Category Archives: Vision Therapy

child with vision problem

9 Signs Your Child May Have an Undiagnosed Vision Problem

Vision problems that affect learning are all-too-often overlooked or misdiagnosed. Eye exams conducted at your child’s school or by your family eye doctor typically only screen for the ability to see clearly at a distance; so it is possible for the results to show 20/20 vision without detecting an eye movement problem or visual processing deficiency. To detect a learning-related vision problem, your child would need to undergo a thorough functional vision exam by an optometrist trained in developmental vision care.

However, without awareness of the signs of a learning-related vision problem, parents and education professionals tend to mistake the vision problem for a learning disability, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). Unfortunately, many children struggle in school because of an undiagnosed vision problems for years unnecessarily, when the problem could improve significantly with vision therapy.

Montgomery County Parents: Don’t miss Dr. Nicholson’s upcoming webinar. Click here to register and learn about how undetected vision problems could be interfering with your child’s performance in school.

Here are 9 signs your child may have an undetected vision problem:

1. Skipping while reading or writing

Problems with eye muscle coordination, such as eye tracking and eye teaming, may cause a child to skip words or lines while reading or writing. You may notice your child losing his place while reading or copying from the board, rereading words or lines, or using a finger, pencil or some other tool in an attempt to maintain his place while reading or writing.

2. Reversing or getting confused

Children with visual processing problems commonly confuse their left with their right, or reverse letters, numbers, or words. This is why parents often suspect dyslexia. You may also notice that your child confuses similar looking words or substitutes words while reading.

3. Below average reading performance

You may wonder why your bright child is having difficulty reading, or reading very slowly, carefully, and without confidence. Children with deficient visual processing skills, such as visual memory, also have difficulty comprehending and remembering what they have read, as well as trouble with spelling.

4. Poor handwriting skills

If your child has exceptionally messy handwriting with crooked or poorly spaced letters and words, this might indicate a vision problem. He could be misaligning words or letters because he is having trouble with eye teaming or eye tracking.

5. Noticeable coping behaviors

Have you noticed your child squinting or bending close to her paper to read, even though her eyesight is 20/20? Have you seen her covering or closing one eye or tilting her head to an unusual angle while reading? These behaviors could be to compensate for an eye muscle coordination problem.

6. Attention problems

Often, children with vision problems are mistakenly thought to have attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). Because of eye movement problems and deficiencies in their visual processing skills, they are constantly struggling in school and become frustrated. For this reason, the child may seem restless in the classroom environment or during homework, avoid activities that require visual concentration, or “act out” with disruptive behavior, much like children with ADD/ADHD.

7. Physical response

Children with vision problems are constantly overcompensating for their deficiencies and straining, so resulting physical symptoms are common. You may notice your child has headaches or exhaustion after reading or other intense visual activities, complaints that their eyes hurt or feel tired, or excessively dry, watery eyes, or red eyes. You may also see them blinking excessively or rubbing their eyes. Another related physical symptom is unexplained  motion sickness.

8. Sight abnormalities

A child with vision problems may complain of double vision or blurred vision, especially when looking up and down, such as copying from the board. There may be a sensitivity to light. He may complain that the text on the page is going in and out of focus, moving, or jumping, or that lines and letters are running together. Because it is possible this way of seeing is all they know, they could find it challenging to describe what they are experiencing, so pay close attention.

9. Body movement and awareness

Aside from learning-related activities, a child with vision problems may also have difficulty in social settings or in sports. She may have trouble with clumsiness, poor coordination, slow hand-eye coordination, or awkwardness with personal space boundaries.

Overall, the signs and symptoms of vision problems that affect children are varied and diverse. Coupled with lack of awareness about eye movement and visual processing skills, misdiagnosis is common. If you have noticed any combination of these symptoms in your child, schedule a functional vision exam with an optometrist trained in developmental vision care. Once diagnosed, the good news is, an individualized vision therapy program can result in significant improvement in a relatively short period of time.

If you are in the Olney or Silver Spring, MD area, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center today for an appointment.

Vision Therapy Exercise: Stickman Activity Packet

When a child has difficulty with reading, concentrating, confusing their left and right sides, or reversing letters, their challenges may indicate an undiagnosed vision problem. He or she could be struggling with eye movement skills or visual processing skills due to an underdeveloped ability to move or coordinate their eye muscles or an inability to process visual information through the brain efficiently.

