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What is a Learning Related Vision Problem?

Did you know that approximately 80% of what a child learns at school is learned visually? Acquiring knowledge from the page, the board, the screen, and interactions with teachers and classmates requires continual use of the visual system.

You may think that if your child can see clearly, you’re in the clear; however, vision is much more than clear eyesight. It’s the ability to take in information, process and understand it, and act on it.

Learning-related vision problems result from deficits in visual information processing and visual efficiency.

Vision involves three main components – reception, processing and output.

Reception is the ability to see things clearly, singularly, and comfortably. It’s the input function of the visual system, which can be compared to entering data into a computer.

Visual Processing is your brain’s ability to identify and compute the information received through your eyes. After the computer (your brain) gets the data, it manipulates it, categorises it, and runs it through processes, such as meaning making and comprehension.

Output is the result of visual processing. It’s a response or action. For example, output may be the creation of a mental image, an oral or written response, or a gesture.

The visual system is a complex system that functions smoothly in most cases, and most people take it for granted. However, if any element of the visual system is not functioning as it should, learning can be challenging.

We cannot take in information efficiently and comfortably if we struggle to move or control our eyes in the ways in which they were meant to move. We cannot make sense of what we see with our eyes without the accompanying healthy functioning of the brain and healthy communication between the eyes and brain.

Unfortunately, many children struggle with learning due to undetected vision problems that can be improved successfully with vision therapy. Learning-related vision problems often resemble similar problems that cannot be treated with vision therapy. When you child is having trouble in school or difficulty learning, it can be confusing and troubling for you as a parent or carer. Fortunately, vision therapy addresses and treats learning-related vision problems that might be holding your child back. But the first step is always to determine if your child does have a vision problem.

Signs your child may have an undetected vision problem include:

* Reversing letters when reading or writing
* Confusing similar looking words
* Skipping letters, words, or lines when reading or writing
* Trouble copying from the board even with 20/20 eyesight
* Reading below grade level or low reading comprehension skills
* Messy handwriting
* Physical problems when reading, such as dizziness and nausea, tiredness, or eye strain
* Double vision or blurred vision even with 20/20 eyesight
* Attention or behavioural problems that resemble ADD/ADHD
* Squinting or bending close to the paper to read, covering up or closing one eye, or tilting head
* Clumsiness, social awkwardness, lack of coordination when playing sports or games

A few examples of learning-related vision problems include:

Accommodation dysfunction: trouble using eye muscles appropriately to bring an object into focus clearly or to maintain focus for a sustained period of time. Vision becomes fuzzy or blurred.

Amblyopia (lazy eye): reduced vision in one eye, causing the brain to favour the unobstructed eye over the other and suppresses images from the affected eye.

Convergence insufficiency: the brain has trouble accurately, efficiently, and comfortably coordinating the eye muscle to see properly for a prolonged period of time.

Visual processing deficiencies:the vision system has trouble computing visual input, leading to problems with visual-motor integration and speed, visualisation, visual memory, and more.