80% of what a child learns in school is presented visually.
Unfortunately, studies show that only 31% of children ages 6 – 16 have an annual eye examination, and 70% of children under 6 have never had an eye exam.
Parents prepare students with notebooks, papers, and pencils, but without ruling out a learning related vision problem, students may not be fully equipped to learn. As many as 1 out of 4 of all students in K-6 have visual problems that impede learning.
Students often can’t articulate when they have a problem reading the words on the page, or gathering the information to write. Learning becomes a struggle. For these students, what they are seeing is their “normal.” It may take them hours to do twenty minutes of work. As a result, they become frustrated, tired, and they may avoid the work altogether.
These students may be mislabeled as “lazy,” “a slow learner,” or even as having “AD(H)D.” Undetected and untreated vision problems can show some of the same symptoms commonly attributed to AD(H)D.
In fact, 15 out of 18 of the questions asked during ADD screening could also be symptoms of vision problems.
Headaches, especially at/after school
Double vision or words move/overlap on the page
Skipping words, losing place while reading
Difficulty remembering what was read
Persistent reversal of words or letters
Avoidance of reading
Short attention span/difficulty staying on task
Homework takes an unusually long time
Poor eye-hand coordination
Trouble catching a ball
Vision problems are not uncommon, more than 5 million children in the U.S. struggle to learn because of an undiagnosed vision problem. These students may have eye coordination, eye focusing, or tracking disorders.
Vision problems also impact students outside the classroom by affecting sports performance. If a child has problems with eye coordination, or eye teaming, then hitting the baseball or dribbling down the court can be difficult. Hand and body movement, even balance, is challenged when the eyes are not working together in a coordinated way.
Most routine eye exams or vision screenings, only check for 20/20 vision. If a child has 20/20 vision, all it means is that they can see well at a distance of 20 feet. While seeing the blackboard at a distance is a necessary skill, there are 17 additional vision skills that are needed to gather, process, and learn information effectively.
If you or your child’s teacher notice your child struggling to learn, it may be a learning related vision problem. Developmental optometrists, in addition to evaluating eye health, also test all 17 vision skills to ensure students are ready to learn and achieve full academic potential. Vision problems are easily treated by using stress relieving performance glasses, or completing a vision therapy program.
To make sure your child is ready for this school year, call Betsy, our patient care coordinator, at (630) 323-7300 to schedule a functional exam with Dr. Spokas, a developmental optometrist.
Not ready to make an appointment? Please join us for a free, informational workshop with Dr. Spokas on September 12, 2017 at 6:15 here in our office. Call Betsy to RSVP.