A functional vision exam by an optometrist who specializes in developmental vision care can either rule out or diagnose a learning-related vision problem. If a child is found to have a vision problem that cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, a comprehensive, individualized vision therapy program often leads to significant improvement in a relatively short amount of time.

Eye movement skills or visual processing skills can be trained and developed through practicing a prescribed set of activities that a child will undergo with the guidance of a trained vision therapist. At the Visual Learning Center in Olney, MD, we suggest students supplement their in-office therapy with practice at home.

The Stickman Activity is one such exercise, designed to improve eye movement skills and visual processing skills. Working through and practicing this activity can improve the following skills:

  • Laterality and directionality — required for writing and recognizing orientation and direction
  • Figure ground — required to distinguish an image relative to its background or context
  • Visual concentration – required to fixate attention long enough to complete tasks and for comprehension

The vision therapy stickman activity is simple but effective. The person doing the activity is instructed to view a sheet that contains simple drawings of a figure wearing one glove or shoe, then say which hand is wearing the glove or which foot has a shoe on it. The goal is to first reach accuracy, then enhance difficulty by increasing speed or including rhythm elements.

Download your activity packet here.

Watch the video below for a demonstration:

 

summer reading

Summer Vision Screening: When a Bright Child Struggles in School Summer is the Season to Discover Why

As your child wraps up another school year, now may be a good time to reassess his or her progress and struggles. You might be asking yourself some of the following questions and wondering what you can do to help set your child up for success as a student:

  • Did my child advance this year or seem to fall behind?
  • Is my child reading on-level, or still having difficulty keeping up with classmates?
  • Did my child’s behavior disrupt his learning environment this year?
  • Does social awkwardness or clumsiness seem to be interfering with my child’s happiness or self-esteem?

If you are concerned about your child’s performance in school, or perhaps in social interactions and sports, summer is the season to focus on getting to the root of your child’s difficulties and finding the best available help.

If you and your child are dreading making your way through the summer reading list, it may be time to figure out why what could be an enjoyable activity has become such a chore.

When a child struggles in school, summer can be a welcome break from suffering through long days in the classroom and tackling difficult homework assignments in the evenings. Without the daily stress of school, summer can also be the best time to schedule assessments for learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, perceptual deficiencies that could be interfering with learning, and start treatment.

What you may not have considered is that one possible culprit behind your child’s struggles could be a vision problem. Learning-related vision problems are often over-looked because symptoms sometimes mimic or appear similar to learning disabilities, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorder.

Register for an upcoming webinar here.

Children with vision problems that interfere with learning are often found to have “20/20” eyesight when they undergo typical vision screenings at school or with the family eye doctor, so parents and teachers may not suspect a problem with vision. A more thorough functional vision exam is needed to uncover visual processing deficiencies.

When a child’s vision system does not work efficiently, visual skills deficiencies can contribute to learning problems. For the learning process to work as it should, your child must first be able to see, then use what he sees to understand. The ability to see letters on a chart for an eye exam is not enough — 20/20 is just the beginning.

Symptoms of vision problems include, but are not limited to:

  • Squinting while reading near or far
  • Rubbing red, irritated, or watering eyes
  • Rubbing temple or forehead and complaining of headaches
  • Complaints of dizziness or motion sickness
  • Skipping words or losing place while reading
  • Confusing similar words
  • Reversing letters
  • Being easily distracted, inattentive, unable to stay on task
  • Disruptive behavior, especially after expressing frustration with work
  • Poor hand-eye coordination, depth perception, or awkwardness and clumsiness
  • Performing noticeably better on oral vs. written demonstrations of learning

If you or your child’s teacher have noticed any of these symptoms, take your child to an optometrist that specializes in developmental and functional care for an in-depth vision screening this summer. If your child is found to have a problem with eye focusing, eye teaming, eye tracking, or visual processing, you could be one step closer to having answers you need to improving your child’s performance in school and self-esteem.

The good news is, with an individualized vision therapy program, significant progress can be made within a relatively short period of time, even in time for next school year.

If you live in or near Olney, MD, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson, O.D. and his staff at the Visual Learning Center. Call 301-570-4611 for a comprehensive assessment and to see if your child might significantly benefit from vision therapy this summer.

How Vision Problems Interfere with Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension refers to a child’s ability to not only read the text on a page, but also process it and understand its meaning.

For a child to develop reading comprehension, the entire visual processing system must work efficiently. Seeing the text clearly is only the first step in the process. Your child must know how to sound out a word or remember a word on sight, understand each word’s meaning, and then make sense of sentences and paragraphs.

