Vision and Learning
It's that time of the year again. Those yellow school buses are out and the children are back at school. It is estimated that as much as 80% of the learning a child does occurs through his or her eyes. Today's students have many visual tasks they perform such as reading, writing, smart board work and computers. They are constantly using their eyes in the classroom and on the playground.
Good vision doesn't just happen and 20/20 is not enough. There are many skills that should be developing in early childhood which affect how the eyes work together and how the brain interprets what it is actually seen. We refer to this as visual perception and those skills include recognition, comprehension and retention.
Recognition is the ability to identify and differentiate between objects. Comprehension aids us to understand what is read. Retention is the ability to recall what is read or seen. These skills are even more intertwined with other skills such as eye focusing, eye tracking and eye hand coordination.
Vision screenings can detect if a child can see 20/20, but cannot determine if there are any deficits in the visual processing aspect. The most common anomaly detected by screenings is myopia, near-sightedness. Children with significant hyperopia, or far-sightedness, can often be missed and they are most often those affected by visual learning disorders.
The American Public Health Association estimates that approximately 10% of pre-schoolers have eye or vision problems. This number increases as children enter into the higher grade levels where there is more visual demand. Visual defects can affect both school and sport performance.
Therefore, as part of the back-to-school checklist, an annual comprehensive eye exam should be included.
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