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. 
  • Passing a 20/20 eye chart test does not prove there are no visual processing issues. 
  • Games that encourage the development of good vision skills have been replaced by passive visual activities such as watching television, video and computer screens, in the past 30 years.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
  • About 40 percent of Americans are nearsighted, and more than a third of children ages 12-17 are affected.  Many children don’t get the right eye exams.  Children should have eye exams as newborns (by the pediatrician), ages 3-5 (preschool), every 1 or 2 years from K-12, at puberty, and again at college.  (American Academy of Ophthalmology) 

    Lots of children become nearsighted,
    and don’t realize they do not have normal vision.  Poor eyesight prevents children from doing well.  Visual learning is responsible for about 80% of all learning.  Demand for visual abilities increases as children progress in school.  When vision is normal, children will do better in academics, sports, and video games.

    Schools usually do basic eye screening, but 
Dr. Anne Sumers, practicing ophthalmologist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, says it is important to test your kids before they go back to school.  

    In addition, parents may want to have their child seen by an eye professional at any time when they observe the possible vision problems listed below.   (“Why children’s vision issues are often overlooked,” CBS This Morning News, August 25, 2015)
  • Nearly 80% of what a child perceives, comprehends and remembers depends on the efficiency of the visual system.
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
    • Sitting very close to the television or video
    • Avoid reading
    • Headaches, dizziness, or nausea after reading
    • Head tilting, closing or blocking one eye when reading.
    • Failure to make eye contact
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