Vision & Learning

Vision & Learning

Vision and Learning Are Intertwined. Experts Say That Roughly 80% of What a Child Learns in School is Information That is Presented Visually.

Vision is a complex process that involves not only the eyes but the brain as well. Specific learning-related vision problems can be classified as one of three types. The first two types primarily affect visual input. The third primarily affects visual processing and integration. Most routine eye exams evaluate only the first of these categories of vision problems — those related to eye health and refractive errors. However, many optometrists who specialize in children’s vision problems and vision therapy offer exams to evaluate functional vision problems and perceptual vision problems that may affect learning.

Eye Health and Refractive Problems

These problems can affect the visual acuity in each eye as measured by an eye chart. Refractive errors include nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, but also include more subtle optical errors called higher-order aberrations. Eye health problems can also cause low vision or permanently decreased visual acuity that cannot be corrected by conventional eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.

Functional Vision Problems

Functional vision refers to a variety of specific functions of the eye and the neurological control of these functions, such as eye teaming (binocularity), fine eye movements (important for efficient reading), and accommodation (focusing amplitude, accuracy, and flexibility). Deficits of functional visual skills can cause blurred or double vision, eye strain, and headaches that can affect learning. Convergence excess and insufficiency are two specific types of functional vision problems that affect the ability of the two eyes to stay accurately and comfortably aligned during reading.

Perceptual Vision Problems

Visual perception includes understanding what you see, identifying it, judging its importance and relating it to previously stored information in the brain. This means, for example, recognizing words that you have seen previously, and using the eyes and brain to form a mental picture of the words you see.

Symptoms of Learning-Related Vision Problems Include:

  • Headaches or eye strain

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Crossed eyes or eyes that appear to move independently of each other (strabismus)

  • Dislike or avoidance of reading and close work

  • Short attention span during visual tasks

  • Turning or tilting of head to use one eye only, or closing/covering one eye

  • Placing the head very close to the book or desk when reading or writing

  • Excessive blinking or rubbing of eyes

  • Losing place while reading, or using finger as a guide

  • Slow reading speed or poor reading comprehension

  • Difficulty remembering what was read

  • Omitting or repeating words, or confusing similar words

  • Persistent reversal of words or letters (after second grade)

  • Difficulty remembering, identifying or reproducing shapes

  • Poor eye-hand coordination

  • Evidence of developmental immaturity

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