Good vision is of paramount importance when it comes to success in school. When certain visual skills have not developed, or are poorly developed, learning is difficult and stressful, and children will typically:
- Avoid reading and other near visual work as much as possible.
- Attempt to do the work anyway, but with a lowered level of comprehension or efficiency.
- Experience discomfort, fatigue and a short attention span.
The similarity in symptoms between undetected vision problems and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder sometimes can lead to a misdiagnosis of ADHD. Keep in mind that your child’s developing visual system means that regular eye and vision care is important.
Your child’s vision is more than just being able to see clearly with 20/20 eyesight. Vision also refers to the ability to cognitively understand and respond to what one sees.
Visual perceptual skills that your child needs include:1
The ability to tell the difference between letters like “b” and “d”.
To “picture” in our mind what is happening in a story we are reading.
To be able to remember and recall details of what we read.
Every child needs to have the following vision skills for effective reading and learning:
- Visual Acuity — the ability to see clearly in the distance for viewing the chalkboard, at an intermediatedistance for the computer, and up close for reading a book.1
- Eye Focusing — the ability to quickly and accurately maintain clear vision as the distance from objects change, such as when looking from the chalkboard to a paper on the desk and back. Eye focusing allows the child to easily maintain clear vision over time like when reading a book or writing a report.1
- Eye Tracking — the ability to keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another, moving the eyes along a printed page, or following a moving object like a thrown ball.1
- Eye Teaming — the ability to coordinate and use both eyes together when moving the eyes along a printed page, and to be able to judge distances and see depth for class work and sports.1
- Eye-hand Coordination — the ability to use visual information to monitor and direct the hands when drawing a picture or trying to hit a ball.1
- Visual Perception — the ability to organize images on a printed page into letters, words and ideas and to understand and remember what is read.1
Younger children may lack the ability to articulate if they are struggling with one of these skills. But there are other things that you, as a parent, can look out for as signs that they have and underdeveloped visual skills.
Signs that may indicate a child has vision problem include:
- Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
- Short attention span
- Avoiding reading and other close activities
- Frequent headaches
- Covering one eye
- Tilting the head to one side
- Holding reading materials close to the face
- An eye turning in or out
- Seeing double
- Losing place when reading
- Difficulty remembering what he or she read
1School-aged Vision: 6 to 18 Years of Age from American Optometric Association Accessed July 18th, 2017.