Intelligence is one factor in reading comprehension, but there are many more factors that come into play in a child’s ability to both read and comprehend. Some bright children have difficulty with reading comprehension due to problems with their visual processing system.

In order to read, we take in visual information in the form of text and then decode it into mental images to which we assign meaning, and then retain and use those images to categorize and recall for future use.

Taking in visual information efficiently requires the coordination of hundreds of eye muscles and strong oculomotor control. If there is a weakness or deficiency, this can affect a child’s ability to focus both eyes on the same spot simultaneously or to move their eyes smoothly as a team across a line of text. Poor eye tracking,  eye teaming, or focus leads to difficulty and frustration for a child, and the extra effort to take in visual information may cause fatigue, headaches, or the inability to maintain attention.

Once the visual information is taken in through the eyes, the process of comprehension has only just begun.  Next up, a child’s brain will have to run the information through the process of visual perception, meaning they will have to be able to extract the information they see and use it appropriately.

Efficient visual perception is needed for a child to recognize and remember letters, words, and their meaning. If a child has a deficiency related to visual perception, he will struggle with minor differences in similar words or letters. This may lead to confusing p with q or d with b, for example; or it may also mean conflating words with similar beginnings, reading words backwards, or having difficulty distinguishing the main idea of a story from a minor detail. Recognizing, remembering, and applying information quickly and easily is critical for performance in reading comprehension, and student must have a healthy vision system to do so.

The following are specific ways visual perceptual processing may interfere with reading comprehension:

Visual Spatial Skills and Visual Discrimination are required to organize visual space and understand directional concepts and orientation. A child with poor visual spatial and discrimination skills may process a letter or word backwards.

Visualization is the ability to create a mental image in one’s mind, which is important for processing and remembering information for comprehension. When someone says, “I see what you mean,” we think of this a an idiom, but when it comes to reading and visual processing, we really are creating mental images that help us to comprehend. We’re essentially seeing something in our mind.

Visual Memory is the ability to retain information that you have learned. A child must be able to recognize and remember a word from one page, assignment, and day to the next. He must create an image of that word or set of words in his mind and recall it as needed.

Visual Sequential Memory refers to the ability to remember the proper sequence of words, letters, or story narrative, in the same order it was seen originally. Keeping the images of what they recall in order is of course critical to comprehension.

So, as you can see, the ability to comprehend is not simply a function of intelligence.

If a child is having difficulty moving and coordinating his eye muscles properly and then the child also has difficulty processing that information visually in his brain, he is going to perform poorly in the area of reading comprehension as a result.

If a student has a visual processing problem, reading comprehension can be improved significantly and relatively quickly with an individualized comprehensive vision therapy plan. If you suspect your child has a learning-related vision problem that interferes with reading comprehension, contact a developmental optometrist for a functional vision exam and vision therapy program.

If you are in the Olney. Maryland area, convenient to Silver Spring, schedule an appointment with Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center today.

Vision Therapy Exercise: Discrimination Orientation Arrows Activity

If your child struggles with determining the correct letter orientation — or reversing letters when writing — due to a visual processing skills deficiency, vision therapy exercises can help.

Discrimination Orientation Arrows (DOA) is a vision therapy activity that develops visual discrimination, which is a skill essential in determining correct letter orientation and preventing letter reversals among students with learning-related vision problems.

In this activity, students work with a sheet of paper that contains a series of arrows, which are pointing in various directions. The vision therapist asks students to look at the sheet and indicate which direction each arrow is pointing, by saying “left” or “right” while the eyes are moving across the page.We encourage students to start slowly and allow for mistakes and self-correction to build their confidence.

This activity seeks to mimic the process of selecting a direction for each letter while writing.  “Should d point right or left? Should b point left or right? Which direction should I write q? Which direction should I write p?”

With practice, the outcome children enjoy is that they begin to catch their mistakes faster, reduce the frequency of errors, and dramatically boost their self-esteem. As the student improves, we incorporate a metronome into the activity and they use the beat to enhance deeper comprehension of discrimination orientation skills, until they become second nature. Soon, they will be writing b, d, q, p, etc. correctly, and with confidence.

Watch this video to see a demonstration of the Discrimination Orientation Arrows activity in progress and download a Discrimination Arrows activity packet here.

 

Should you wish to learn more about this vision therapy activity for letter reversals or schedule an appointment with Visual Learning Center in Olney, Maryland, contact us today at (301) 570-4611.

