School is just around the corner and many families are headed to the store in search of school supplies. But do you know the one “supply” that your child may be missing? An efficient visual system!
Did you know that 85% of everything learned in the classroom comes through visual pathways?
We often rely on the school eye screening or even a doctor’s wellness visit to catch vision issues. However, these very basic exams often consist of nothing more than reading an eye chart with one eye covered, at a distance of 20 feet. This measurement only gives insight into one small part of the visual system. It doesn’t give information about how the eyes are working together or how they are working at closer distances such as when reading or doing desk or computer work. Since much of learning is done 20 inches from our eyes it’s important to make sure that all the visual pieces are in place.
There are many visual skills that your child will need for reading, writing and learning. Good eye teaming, the ability to smoothly track the eyes across the printed page, and the ability to change focus quickly name just a few.
How will poor visual skills affect my child in school?
Deficits in the ability to team, track and focus can result in symptoms such as:
- Difficulty reading – skipping words or lines, substituting words
- Low reading comprehension
- Poorly spaced or messy handwriting
- Poor concentration and attention
- Letter and number reversals
More severe symptoms may include:
- Double vision
- Anxiety or angry outbursts or feelings of low self-esteem
Without the basic visual tools, a student may struggle academically. Homework is often a battle that takes all night leaving both child and parents exhausted.
Check it off the list!
In order to assess whether poor visual skills are at the root of the learning problem, a thorough eye health exam, performed by a developmental optometrist, should be added to the back to school list! This exam goes beyond “20/20” – all components of the visual system are looked at including teaming, tracking, focusing and visual information processing, or how the brain and eyes work together.
Often children are labeled because the symptoms associated with poor visual skills overlap with symptoms of attention deficit problems (lack of attention, poor concentration, problems learning to read) and other learning disabilities. These children are smart, but poor visual skills are holding them back from reaching their full potential.
If your child is has been struggling with school and is not reaching their true potential, vision therapy may be the answer. To find a developmental optometrist in your area, go to www.covd.org to schedule an exam. Or take the Symptom Checklist here to see if your child has a functional vision problem.