Visual Impairment

  • Undiagnosed vision problems are a hidden disability.  It causes children and adults to suffer needless frustration and failure.
  • There is a crucial relationship between vision and achievement—for both children and adults.
  • Many parents, educators, and medical professionals are unaware of the critical link between vision and efficient learning. 
  • Vision problems can cause a bright child to do poorly in reading, writing, spelling or math.  An uunderdeveloped visual system can be the root cause of  many learning difficulties.
  • Passing a 20/20 eye chart test does not prove there are no visual processing issues.  Their vision could be holding them back because there is much more to vision than 20/20 eyesight. 
  • Games that encourage the development of good vision skills have been replaced by passive visual activities such as watching television, video and computer screens, in the past 30 years.  The average child watches 6,240 hours of television before entering first grade.

Statistics
  • Approximately 1 out of 4 children and 7 out of 10 juvenile delinquents have vision problems which interfere with their ability to achieve, according to current research.
  • Nearly 80% of what a child perceives, comprehends and remembers depends on the efficiency of the visual system.  Academic work requires extremely fine, accurate eye movements; and yet,
What You Can Do
  • Encourage individuals with failing eyesight to seek help. 
  • Take advantage of screening programs for children ages 3 to 6 to identify critical vision problems early and before they start school. 
  • Observe your child.
Watch for the behavioral symptoms -  which indicate a possible vision problem: 
    • Physical Clues
    • Red, sore, or itching eyes
    • Jerky eye movements, one eye turning in or out
    • Squinting, eye rubbing, or excessive blinking
    • Blurred or double vision
    • Headaches, dizziness, or nausea after reading
    • Head tilting, closing or blocking one eye when reading.
Performance Clues
  • Avoidance of near work
  • Frequent loss of place
  • Omits, inserts, or rereads letters/words
  • Confuses similar looking words
  • Failure to recognize the same word in the next sentence
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Letter or word reversals after first grade
  • Difficulty copying form the chalkboard
  • Poor handwriting, misaligns numbers
  • Book held too close to the eyes
  • Inconsistent or poor sports performance

Secondary Symptoms
  • Smart in everything but school
  • Low self-esteem, poor self image
  • Temper flare-ups, aggressiveness
  • Frequent crying
  • Short attention span
  • Fatigue, frustration, stress
  • Irritability
  • Day dreaming
Labeled
  • Lazy
  • Dyslexic
  • Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Slow learner
  • Behavioral problem
  • Juvenile delinquent
  • Working below potential 
  • If you suspect a vision problem, see an eye care specialist who specializes in vision as it relates to learning.   Ask if he tests for
    • Eye movement control
    • Focusing near to far
    • Sustaining clear focus
    • Eye teaming ability
    • Depth perception
    • Visual motor integration
    • Form perception
    • Visual memory
“The Hidden Disability,” Parents Active for Vision Education, 1994 P.A.V.E.

  • Common Visual Deficiencies
Eye Movement Problems  (Oculomotor Dysfunction)
Very fine, accurate eye movements are required for reading; and if your child’s eyes are not capable of these extremely controlled movements, they will struggle to hold their place while reading. This is the child who is a very choppy reader, who frequently skips words and lines, or must use a finger to keep their place. The clinical diagnosis is Oculomotor Dysfunction.

What to look for:

  • Choppy, slow reader
  • Must use a finger to keep place while reading
  • Poor comprehension (exception if test is auditory)
  • Skips words and lines
  • Slow with copy work
Eye Focusing Problems
(Accomodative Dysfunction)
A child whose focusing system cannot handle jumps from near to distant objects, or cannot appropriately relax the visual system to “clear” images at varying distances, may complain of frequent headaches and blurriness during the school day. Imagine looking down from the whiteboard to your textbook while the teacher is reading a paragraph, and you can’t seem to “clear” the page and see the words. Many children have a focusing system that they have little control over.  This can be a serious inhibitor and often is the root cause of many attention issues in the classroom as well as poor academic performance. This clinical diagnosis is called Accomodative Dysfunction.

What to look for:
  • Complains of blurred vision
  • Severe headaches, especially on school days
  • Says eyes are "tired"
  • Short attention span, easily distracted
  • Difficulty copying paragraphs or sentences

Eye Teaming Problems
(Convergence Insufficiency or Excess/Binocular Dysfunction/Suppression)
When a child’s eyes do not coordinate well, they may have frequent headaches, fatigue, and poor academic and athletic performance. When the visual system is functioning optimally, each eye takes in a slightly different image and then the brain combines the images.  If the eyes are not properly aligned and coordinated, your child may see double, which is extremely disruptive. In order to combat double vision the brain may begin to suppress images from one of the eyes, which means it will rely primarily on only one eye for visual information. A child who must rely on only one eye for all their visual information will have a system that tires quickly, as well as lacks dimensional and spacial awareness.
What to look for:
  • Covering of an eye while reading (often with the palm of their hand)
  • Tilting, cocking, or turning of head while reading or working
  • Frequent headaches, especially in near range work
  • Lacks awareness of space (may be clumsy, frequently running into things)
  • Difficulty with sports (especially with moving balls)

Symptoms to look for

  • Choppy, slow reader
  • Must use finger to keep place while reading
  • Poor comprehension (exception if test is auditory)
  • Skips words and lines
  • Slow with copy work
  • Complains of blurred vision
  • Severe headaches, especially on school days
  • Says eyes are "tired"
  • Short attention span, easily distracted
  • Difficulty copying paragraphs or sentences
  • Covering of an eye while reading (often with the palm of their hand)
  • Tilting, cocking, or turning of head while reading or working
  • Frequent headaches, especially in near range work
  • Lacks awareness of space (may be clumsy, frequently running into things)
  • Difficulty with sports (especially with moving balls)

What is Vision Therapy?

Vision Therapy is a treatment program
that usually lasts 3 to 8 months and usually consists of one weekly in-office appointment, where one of our vision therapist specialists works one-on-one with your child. During the office visit, the vision therapist introduces activities that will then be worked on throughout the week at home.  Each activity is specifically tailored to your child’s needs and is designed to retrain the brain and visual system to work together more efficiently. Vision Therapy is to the eyes and brain, what physical therapy is to the body.
Who is Vision Therapy for?  Children who struggle academically, because of their underdeveloped visual system, can make huge academic and personal gains through Vision Therapy; because if a child’s visual system is lagging, many other areas will be affected.  A child with visual dysfunctions may struggle with reading, athletics, confidence, or have severe headaches.
Dr. Todd Wylie
Advanced Eyecare and Optical
104 S. Freya, Ste #220
White Flag Building
Spokane, WA 99202
(509) 535-5855
http://www.drwylievt.com