Can vision problems affect my child’s life outside of school?

While many vision problems are first suspected in a school setting or learning environment when a child has difficulty with reading, writing, math, or engages in disruptive classroom behavior, vision problems can also significantly affect the child’s life outside of school.

If a child has a visual processing issue, seemingly simple tasks may be more difficult for him than other children. He may struggle to learn how to tie his shoes, match his socks, or follow demonstrated instructions. You might notice that he has trouble remembering his own address, phone number, or retelling stories about something he watched on television or experienced.

Vision problems also affect social interaction. Your child might appear awkward, clumsy, or other children may complain that he is invading their personal space, because he has trouble with spatial and body awareness and depth perception. The other children might treat him differently because he has developed coping habits, such as constantly rubbing his eyes, squinting, or tilting his head, or because he often complains of headaches or nausea. He may become distracted while talking or ignore the rhythm of a conversation and other social cues. Children or other parents might unfairly judge this behavior as unmannerly or inconsiderate.

In addition to learning difficulties, vision problems can affect physical activity as well. A child with an untreated vision problem may perform poorly in sports due to clumsiness, poor hand-eye coordination, inability to focus, or skewed depth perception. They may be picked last for teams; or the the other children may leave them out of games or tease them.

At home, a child’s untreated vision problems may contribute to stress in the household. Homework can consume hours of family time. Parents often become frustrated or angry with a child if he keeps getting in trouble at school or ‘acting out’ with friends or siblings. Particularly if parents did well in school or sports, they may not be able to relate to their child’s struggles and suspect that their child is not trying or that he’s just ‘bad.’

Dealing with difficulty in school, awkwardness in social settings, poor performance in physical activities, and strained relationships with parents is a lot for a child to handle. While children with other learning disabilities may excel in sports or sociability, vision problems interfere more often beyond the classroom. Falling behind academically and being treated differently by peers and adults can lead to low self-esteem and withdrawal.

Fortunately, a personalized vision therapy program treats visual processing problems. Vision therapy, also known as vision training, is likely to significantly improve performance in academic, athletic, and social settings. In fact, one of the first benefits of vision therapy parents often report is that their child’s self-esteem improves dramatically shortly after starting a vision therapy program.

Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center treats visual processing problems with individualized vision therapy programs in our Olney, MD office, convenient to Silver Spring. Contact us today to schedule a comprehensive exam and consultation.

Teacher Appreciation Week: How Vision Therapy Can Help Teachers

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and we want to express a big thank you to all of the teachers who support students in the classroom. At the Visual Learning Center, we work daily with children who have struggled in school due to learning-related vision problems, sometimes for years before receiving a diagnosis; and their caring, patient, and skilled teachers deserve appreciation for their dedication to each child’s success.

Classroom teachers serve as our allies and partners in vision therapy, so we wish to celebrate their service to the community and welcome the opportunity offer our support in return.

When a child has difficulty in school — particularly if parents feel confident that their child is smart — teachers sometimes endure undue blame. Parents are understandably frustrated when a child performs poorly and may assume the teacher should know what to do to improve their child’s performance.

Teachers are educated in a wide variety of subject matter, teaching methods, and classroom management skills; and they receive training in detecting possible learning disabilities and special needs. However, the majority of teachers are unaware of how common learning-related vision problems are, and most teachers simply do not know how to recognize the symptoms.

Once teachers learn about how vision affects learning, they begin to recognize vision problems in their classroom right away and realize this is something they have been dealing with for years.

So, how can teachers get the help they need?

First, they have to be able to recognize vision symptoms that may affect learning, such as:

  • Squinting while reading near or far
  • Rubbing eyes continuously throughout the day
  • Rubbing temple or forehead and complaining of headaches
  • Complaints of dizziness or motion sickness
  • Skipping words or losing place while reading
  • Confusing similar words
  • Reversing letters
  • Easily distracted, inattentive, unable to stay on task
  • Disruptive behavior, especially after expressing frustration with work
  • Poor hand-eye coordination, depth perception, or awkwardness and clumsiness
  • Performs noticeably better orally than written

As you may recognize, many of these symptoms can also indicate learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, or even health problems; and consequently, misdiagnosis is common. A possible vision problem is often overlooked.

If you are a teacher, you can expect that parents may dismiss your suggestion that their child has a vision problem because he or she has “20/20 eyesight.”  It is important for teachers to understand that the vision problems that affect learning are not usually detected during routine vision screenings at school or typical vision exams with the family’s eye doctor.

