision problems that, if left untreated, can affect learning ability, personality and adjustment in school. School-age children also spend a lot of time in recreational activities that require good vision. After-school team sports or playing in the backyard aren’t as fun if you can’t see well. There are various reasons regarding what causes vision problems.
Various Kinds, Various Reasons
- Eye health and refractive problems. These problems can affect the visual acuity in each eye. Refractive errors include nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, but also include more subtle optical errors. Eye health problems can cause low vision— permanently decreased visual acuity that cannot be corrected by conventional eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
- Functional vision problems. Functional vision refers to a variety of specific functions of the eye and the neurological control of these functions, such as eye teaming (binocularity), fine eye movements (important for efficient reading), and accommodation (focusing amplitude, accuracy and flexibility). Deficits of functional visual skills can cause blurred or double vision, eyestrain and headaches that can affect learning. Convergence insufficiency is a specific type of functional vision problem that affects the ability of the two eyes to stay accurately and comfortably aligned during reading.
- Perceptual vision problems. Visual perception includes understanding what you see, identifying it, judging its importance and relating it to previously stored information in the brain. This means, for example, recognizing words that you have seen previously, and using the eyes and brain to form a mental picture of the words you see.
Catch that First Sign
Symptoms of learning-related vision problems include:
- Headaches or eye problems causing strain
- Blurred vision
- Dislike or avoidance of reading and close work
- Short attention span during visual tasks
- Turning or tilting the head to use one eye only, or closing or covering one eye
- Placing the head very close to the book or desk when reading or writing
- Excessive blinking or rubbing the eyes
- Losing place while reading, or using a finger as a guide
- Slow reading speed or poor reading comprehension
- Difficulty remembering what was read
- Omitting or repeating words, or confusing similar words
- Persistent reversal of words or letters (after second grade)
- Difficulty remembering, identifying or reproducing shapes
- Poor eye-hand coordination
- Evidence of development
Treat It Right
If your child is diagnosed with a learning-related vision problem, treatment generally consists of an individualized and doctor-supervised program of vision therapy. Special eyeglasses also may be prescribed for either full-time wear or for specific tasks such as reading. In some cases, vision therapy and remedial learning activities can be combined, and a cooperative effort to address your child’s learning problems may be the best approach. Reassure your child that learning problems and learning-related vision problems say nothing about a person’s intelligence. Many children with learning difficulties have above-average IQs and simply process information differently than their peers.