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What does Vision have to do with Learning?

What does Vision have to do with Learning?


What does Vision have to do with Learning?

By: Dr. Amber Teten, Chesapeake Pediatric Eye Doctor

It is almost that time of year again for children; Back-to-School season is upon us here in Chesapeake, VA. As a parent, you want your child to be the most prepared to thrive in school. Dr. Teten, a pediatric eye doctor, knows this parent’s priority well, as she is a mom.

So, you have school supplies, a backpack, clothes, and shoes. Great! You scheduled your child for a pediatrician wellness exam, dental exam, and haircut. Did you think about their eyes? How is your child’s vision? You might respond that your child’s vision is fine because they have no complaints about not being able to see. Or you might respond that you don’t need to wear eyeglasses so they will have the same eyesight as you. Or you might say, my child struggles in reading for other reasons because of a diagnosed learning or reading difficulty that’s not due to their vision.

Did you know that it is estimated that 80% of Learning is visual?

Did you know that 1 in 10 children have a vision problem significantly affecting their Learning?

Many children do not realize they have a vision problem because they do not know exactly what abnormal vision is. These children, therefore, cannot express the differences in their vision. Truly, what they know as normal is what and how they see each day. For example, a child might be experiencing double vision while reading. Yet the child may not think anything of it to mention it to the teacher or parent; to them, it is normal vision.

Vision screenings during wellness pediatrician visits or routine eye exams by a pediatric eye doctor, not skilled in areas of functional vision are not sufficient in detecting problems with binocular vision (both eyes working as a team), eye focusing (accommodation), eye tracking (oculomotor) or ways in which the eyes and brain process images are seen.

The skills mentioned are learned through vision development, just as saying Learning to talk or learning to crawl and walk. A child could have eyesight being 20/20 on the eye chart. However, for unknown reasons, the child may have poor ability to focus clearly on a book, often lose place while reading, poor coordination in sports such as unable to catch or hit a ball, get headaches during schoolwork, avoidance or discouragement when long work at near such as reading or math.

Here are some signs that your child may have a vision problem:

  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Avoiding reading or near work, prefers someone read to them
  • Uses finger to keep place while reading
  • Tilts or turns head when reading
  • Poor coping skills
  • Difficulty catching/throwing a ball
  • Headaches with no explained reason, especially during near work
  • Holding books or computers close to them
  • Frequently loses places or skips words or lines when reading
  • Double vision
  • Reports blurred vision
  • Vision seems to go in and out of focus
  • Eyes fatigue quickly
  • Motion sickness
  • Difficulty with left and right
  • Reverses numbers, letters, or words
  • Difficulty recalling visual information that was presented
  • Meltdowns/frustration with schoolwork, especially at the end of the day
  • Poor handwriting
  • Confuses words with similar beginnings
  • Clumsy falls often
  • Misaligns digits in math

How are these vision problems diagnosed and treated?

First, a comprehensive eye exam by a pediatric eye doctor, like Dr. Teten, is so crucial for school-aged children. After the initial eye exam, the eye doctor may recommend prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses for vision correction. The eye doctor will then prescribe treatments for diagnoses such as myopia (nearsighted), hypermetropia (farsighted), or astigmatism.

For myopia in children, a pediatric eye doctor, like Dr. Teten, will recommend discussing the benefits of myopia control by using contact lenses as treatment. Or perhaps, after the eye exam, the pediatric eye doctor may discuss vision therapy as a treatment to improve your child’s overall visual health.

Vision therapy, like physical therapy for motor development, helps improve vision and visual neural communication skills. What is vision therapy? It is an individualized treatment program with the optometrist, vision therapist, and patient. It uses proven vision procedures to improve the visual skills that are fundamental to see in everyday activities such as school.

These skills include focusing, eye teaming, tracking, awareness in space, and peripheral vision. Also, vision therapy helps strengthen the communication of the vision and brain to process what we see with our eyes. And vision therapy helps achieve a comfortable, clear, effortless, sustainable vision that will help your child thrive in school, sports, and life.

Vision therapy uses many tools and techniques, such as therapeutic lenses in addition to prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, different filters (often red and green), prisms (lenses that move light in a certain direction), balance beams/boards, vision targets such as moving objects or stationary charts with letters. Vision therapy is just like other therapy, where the focus is first to meet your child where they are at in development and skill set at the start. Then throughout the therapy sessions, slowly and strategically increase the demands on the skill set through time of weekly therapy sessions.

Vision therapy is a personal journey for each patient. For example, two children may see double when reading. However, one child keeps blinking or skipping places often to try to read. While the other child experiences great frustration while reading and now avoids it. The treatment path will often not look the same for each patient, even with the same diagnosis.

Vision is fluid and unique skill set for each patient whose performance depends on behavior, personality, experiences, and age. Vision therapy consists of weekly in-office therapy sessions supplemented with at-home activities to reinforce vision skills. Yes, Dr. Teten understands the busy lifestyle of parents and children, so these activities are not like homework. Rather they are engaging activities that strengthen the visual system.

Each student is given guidelines to help perform the activities at home; usually, it is 15 to 20 minutes daily, easily integrated or even broken up timewise to fit into busy schedules. Vision therapy programs are usually 6-12 months, depending on the visual condition. Navigation Eye Care recommends progress evaluations every 10-12 weeks to assess the development of visual skills, keep children motivated in the journey, and examine where we are headed next in the treatment. Our goal at Navigation Eye Care is to help each patient acquire the best, most comfortable, and most efficient vision through vision therapy that will allow them to succeed in school, sports, and beyond.

So, remember, eye care and vision are essential to going Back to School. For your children’s eye care and vision therapy needs, we encourage you to call the Navigation Eye Care team at 757-529-6889 or schedule an appointment. We are equipped and prepared to take care of you and your children. If you are looking for excellent service in a kid-friendly manner, check us out. We highly recommend that you choose Navigation Eye Care when looking for a top pediatric eye doctor in Chesapeake for all the children in your family. We will serve in the Chesapeake area for many years and can’t wait to see you and your family.


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