Typical vision exams only test for eye sight, or vision clarity at a distance. However, vision involves an entire vision processing system — the coordination of eye muscles and the brain.

A healthy vision system can function well over prolonged periods of time in a classroom setting; but if the child has a vision problem, he will grow tired and frustrated, not understanding why he has so much trouble doing tasks that seem easy for his peers. So a child with vision problems might seem to give up, have low self-esteem, or act out as a result.

Once a child is properly diagnosed by an optometrist who specializes in functional and developmental vision care, he can take part in an intensive individualized vision therapy program, which is likely to bring about remarkably fast and long-term results.

To learn more about vision and vision therapy, download our free guide, watch our webinar, and see our resources for teachers and parents.

If you are a teacher in Olney, Silver Spring, or the surrounding area, invite Dr. Philip Nicholson to speak at your school or association. Click here to learn more.

The Real Reason Your Smart Child Might Be Testing “Below Grade Level”

Standardized tests have long been part of the education system in the United States; but over the past decade mandated standardized testing has increased significantly to become a core component of schooling and a critical measure of your child’s success as a student.

Proponents of standardized tests claim that they are a fair, effective, and efficient way to measure students’ progress and hold schools accountable to goals and expectations. On the other hand, critics argue that standardized tests distract from deeper learning, and that they are unfair because some children do not test well, despite knowing the material.

As a parent, no matter where you stand on this controversial issue, if your child is testing below grade level, it is important for you to find out why.

If your child seems bright, but does not perform well on standardized tests, your first response might be that the teacher is not doing a good job, or that the school is not offering an optimal learning environment, or that the test is unfair. You may have performed well in school and on standardized tests yourself, and feel that someone must be failing your child.  You know that your child is smart, so something must be wrong.

Teachers and counselors will probably suggest testing for a learning disability, or they might suspect dyslexia or attention deficit disorder. The teacher’s performance review and the school’s performance goals are often dependent on students meeting grade level expectations; so it is in everyone’s best interest to get your child the help he needs.

However, there is a common, but often overlooked, problem that may be hindering your child’s test-taking ability. The real reason your child might be testing below grade level could be due to a learning-related vision problem. A vision problem could be to blame for your child’s “below average” reading comprehension or slow test taking, even with “20/20” eyesight.

Vision problems that affect eye muscles and coordination may cause your child to see double or blurry, lose his place often, or experience fatigue and distracting headaches. A visual processing problem related to memory or visualization could be the reason behind delayed reading comprehension.

Unlike a routine vision screening or typical eye exams, school standardized tests require prolonged reading, intense focusing of the eyes for hours at a time, looking from the problem to the answer sheet repeatedly, the ability to follow straight lines to bubble-in answers, and more activities seemingly simple for a child with a normally functioning vision system.

Testing for hours may exacerbate a problem that has not yet surfaced during normal classroom activities, because the child’s eyes may become even more tired than usual.

Poor visual skills that interfere with standardized testing include processing speed and accuracy, selective concentration, visual memory, letter reversals, visual-motor integration and speed, and visualization.

If there is any possibility that a vision problem could be to blame for your child scoring “below grade level” on standardized tests, the first step is to schedule a comprehensive vision exam by a doctor of optometry who specializes in functional and developmental vision care.

If diagnosed with a learning-related vision problem, an individualized vision therapy program can significantly, and relatively quickly, improve your child’s performance. With proper treatment and practice, these vision problems can be overcome.

If you are in the Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD area, contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center to schedule an appointment today.

Does homework in your household drag on for hours? Convergence insufficiency could be the cause

If your child spends hours completing homework each evening, your initial frustration might be with his teacher. You may complain that too much homework is being assigned and worry that the school is to blame for interfering with family time, play time, or outdoor and extracurricular activities; but over time, you eventually realize that your child is taking much longer to complete his homework than his peers.

You know that your child is bright, so why is he struggling to complete homework in a timely manner? You could suspect a learning disability or attention deficit disorder, but your child could actually have a vision disorder, even if he was found to have “20/20” eyesight during a vision screening at school or an exam by your family’s eye doctor.

Vision disorders and poor visual processing skills are sometimes to blame for “homework wars” and poor performance in the classroom.

