Learning-Related Vision Problems affect the way a child’s eyes work with each other and the brain to collect and interpret visual information. They can be as simple as an inability to see close-up (eye focusing problem) or as complex as a cognitive inability to “visualize” or interpret what their eyes are seeing. In many cases, a child’s visual abilities aren’t sufficiently developed for him/her to be able to read – or learn to read – effectively. Unfortunately, children with learning-related problems usually don’t tell a parent or teacher they have a problem. They don’t realize they are supposed to see letters, numbers, objects – the world – in a different way.
Research indicates the problem can be due to a difficulty in either acquiring or processing the information we receive through our eyes. The visual skills needed to see effectively may be lacking or the brain may not be sufficiently trained to interpret what the eyes see. Without these abilities, the child or adult spends so much energy just “looking at” and “decoding” the written word, there is little mental energy left to comprehend and remember the word’s meaning.
Inadequately developed or ineffective visual abilities in the following areas can lead to Learning-Related Vision Disorders:
eye tracking skills (eyes staying on target)
eye teaming skills (eyes working in synchronized fashion)
binocular vision (blending images from both eyes together
at the same time)
accommodation (eye focusing)
visual-motor integration (eye-hand coordination)
visual perception (visual memory, visual form perception,
Many children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder
(and labeled as candidates for drug treatment) have not been properly evaluated for visual problems. What may be thought to be a lack of interest in reading and schoolwork by these children may actually be an inability to keep their eyes properly focused on their books or other desk work. These children become easily distracted and may appear to be hyperactive.
Vision therapy has been successfully used in the treatment of vision problems for more 70 years. The College of Optometrists in Vision Development maintains an archive
of published research articles and clinical studies on the effectiveness of vision therapy. In addition, thousands
of patients each year who experience the benefits of vision therapy can attest to its positive impact on their lives.
Traditionally, optometrists have concentrated upon the functional and mental processes involved in good vision
(eye tracking, eye teaming, binocular vision, visual-motor integration, visual perception), while ophthalmologists have concentrated on the physical nature of the eye (eye disease and surgical treatment). Although vision therapy has its early roots in ophthalmological procedures for the treatment of crossed-eyes (strabismus) and lazy eye (amblyopia) called orthoptics, its use for the treatment of other forms of binocular vision disorders and visual perceptual problems has largely been developed and provided by optometrists.