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Is your child struggling in school? Is it easy for your child to understand something when you read it aloud, but difficult when he/she has to read it to themselves? They could be suffering from a treatable vision related learning problem.
When parents think about vision, they usually think about children's clearness of sight, or visual acuity in other words, their sharpness of vision as measured by the eye chart. When children have 20/20 vision, it means that they can see small-sized letters at a distance of 20 feet. If your child is near- or farsighted and fails the eye chart test, your doctor will prescribe glasses or contacts to help him/her see clearly.
Clear vision is just one visual skill necessary for academic success. In addition to clear distance vision, children need to be able to use their eyes comfortably up close at the distances required for reading and schoolwork. They need to be able to track a line of print without losing their place, coordinate their eyes well enough to maintain single vision, and sustain clear focus up close so words on the page don’t blur.
Statistically, one out of every five children has a vision problem that interferes with their ability to read and learn. As a result, they often see scrambled, blurred, or double print. Not only does this make reading extremely difficult, but eyestrain also causes these children to fatigue quickly, causing them to be very distractible with short attentions. It is not surprising that children with vision-based learning problems fail to progress well in school.
What is Vision Therapy
Our vision therapy program at Brenart Eye Clinic consists of a series of vision procedures performed one on one by a certified teacher. Our therapy program offers a modern, holistic approach; the activities are aimed at strengthening all aspects of vision such as eye teaming, tracking, anti- suppression, focusing, and visual processing.
Vision therapy can be designed treat a variety of vision problems. Below you will find more information on specific types of problems.
Eye Teaming Problems
Technically referred to as convergence disorders, eye-teaming problems are caused by poor eye coordination that can create double vision, especially when children have to read small print for long periods of time. In order to keep single vision, both eyes must aim at the same place on the page. Children with convergence problems cannot aim their eyes together. As their eyes tire, the “teaming” skill breaks down and the eyes end up aiming at slightly different places. The result is blurred or double print.
Not all children with eye-teaming problems see double. Most stop reading when their eyes become too uncomfortable, before the print actually breaks into two. They take “vision breaks” to avoid close work—daydreaming, talking to their neighbors, sharpening their pencil, getting a drink, etc. Because they are so frequently off task, these children are often suspected of having ADD/ADHD when the real culprit is their vision.
*Click on the link below to learn more about specific eye teaming problems. Link will redirect you to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development website.
- Convergence Insufficiency
- 3D/Stereo Vision
- Double Vision
- Strabismus or Crossed Eyes
When we read our eyes have to follow along the line of print. This visual skill is called tracking. The medical term for tracking problems is oculomotor dysfunction.
Children who struggle with tracking cannot control where they aim their eyes. Instead of moving smoothly across the page, their eyes jump around, going backwards as well as forwards and even jumping to lines above and below. Children with tracking problems lose their place frequently and skip, reverse, or transpose words. Because the text is so scrambled, they often have trouble comprehending what they are reading.
Focusing problems, called accommodative disorders, make it difficult for children to see clearly up close for long periods of time. When reading, words start to become increasingly blurry the longer they read. Print on the page starts to look like this:
Symptoms Associated with Vision-Based Learning Problems
- Difficulty reading
- Loses place or uses a finger to guide eyes
- Omits or miscalls words
- Poor comprehension
- Short attention, high distractibility
- Difficulty remaining on task
- Homework takes too long
- Missing or late assignments
- Appears “lazy” or unmotivated
- Shows symptoms similar to ADD/ADHD
- Tilts head when reading
- Holds book too closely
- Covers an eye to read
- Complains of blurry or double print
- Headaches with reading or homework
- Eye strain or red, watery eyes
- Rubs eyes when reading
- Tires quickly with reading or homework
- Frustration with school
- Low self-esteem
- Poor handwriting
- Letter reversals past the 1st grade
- Difficulty copying from the board
- Performing below potential
- Labeled as dyslexic or learning disabled
The good news is vision-based learning problems can be corrected with vision therapy. Now that the problem has been identified, we can start the process of restoring your child to normal visual function. Our doctors and staff are looking forward to helping your child!
What is the next step?
The next step is to schedule an eye appointment to evaluate your child’s visual needs. Following the exam, our doctors may recommend additional testing to evaluate the visual skills your child needs to read, learn, and remain on task- including oculomotor , visual perception, visual memory, visual motor integration, writing speed and precision, reading fluency, letter reversals, and visual attention. These tests can help us decide the best course of action to correct you child’s vision problem.
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