Seeing and Learning
Good vision is critical to success and achievement in classrooms. A large percentage of schoolwork must be seen to be learned. Reading, writing, copying, working at a computer…these are a just few examples of the fundamental visual tasks performed by students every day in school. All too often, a child’s inability to progress in school is assumed to be the result of a learning disability or an attention deficit disorder, when the problem might be caused — at least in part — by a vision problem. Parents and teachers need to be aware that an undetected vision problem can prevent a child from achieving at grade level or at the full level of abilities.
Ready for School? 20/20 is Not All That is Needed!
Having 20/20 eyesight doesn’t mean that a child has all the visual abilities needed for learning. Other visual skills play a critical role, such as the ability to easily focus or point the eyes or coordinate eye movements. Children with vision problems might —
- Have difficulty following a line of print in a book or on a computer screen.
- Have difficulty reading or doing homework for any length of time.
- Constantly look up and away from books or the computer.
- Frequently loses their place when reading.
- Have to reread materials in order to understand what they have read.
- Get headaches and pain in their eyes after reading for a short time.
- Get fidgety when doing close work.
- Close or rub one eye when reading.
A comprehensive vision evaluation can help to uncover any visual problems that might interfere with the ability to learn,, and provide needed treatment. When vision problems are diagnosed and treated, children are often better able to respond educationally.
Learning to Read or Reading to learn?
Every child should have a vision examination before beginning school, and periodically thereafter, to check for possible vision problems that can interfere with school performance.
Every one of us has to see or visualize what is meant by the words we read and write. Sometimes, people with learning-related vision problems can see the words, but they can’t see what they mean. If you had that problem, would you find reading and writing easy?
Reading and writing are the two most common tasks people will perform in school or at a desk job. Every time we read from a book, a sheet of paper, or a computer monitor, we are performing a visual task.
How We Read
While we read, we need to
- Aim two eyes at the same point simultaneously and accurately AND
- Focus both eyes to make the reading material clear AND
- Continue or sustain clear focus AND
- Move two eyes continually (as a coordinated team) across the line of print.
- When we move our eyes to the next line of print, we continue with the entire procedure.
In order to gain comprehension throughout the reading process, we are constantly taking in the visual information and decoding it from the written word into a mental image. Memory and visualization are also used to constantly relate the information to what is already known. and to help make sense of what is being read.
How We Write
Writing is similar, but almost works in the reverse order to reading. We start with an image in our mind and code it into words. At the same time, we control the movement of the pencil while continually working to keep the written material making sense. Throughout all this, we focus our eyes and move them together just as in the reading process.
It’s fair to say that complicated visual procedures are involved in both reading and writing! A problem with any or all of the visual parts of the processes described above, will present difficulties in some way with reading and/or writing. Sometimes a visual difficulty that affects reading and writing is easy to recognize, and other times it can be quite subtle to detect.