The Visual Learning Center offers
developmental optometry & vision therapy
in Olney, Maryland, convenient to Silver Spring.
Is your child struggling to read, and you don’t know why? One of the most frequent complaints by parents who visit the Visual Learning Center is that their child is having difficulty reading or reading below grade level.
This can be particularly disheartening for parents who love to read or remember fondly curling up with a good book as a child. You may have even noticed that your child seemed to read easily in Kindergarten, but then fell behind as time went on.
You sense something is wrong, but assessments and interventions for learning disabilities, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorders haven’t helped.
One commonly overlooked type of condition that might be interfering with your child’s ability to read could be a learning-related functional vision problem, even with “20/20” eyesight. An undiagnosed vision disorder or deficiency can make reading incredibly difficult.
When parents first learn that their child may potentially have a learning-related vision problem that’s interfering with their ability to read well, they usually wonder why the school’s vision screening or family eye doctor didn’t detect a problem.
The problem is routine vision screenings typically only test for the child’s ability to see clearly at a distance for a few moments. Reading requires intense and sustained focusing of the eyes for a prolonged period time, moving the eyes smoothly along lines of text, and processing of the information through the entire visual system for comprehension.
Here are 7 Reasons Children With Undiagnosed Vision Problems Struggle to Read (even with 20/20 eyesight):
They lose their place when reading.
To read, the eye jumps across the text and fixates on certain points; with each fixation, the child takes in either a whole word or part of a word while the eye is momentarily stationary. If your child has trouble with eye tracking, they will often lose their place in the text, making reading difficult.
They see letters in reverse.
Many parents assume letter reversals are always a sign of dyslexia. Letter reversals are also a common symptom of vision problems, such as eye movement disorders and visual processing deficiencies, which can make reading challenging.
Their eyes are not moving together as a team.
The ability to move, turn, and point the eyes together at the same time is called eye teaming or binocular vision skills. If a child’s eyes are not working together as a team, they may be experiencing double vision or blurry vision, which makes reading tiring.
Their eyes and brain do not work together efficiently.
Vision includes a lot more than eyesight. Vision is comprised of three main components — reception, processing, and output; and each of these main components of vision is complex. If any aspect of the complex vision system is not functioning in a normal and healthy way, this can interfere with the ability to read.
Their eyes do not stay focused.
Children with accommodative dysfunction, or trouble focusing, have difficulty maintaining a clear image for a reasonable length of time. Reading is challenging because the text grows fuzzy or blurred, and they have to strain to stay focused.
They quickly forget what they just learned or read.
Visual memory is the ability to look at something, create a mental image for that thing, and hold that picture in your mind for later recall and use. To read, a child must look at a word, recognize and recall individual letters and strings of letters, create a mental image for that word and associate it with a meaning, and hold that word picture in mind to see and retrieve later. If a child has a visual memory deficiency, the process is a struggle and it affects their ability to read.
They’re frustrated and tired.
Children with vision problems are constantly overcompensating for their deficiencies and straining, so resulting irritability and physical symptoms are common. For this reason, the child may seem restless or “act out” with disruptive behavior. They may experience headaches or exhaustion after reading or complain that their eyes hurt, feel tired, or that their eyes are excessively dry or watery.
Once diagnosed, the good news is, an individualized vision therapy program can result in significant improvement in a relatively short period of time.