In a clinical study involving 4th and 5th grade students who had eyesight worse than 20/25, more than 60% of those students suffered from reading difficulties.
Reading is the primary route of learning in school, and 80% of what a child learns first filters through the visual system. Screenings at nurses’ and pediatricians’ offices can miss up to 50% of the visual problems that affect reading, writing and learning.
A yearly eye exam is recommended for every child entering school. In children who are struggling with academics, a more in-depth visual skills exam is needed to investigate how the eyes, brain and entire visual system are working. These visual skills – eye coordination, focusing, fine eye movements, etc… – affect academics. Not every eye doctor – optometrist or ophthalmologist – tests and treats visual skills. With school just right around the corner, start with a yearly eye exam, and then if needed, follow-up with a thorough visual skills exam.
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SCREEN TIME and KIDS. Does screen time cause nearsightedness to get worse? Can you tell my son/daughter to stop playing games on his/her phone? Is screen time bad? These, and others like them, are common questions that parents ask us frequently. Follow us as we embark on a mini-series to investigate what’s true and what’s myth based on clinical research and personal experience working with many families and their children. Let others know about this. You, and they, will find it interesting and helpful. Here’s a starter:
The World Health Organization recommends that children between the ages of 5 to 17 years engage in moderate-to-vigorous exercise for one hour per day because of the health benefits to developing children. Interestingly, even this daily exercise does not reverse the negative effect of too much screen time. In a study involving over 1000 U.S. children ages 6 to 15 years of age who exercised at least 1 hour per day, more TV watching was still associated with worse physical strength.
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.
Could your child’s vision be affecting his/her ability to read, write or learn? It’s not just about a child failing. Many bright children perform below their potential because they are being limited by their vision issues. These vision issues could include the need for glasses as well as poorly developed visual skills.
The following survey has been tested nationwide. If your child totals 20 or more points on the survey, then he/she is at a much greater risk for vision affecting academics. Visit the following link to check if your child may be affected by undiscovered vision issues: https://goo.gl/forms/rFnkCBreFBdKNjJy2
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.
If a normally-sighted child has two or more moderate risk factors for nearsightedness, then he/she should be evaluated every six months. If two or more risk factors are high, then active treatment to slow down the progression of myopia is recommended. If a child is already myopic, active treatment is recommended and he/she should be monitored every six months. Increasing nearsightedness not only requires thicker and thicker glasses, but it increases the risks of other eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and retinal holes and tears.
Another risk factor for developing nearsightedness is the amount of time spent doing near vision tasks such as reading, writing, drawing, computer work and handheld games. Depending on the amount of time spent, your child may be subjecting himself to low, moderate or high risk of myopia.
Here’s another risk factor for developing nearsightedness – focusing inaccuracy. If a child displays inadequate focusing levels, then he or she will be either at moderate or high risk for developing, and worsening, myopia.