Vision & Reading

Normally a Combination of Deficits, Rather Than Just One, Is at the Root of a Child's Reading Difficulties

​​​​​​​Often vision vision-related reading deficits are overlooked due to children not complaining about how they see, maybe they've passed a school vision screening which has given them an "OK" on their acuity. Visual acuity is the ability to see objects clearly. It is usually the only skill assessed in a school vision screening. The typical school eye chart is designed to be seen at 20 feet and measures how well or poorly the child sees at that distance. Reading requires the integration of a number of different vision skills: visual acuity, visual fixation, accommodation, binocular fusion, convergence, field of vision and form perception.

Signs Of Vision-Related Reading Problems

  • holds book or paper too close

  • frequent eye rubbing during reading or homework

  • loses place or rereads lines when reading, which often gets worse with time

  • omits or substitutes words

  • uses finger to read

  • homework is slow

  • reading comprehension decreases with time

  • slow reading speed

  • avoids reading

  • tilts or turns head

  • closes or covers one eye

  • squints or blinks during reading

  • red or watery eyes after reading

  • crossed or drifting eye

  • clumsy, poor depth perception

Symptoms Of Vision-Related Reading Problems

headaches, worse later in the day

eyestrain, sore eyes

tired, burning, or itchy eyes during reading

double vision

Treating Vision-Related Reading Problems

An optometrist will examine the above visual skills and determine how well the child is using them. When a vision problem is diagnosed, he or she can prescribe glasses, vision therapy, or both. Vision therapy has proved quite effective in treating reading-related vision problems through individualized programs designed to help a child acquire or sharpen vision skills that are necessary for reading.

Because reading problems usually have multiple causes, treatment must often be multidisciplinary. Educators, psychologists, optometrists, and other professionals must confer and work together to meet each child’s needs. The optometrist’s role is to help the child overcome the vision problems interfering with the ability to read. Once this is accomplished, the child is then more capable of responding to special education efforts aimed at treating the reading problem itself.