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Home ┬╗ Dr. Snider's Blog Posts ┬╗ Spotting Hidden Vision Problems

Spotting Hidden Vision Problems

Do you have a child with an undetected vision problem? Experts estimate that up to 25% of school-age children have vision problems significant enough to interfere with learning. Among children with learning disabilities, that number jumps to 30% to 60%. Yet many of these same children easily pass their annual vision screenings and eye exams.

How is this possible?

Eye exams evaluate the ability to be able to see letters on the 20/20 line of a chart placed 20 feet away. But vision is much more than this one aspect of eyesight.

A child's ability to perform visual tasks such as reading and athletics depends on the ability to synchronize thinking and seeing. If visual skills such as aiming, turning the eyes as a team, following moving objects, focusing, depth perception, and other abilities are inefficient or poorly integrated, the child will be unable to cope with the demands of school and/ or sports.

When a child's attention is divided between trying to make the visual system work and trying to understand the material, one or both tasks suffer. With an inefficient visual system, a child works harder to gain meaning from what he is trying to see or understand.

Vision problems can be divided into three categories:

1. Refractive errors include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

2. Visual processing disorders include poorly developed left/right awareness, faulty visual memory, imperfect visual form perception, inadequate eye/hand coordination, and tunnel vision. Common signs include letter reversals, difficulty learning the alphabet, poor spelling, and sloppy handwriting.

3. Visual efficiency disorders include eye teaming (binocular vision), focusing disorders, and tracking disorders. Common signs include closing or covering one eye, loss of place, headaches, rubbing eyes, poor reading comprehension, and short attention span.

Refractive errors are easily detected during routine eye exams. However, Developmental Optometry is the field of vision care with the expertise to test for both visual processing and visual efficiency disorders.

Since nearly 80% of what a child perceives, comprehends, and remembers depends on the competence of the visual system, an undetected vision problem may have a serious impact on academic or athletic performance.