Roughly 80% of what a child learns in school is visual. When a child has difficulty in school from learning to read to understanding fractions to seeing the blackboard or books on their desks.
The first step is to rule out refractive errors, these are not the only visual disorders that can make learning difficult.
The most common of vision and by extension learning issues can be resolved with eyeglasses for the child. A comprehensive exam can also disclose more serious issues such as:
- Accommodative dysfunction is an eye focusing problem resulting in blurred vision both up close and far away, frequently found in those who have extended near work demands.
- Amblyopia “lazy eye” -The loss or lack of development of clear vision in one or both eyes. Amblyopia is often associated with crossed eyes or is a large difference in the degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness between the two eyes. It usually develops before age 6 and does not affect side vision. If vision is not developed within a critical period. Eyeglasses or contact lenses cannot fully correct vision.
- Convergence insufficiency is a condition in which the eyes are unable to work together when looking at nearby objects. This condition causes one eye to turn outward instead of inward with the other eye creating double or blurred vision. Convergence insufficiency is usually diagnosed in school-aged children but is also seen after a concussion or traumatic brain injury.
- Ocularmotor dysfunction means there is a lack of control in the movement of the eye. There are three types of oculomotor dysfunction:
- The inability of the eyes to track a moving object.
- The inability of the eyes to rapidly move from one object to another.
- The inability to keep the eyes steadily staring at an object without moving away.
Post-concussion vision syndrome many people who have had a concussion suffer from some kind of vision problems. A concussion can cause temporary or long-lasting vision-related symptoms. Some head injuries cause damage to the optic nerve. Sometimes these problems don’t appear immediately after the injury but slowly develop over time. Regions of the brain that were injured may:
- Not be receiving enough blood to supply the oxygen needed to process the information your eyes provide.
- Not send and receive the correct communication signals.
Visual processing disorder refers to a hindered ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes. Difficulties with visual processing affect how visual information is interpreted or processed by the brain versus problems involving sight or sharpness of vision.
If your child is diagnosed with one of these learning-related vision problems, treatment consists of an individual program of vision therapy under the supervision of a doctor. Special eyeglasses may be prescribed for either full-time use or task-specific use. In some cases, vision therapy is combined with remedial learning programs. Keep in mind children in this situation may experience emotional problems as well. Many children with learning difficulties have an above-average IQ but just process information differently. Reassure the child that learning difficulties and vision problems say nothing about their intelligence.