An estimated 1.25 million children in North America are affected by some form of visual problem that affects studying, reading, and daily living. These include: nearsightedness, farsightedness, lazy eye, or crossed-eye.
Please consider visiting our website to learn the difference between these two. We have explained that in words and with videos.
These visual problems usually have a huge impact on school performance and can cause a child to lag behind their peers.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to help your child succeed. First, let's explain the link between vision and learning.
Why are Visual Skills Necessary For Learning?
Most of what we learn is through our visual system. Up to 80% of classroom learning is vision-based. Is it any wonder then, that children who have problems with certain visual skills lag behind their peers academically?
This goes way beyond the ability to see letters on the eye chart at the pediatrition's office or the school nurse. It goes way beyond the pediatric eye surgeon's test for eye health. What we are dealing with is how the 2 eyes function together as a team.
The Acuity chart tells us how we see at distance, such as looking at the blackboard, but more of learning, and reading, is NOT done at distance; it is done at near, such as reading a book or working on a computer.
The visual skills needed for school success go far beyond just visual acuity, such as myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). The visual skills needed rely on brain-eye communication. These types of visual skills problems can only be detected with a doctor who is looking for these types of problems. These vision skills include eye teaming, tracking, accommodation, and focusing, all of which are critical for proficient reading, writing, and reading comprehension.
How Educators Can Help Students With Vision-Related Learning Challenges
Firstly, teachers are experts in teaching, but may not be experts in identifying what is holding a child back from being able to learn effectively.
1. Consider Where Your Students Should Be Seated
It is a good idea to have children seated facing the whiteboard rather than having to look over their shoulder or turn around to see what the teacher is writing on the board. Some classrooms have students seated at round tables, which puts some children into the position of having to turn around to see the front of the classroom. There are some positive reasons for this type of seating arrangement, but it makes it difficult to quickly shift gaze from distance to near in order to copy from the board.
2. Pay Attention to a Child's Visual Needs
If eyeglasses were prescribed, it is important to know how and when they should be used. Sometimes children are bullied and that is why they don't wear the eyeglasses that were prescribed.
3. Classroom Lighting
It is important that a child's seat is not in direct sunlight or under a shadow. Natural lighting is preferred, but when that isn’t possible, tungsten light bulbs are generally favored by the eye over fluorescent lighting. Flickering light bulb should be changed without delay.
4. Choose a Teaching Method That Promotes good Vision and Sight
- Use black or dark-colored markers on the whiteboard.
- Avoid bright colored markers like orange, red, and yellow.
- When writing on the board, say the words/numbers aloud to assist those who may have difficulty reading or seeing the text.
- Avoid using language that relies heavily on vision, such as “like this one” or “over there.”
- Be patient when a student stares off into space or daydreams. This is often a symptom of visual dysfunction, rather than a lack of attention.
How We Can Help
At Family Eye Care, our goal is to help each child reach their full potential by strengthening any visual skill deficiencies.
We treat children who have visual problems that affect learning. Most often, a child is not awaare that they have a problem and assuemthat everyone sees the same way that they do. Vision Therapy may be indicated to help the child to be able to use the two eyes together as a team, and to physically focus so the child can then mentally focus. Vision Therapy enables the individual to build a strong eye-brain connection.
To learn more or to ask any questions, contact Family Eye Care today.
Family Eye Care serves patients from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Woodbridge, Edison, and throughout New Jersey.