Learning-related vision problems and treatments

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Vision and learning can not be separated. Most information children get in school is always presented visually. Good vision is very important for children to perform well at school. When your child has a difficulty in learning or seeing the blackboard, vision problems may be the underlying cause. In this case, you should arrange an eye exam for your child so as to make sure whether he or she needs Rx eyeglasses or contact lenses.

The definition of learning disabilities

Learning-related vision problems are not the same with learning disabilities. Vision problems that have the potential to affect reading performance are considered learn-related vision problems. The U.S Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines learning disabilities as: “… a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language”.

Learning-related vision problems differ from learning disabilities

Learning problems that are primarily due to visual, motor or hearing disabilities should not be classified into learning disabilities. Similarly, mental retardation and emotional disturbances do not belong to learning disabilities. As discussed above, learning disabilities differ from learn-related vision problems. But in fact, both of these two types can affect children’s performance in school. The following part of this article focuses the second factor. There are mainly three types of learning-related vision problems.

Eye health and refractive problems

The first type is eye health and refractive problems that can affect the visual acuity in each eye. Eye health problems can lead to low vision and permanently decreased visual acuity. The most commonly known category is three refractive errors, namely nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. In particular, myopia is the leading cause among school students in damaging normal clear eyesight. What’s more, visual acuity can also be offset by certain higher-order aberrations.

Functional vision problems

The second type is functional vision problems which involve a variety of specific functions of the eye and the neurological control of these functions. Dysfunctional vision may cause blurred vision, eye strain and headaches. As a specific type of functional vision problem, convergence insufficiency affects reading abilities.

Perceptual vision problems

The third type is perceptual vision problems. Visual perception means you can recognize words and analyze what you have seen when you are reading. From another perspective, children bothered by visual perception disorders have difficulty in reading, writing and remembering visual images. This kind of visual problems is closely linked with their visual memory. Victims of these problems lack this ability.

The importance of thorough eye exams

Learning problems can lead to depression and low self-esteem. Today, you can get some eye exams to evaluate functional vision problems and perceptual vision problems from some optometrists, though most routine eye exams may evaluate only eye health and refractive errors. In addition, color blindness which is not considered a learning-related vision problem can also affect children’s learning. So that an eye exam that includes a color blind test is necessary.

What are signifying learning-related vision problems in children?

Symptoms of learning-related vision problems include headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, crossed eyes, turning or tilting the head to use one eye only, closing or covering one eye, placing the head very close to the book or desk when reading or writing, short attention span during visual tasks, excessive blinking or rubbing the eyes, losing place while reading, slow reading speed, difficulty remembering what was read, omitting or repeating words, or confusing similar words persistent reversal of words or letters etc.

Arrange an eye exam for kids with related symptoms

If your kid has any symptom of learning-related vision problems described above, you’d better schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor. Generally, treatments include individualized and doctor-supervised programs of vision therapy. Some special eyeglasses can be prescribed to help children perform better in school. Children with learning difficulties may also have emotional problems, such as anxiety.