Children need many abilities to succeed in their education. Among them, vision is crucial.
All parents want to see their children progress in school and life in general, providing them all the best opportunities they can. Oftentimes vision is an important learning tool that may be overlooked.
Kids between 6 and 18 years see how their visual abilities are progressively more required. The print in schoolbooks becomes smaller and the classwork and homework more and more demanding. At the same time, children’s vision may change frequently during the school years.
According to the American Optometric Association, these are the vision skills needed to learn and read effectively:
- Visual acuity: the ability to see clearly at a determined distance.
- Eye focusing: the ability to maintain clear vision as distance changes.
- Eye tracking: the ability to keep the eyes on target.
- Eye teaming: the ability to coordinate both eyes while moving them or judging depth.
- Eye-hand coordination: the ability to use visual information to control the hands.
- Visual perception: the ability to organize and remember the perceived information.
As you might already guess, these skills are not only related to “seeing properly” as we frequently say. The ability to see clearly is only a part of it, but also the ability to process and respond to this information is important for the academic success.
When a child’s visual skills have not been properly developed, learning becomes stressful and difficult. This can cause demotivation for learning, a shorter attention span, and a lowered level of comprehension or efficiency, and in the worse cases, dropout of school and no social integration
The risk of being misdiagnosed
Many times, these children can be labelled as having “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD), as vision problems and ADHD can have similar signs and symptoms. The way to cope with them is on the contrary, way different. Vision problems may be corrected with lenses as well as through a program of vision training, which may also be needed to help develop or enhance vision skills for visual functions
Therefore, regular eye examinations are so important during school years. These screenings should not only include visual acuity tests. A child with a perfect ability to see can still have a functional vision problem.
When deficiencies in one of the skills listed above are detected, children should receive a comprehensive optometric examination. Also when they are not achieving up to their potential or spend a lot of time and effort achieving it.