Research has demonstrated that vision is a contributing factor to an individual’s ability to attend and respond to classroom instruction. A major portion of what we learn is taken in through the visual system.
There are many aspects of vision which might affect an individual’s ability to learn and respond to instruction. It is well known that nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism can all result in blurred vision or eyestrain. However, individuals may also have focusing issues that do not allow them to rapidly change focus from book to blackboard and vice versa. They may also have difficulty using both eyes together. This dysfunction can require excess effort and may interfere with visual information processing. Also, an individual may have difficulty controlling eye movements. This could result in loss of place when reading, frequent guessing of words, the need for the use of a finger to maintain ones place, or more subtle difficulties.
Visual information processing problems may result in children being overwhelmed the day they start school. The academic curriculum is designed on the assumption that children possess certain visual information processing abilities, as well as other skills, at certain chronological ages. In other words, is the child ready for school? The child who has not developed the required level of skills may have difficulty from day one. These difficulties might manifest themselves as problems in reading, writing, mathematics, spelling, thinking, sports, playground activities, and even social relationships children have with their siblings and peers.
Individuals manifesting visual problems associated with learning problems may benefit from the use of lenses and prisms for both the prevention and remediation of these vision problems. Other visual problems might best be remediated by optometric vision therapy. This includes the application of lenses and prisms in conjunction with procedures to provide the individual with strategies, which will aid in the development of adequate visual performance.
There are specific controlled studies in the literature demonstrating the effectiveness of optometric vision therapy for treating problems in the functioning of the visual system. There are also numerous case reports supporting specific diagnoses and treatment plans. Studies have also demonstrated visual deficiencies and visual information processing deficits on older individuals, supporting the fact that children do no simply outgrow these deficits.
Specially trained optometrists can evaluate the development, function, and efficiency of an individual’s vision skills. When properly diagnosed and treated, inefficiencies can be effectively remediated.
Author: Dr. Staci McMullen
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