We all think that 20/20 vision is the gold standard or “perfect vision”. We are not always made aware of all the aspects of vision that go along with clarity of sight. We tend to neglect the importance teaming, tracking, focusing and visual processing have on our vision.
Why do we have vision? This is often a question that goes unanswered. It has been said that the primary purpose of vision is the direction of action. In the classroom a child must first move their eyes to an object of regard (tracking). They then must make sure both eyes are working together to have a single image (teaming) and then must ensure that what they are looking at is clear (focusing) all to look at the word cat. The child then must determine if they are seeing “cat” or “cut” (discrimination/closure) then decipher what a cat is. The child brings any and all knowledge about this word to the table. In their mind’s eye they may picture a black cat, a calico cat, the cat in the hat etc. This is all visual processing. The child then writes the letters c-a-t on their paper. Their vision was used to direct an action!
As we can see there is much more that goes into vision than what is found reading an eye chart and making it clear with lenses. When a child has a breakdown in one or more of the areas listed above, frustration often ensues. We hear the child say “I can’t” or “my head hurts.” Parents complain that reading and homework are a struggle. The complaint may also be that the child is taking 2 hours to complete an assignment that was intended to take 20 minutes. Below is a list of symptoms associated with visual learning problems:
- Headaches or eye strain
- Blurred vision or double vision
- Crossed eyes or eyes that appear to move independently of each other (Read more about strabismus.)
- Dislike or avoidance of reading and close work
- Short attention span during visual tasks
- Turning or tilting the head to use one eye only, or closing or covering one eye
- Placing the head very close to the book or desk when reading or writing
- Excessive blinking or rubbing the eyes
- Losing place while reading, or using a finger as a guide
- Slow reading speed or poor reading comprehension
- Difficulty remembering what was read
- Omitting or repeating words, or confusing similar words
- Persistent reversal of words or letters (after second grade)
- Difficulty remembering, identifying or reproducing shapes
- Poor eye-hand coordination
- Evidence of developmental immaturity
Sometimes these cases require we use therapeutic lenses that go beyond ordinary glasses and contact lenses. This includes such therapies as color filters, prism glasses or multi-focus glasses to help relieve visual strain. There are many cases where active vision therapy is needed and this may be used in conjunction with therapeutic lenses for best results.
Issues in tracking, teaming, focusing and visual perception can make school extremely difficult. In of honor vision and learning month we recommend getting a comprehensive eye exam to make sure your child is visually ready for school.