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New vision skills boost student performance

  • Written by Dr. Mary Baker, Behavior Optometrist at Overlake Family Vision

We all want our kids to succeed in school, but hidden barriers to learning can trip up even the brightest students. Twenty to thirty percent of all school age children have a vision problem that is significant enough to interfere with learning.

Often these problems aren’t detected by school eye exams which typically test only for 20/20 vision at a distance. The typical school vision screening detects only 5 percent of all vision problems and is often done by a parent volunteer. School screenings aren’t equipped to check for important visual skills that are necessary for reading and using the computer. For example, they don’t determine if children can coordinate both eyes as a team, track print across a written page without losing their place, or comfortably adjust focus when looking from near to far away.

Children who are struggling with undetected vision problems often fail to progress well in school.  What are the clues that your child may have a learning-related vision problem? Some of the signs include slow reading, difficulty copying from the chalk board, skipping words or lines, losing their place when reading, and reversing words and letters.

Fortunately there’s something that can be done to correct the vision problems and make learning enjoyable. We recommend having your child’s vision checked by an optometrist who tests for visual function as well as eye health and visual acuity. Look for an optometrist who specializes in vision therapy. This type of therapy has been very successful in improving vision skills with exercises that may use lenses, prisms and filters. The therapy usually involves regularly scheduled office visits and home therapy assignments.

When kids have better vision skills, they are better prepared to learn in school. In our program, when kids achieve better visual skills, grades start to come up, self esteem improves and so do relationships at home and at school. The best thing about vision therapy is that since good vision skills are learned, the results of vision therapy usually last a lifetime. These skills have a significant impact on your child’s success and can even affect whether or not your child goes to college!

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