A child’s vision may change frequently during the school year without the student or parent noticing. Vision includes a child’s eyesight, the need for a prescription as well as visual skills such as focusing, eye coordination, fine eye movements and more. Academic success requires many different moving parts, and one of these important but often overlooked aspects is vision.
Take this FBISD school holiday on Friday to have your child’s eyes checked especially if he/she shows some of the following symptoms: avoidance of reading, excessive rubbing or blinking of eyes, short attention span, headaches, loses place often while reading, difficulty remembering what has just been read, holding materials too closely, words seem to move on the page, seeing double, uses finger to maintain place while reading, reads very slowly, skips or omits words when reading, poor reading comprehension, print appears to go in and out of focus, eyes hurt or feel tired after only a few minutes of reading, makes errors while copying, crooked or poorly spaced writing, feels unusually tired after reading, re-reads words or sentences, unusual head posture when reading or doing near-work, eyes become watery or red when reading.
In this research study, students who were ALREADY diagnosed with ADHD were given office-based visual skills therapy. After the therapy, symptoms such as loss of place while reading, needing to re-read, reading slowly, loss of concentration, trouble remembering what was read IMPROVED significantly. In addition, these students’ attention scores IMPROVED after therapy as tested by the Conners 3 ADHD Index. The research team concluded that visual skills problems affect attention and can contribute to behavioral and academic problems.
Does your child have difficulty maintaining his/her attention when asked to do schoolwork? Is your child seemingly bright, but not showing it academically? Visual skills may be playing a role in this. If so, office-based visual skills therapy can help. Schedule a visual skills exam in addition to a yearly eye exam.
Here are the results of a clever study: Students who DID NOT have ADHD or visual skills problems, were temporarily MADE TO HAVE a visual skills problem by the research team. Their sustained attention dropped significantly as tested by the Conners CPT compared to before they were made to have a visual skills problem. The research team concluded that visual skills affect sustained attention and that visual skills problems often compound the symptoms of inattention.
Does your child lose concentration easily when asked to read, write or complete near-work? Visual skills might be playing a role in his/her inattention. Schedule a visual skills exam in addition to a yearly eye exam.
Why is a yearly eye exam as well as a visual skills exam potentially so important for students as they enter a new school year? Over the next couple of weeks we will look at well-designed clinical studies to help us understand the importance of vision, which includes eyesight and visual skills, in learning.
We will start with this recent finding. In a study involving students who werealready diagnosed with a visual skills problem, their top 5 most frequent complaints were:
loss of place while reading
needing to re-read
loss of concentration
trouble remembering what was read.
Does your child exhibit any of those five symptoms? If so, then maybe it’s due to an undiagnosed visual skills problem. A yearly exam is a good place to start, but yearly eye exams do not check for the visual skills problems that can cause those symptoms. Schedule a visual skills exam in addition to the yearly eye exam.
25-30% of children have vision problems that interfere with academics
Students who failed vision screenings scored worse on standardized tests
In a clinical study involving elementary-aged school children published in 2017, those who had failed a vision screening scored significantly worse on standardized tests of reading, grammar and punctuation, spelling and numeracy compared to students who had not failed the vision screening.
In another clinical study, near visual skills, not just visual acuity, explained 40% of the variance in reading accuracy performance and 30% of the variance in reading comprehension amongst elementary school children. Put another way, near visual skills were contributory factors in every 4 out of 10 children who performed worse than the average reading accuracy score. Near visual skills were also contributory factors in every 3 out of 10 children who performed worse than the average reading comprehension score.
Checking for a child’s need for eyeglasses is important. Investigating a child’s near visual skills is equally, if not even more, important if he/she is struggling academically because most of a student’s visual demand is within 16-18 inches. We specialize in vision development and its effect on reading, writing and learning.
1 in 10 children suffer from a vision problem that affects academics. School and pediatrician screenings only check for the ability to see the board clearly. However, 80% of learning occurs through the eyes, and screenings only check one small part of vision. For example, undetected farsightedness, undetected astigmatism, poor eye-focusing skills, inaccurate eye coordination skills and imprecise fine eye movements can all contribute to reading difficulties. If your child is struggling with school, take time out to check her vision. Start first with a yearly eye exam, and then if necessary, schedule a full-fledged visual skills exam that will evaluate the entire visual system and how it may be affecting your child.
Approximately ten million students have vision problems that can affect schooling. Most parents rely on vision screenings with the school nurse or pediatrician to check for vision problems. However, vision screenings only screen for distance eyesight, obvious eye-turns and maybe color vision problems. This misses the majority of vision problems that can affect academics. A child can easily pass a vision screening, but still not control their eyes well enough to accurately read a book fluidly for an extended period of time. Eye coordination problems – which can contribute to slow reading, decreased reading comprehension, inattention when doing homework, fatigue when reading, eye soreness when doing homework and more symptoms – does not show up on vision screenings. Farsightedness, which can make seeing things up close significantly more difficult, is missed more than 60% of the time on screenings. There are multiple vision problems that can be missed on a vision screening that can affect a child’s ability to learn. A yearly eye exam is a must to prepare your child for school success. Just like parents would never send their child to school without the proper school books, parents should make sure that their child is visually ready to succeed. If a child is known to have academic problems already, then a specialized learning-related vision exam should be scheduled in addition to the yearly eye exam.
Children with vision problems that are not correctable with glasses or contacts are two times more likely to have ADHD according to a new study involving more than 75,000 children between the ages of 4 and 17 years old. Estimates indicate that 1 in 10 children are diagnosed with ADHD. There is no known single cause of ADHD, but there are multiple associated factors including a variety of vision problems. If your child suffers from ADHD, schedule a yearly eye exam and a visual skills exam for him. A visual skills exam is different than a yearly eye exam.
Uncorrected farsightedness is linked to poor reading readiness. In a study comparing 4- and 5-year old children with uncorrected farsightedness to children with normal eyesight, the children with uncorrected farsightedness scored significantly worse on tests of preschool literacy – the precursors of learning how to read. This is important because early deficits in literacy is associated with future problems in reading and writing. Farsightedness is difficult to detect. There are often no outward signs. Even pediatricians’ vision screenings miss farsightedness 60% of the time. If your preschool child is struggling to recognize his written alphabet or if your kindergartner is having difficulty learning how to read, please at least have his prescription evaluated. There may be other visual skills that are affecting a child’s learning, but checking for uncorrected farsightedness is a good place to start. Also, all children should have a yearly eye exam before entering school.
Amblyopia causes slower reading speeds. Amblyopia occurs when the eyesight in one eye is reduced because the eye and brain have not developed properly. This condition is the leading cause of one-eyed visual impairment in young and middle-aged adults. If you suspect that your child may have amblyopia, please have him evaluated for it. Amblyopia can be improved. An amblyopia exam is different than a routine yearly eye exam.