As the NJ-ASK, GEPA, and HSPA achievement tests draw near, students, parents, and teachers become anxious. Parents of children who are struggling become even more concerned. Parents and educators try to uncover the root of their children's difficulties, but often overlook one important detail - vision.
People often assume that if their child sees the letters on the eye chart when tested by the nurse or at the pediatrician's office, then they have all of the visual skills that are needed for reading and learning. They may not be aware that the standard eye-chart test may not uncover all potential vision problems. In fact having 20/20 eyesight simply means that one can see a certain size letter at a distance of 20 feet. However, measuring visual acuity alone, may not uncover other serious vision problems. Vision is a much more complex process that involves many different visual skills.
Undiagnosed vision problems can make it difficult for a child to make sense out of what they read, and therefore they then do poorly on written tests. This can lead parents and educators to think that the child is just lazy, not trying hard enough, or may have a learning disability, such as ADHD or Dyslexia.
Children assume that everyone sees the same way that they do. They may not even be aware that they have a vision problem, and that their vision problem is making it difficulty for them to learn.
If your child struggles with reading, ask yourself, does your child:
Omit or substitute small words such as: "of" for "for", or "if" for "of"?
Get frustrated trying to read or do homework?
Take much longer doing his/her homework than expected?
Have trouble making out words?
Have difficulty when copying, making lots of errors?
Find it harder to read at the end of the day than in the morning?
Skip words or repeat lines when reading out loud to you?
Reverse letters like b's into d's when reading?
Have a short attention span for schoolwork?
Having just one of these symptoms could be a sign of a possible vision problem.
A regular eye exam typically evaluates only eye health, acuity (how clearly one can see the eye chart) and the need for eyeglasses. Most regular eye exams would, therefore, not uncover whether a child has a vision problem that is interfering with academic performance.
Developmental Optometrists can determine if there is a learning problem that is vision-based, and if a child has all of the necessary skills for school success. A Developmental Vision Evaluation tests eye-movement control, focusing near to far, sustaining clear focus, eye-teaming ability, depth perception, visual motor integration, form perception, visual memory, and visual perceptual skills. In order to make sure that your child has ALL the visual skills that are critical for learning, it is important that you schedule for a Developmental Vision Evaluation.