As a parent, it is important to pay close attention to your child’s symptoms. You might be tempted to dismiss complaints as excuses and urge your child to push forward and try harder. However, if your child has a vision problem such as convergence insufficiency, his symptoms could be presenting significant challenges to performing well on school assignments.

Convergence–the ability to aim ones eyes at a near distance–is a required skill for reading and other schoolwork. Children with a healthy visual system are able to aim their eyes naturally and easily.

Convergence insufficiency is a medical condition in which the brain has trouble accurately, efficiently, and comfortably coordinating the eye muscles to see properly for a prolonged period of time at reading distance.

If your child often complains of headaches or claims that his eyes hurt, feel like they are pulling, tired, or uncomfortable, this could be a sign of convergence insufficiency. Difficulty concentrating or remembering what he has read could be symptoms as well. A child may also complain of double vision, or say that that words float, swim, or move in and out of focus. He may read slowly, lose his place, or read the same line more than once.

If your child is having difficulty in school or completing homework, and you notice any of these red flags, schedule an evaluation with a functional or developmental optometrist, trained to detect and treat learning-related vision problems, as soon as possible. If diagnosed with a vision problem such as convergence insufficiency, the good news is vision therapy can treat and improve your child’s convergence problem significantly and quickly.

If you are in the Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD area, contact the Visual Learning Center today to schedule a comprehensive evaluation with Dr. Philip Nicholson and his staff.

What Appears to be Attention Deficit Disorder Could be a Vision Problem

Have you received a note from school saying your son or daughter is having difficulty paying attention? Did your child’s teacher or counselor recommend testing for attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD)?

Teachers might describe your child as distracted or antsy, report that your child daydreams in class, stares out the window, or looks around the room when he should be focusing on his paper or the board. You may have noticed that your child has a short attention span, trouble reading, and difficulty staying on task or following instructions.

Your pediatrician or a pediatric psychiatrist might have diagnosed your child with attention deficit disorder and prescribed medication, such as Ritalin or Adderall.  No parent wants this diagnosis for their child or to medicate their child unnecessarily. But if a child truly has attention deficit disorder, caring parents want what’s best, so the child can improve, learn, settle down, behave, feel more in control, and get along better with peers. If a child does have ADD/ADHD, proper treatment can work wonders.

However, some children are misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder, when the symptoms they are experiencing are actually related to a vision disorder. Many parents only learn that vision can be at the root of the problem when a child’s behavior and attention does not improve with treatment for attention deficit disorder.

Vision is not usually suspected. Suggestions that a vision problem could be to blame are often initially dismissed; because after all, most children undergo vision screening at school or have an annual exam by their family eye doctor. The child either has “20/20 vision” or he already wears corrective lenses.

However, “20/20 vision” is not enough, as it simply indicates that a patient can see clearly at 20 feet of distance. It does not test how well the child can see close up, how eyes function when they move across a page or from a desk to the board and back again. Screening for 20/20 eye sight also does not assess how well visual processing works, meaning there is no measurement of how well the child is able to remember or make sense of what he sees.

In fact, the eye chart test only catches a small percentage of vision problems. Unfortunately, screening for distance only is outdated and inadequate, considering the tasks and learning activities children need to complete in school.

When a child has a learning-related vision problem and his visual processing skills are weak, he must put forth a tremendous amount of extra effort just to keep his eyes turned correctly, focused, aligned, and recall or process what he is learning. This extra effort can cause fatigue, headaches, and unease.

As a result of experiencing visual difficulties, the child may choose to stare into space, respond to irritability by moving around or choosing an activity that does not cause as much stress on his visual system, or react to his frustration with disruptive behavior. What appears to be daydreaming, distraction, or ‘acting out’ may simply be avoidance or coping behaviors. He does not understand that something is wrong; he is simply adapting to his environment and expectations as best he can.

If your child’s attention or behavioral problem is resulting from a vision deficiency, the good news is a personalized intensive vision therapy program can result in significant and lasting improvement within a relatively short period of time.

To be clear, not all attention problems are related to vision. A child may be dealing with neurological, psychological, nutritional, environmental, auditory processing, or any number of factors. Vision therapy only helps with attention and behavioral problems if a child has a vision problem.

To determine if your child has a vision problem that may be affecting his attention or behavior, he should undergo a functional vision exam and through vision assessment by an optometrist that specializes in functional and developmental vision care.

If you suspect a vision problem, or you want to rule out a vision problem in your child, and you live near Olney, MD or Silver Spring, MD, contact us to schedule an appointment with the Visual Learning Center.