2012-08-01 / Health

The link between vision and learning

By Dr. S. Moshe Roth

A ugust has been proclaimed as Children’s Vision and Learning Month by Gov. Chris Christie and many local government officials. Its purpose is to promote the detection of vision problems that affect reading and learning.

It is a common misconception that eyeglasses solve all vision problems and that all eye examinations test for all vision issues. Specific tests are needed to uncover vision problems that affect reading and learning.Vision therapy may be the answer to solving underlying vision problems that are at the root of a reading a learning issue. How important is good vision to learning? About 80 percent of all learning during a child’s first 12 years comes through vision. Undetected and untreated vision problems can interfere with the ability to perform to one’s full learning potential.

Vision problems can affect comprehension and performance in reading. It can also cause poor eye-hand coordination, and even social, emotional or discipline problems.Vision problems can have a profound effect on your child’s life and ability to succeed. Most vision screenings by a school nurse or a pediatrician consists of visual acuity. It is common to confuse 20/20 visual acuity as being perfect vision.Acuity is a component of vision.Vision includes the ability to use the eyes together as a team at distance and near, and moving them together, easily and efficiently, from one distance to another. When reading, we must move our eyes across the page, fixate, jump from one word to the next, and sustain that ability. We must then be able to use central and peripheral information and integrate that with our other senses (hearing, touch, balance, etc.) so we can understand what we see.

Vision problems are more common than most people would think.The National Parent Teacher Association estimates 10 million children suffer from vision problems.According to statistics by Prevent Blindness America, one in 20 preschoolers and one out of every four school-age children have vision problems. Also, three out of every five students identified as problem learners have undetected vision problems.These numbers are significant especially if your child is one of them.

The good news is that with early diagnosis and appropriate comprehensive intervention, the prognosis is good. Vision therapy is a progressive program performed under doctor supervision, individualized to fit the visual needs of each patient. It is generally conducted in office once or twice weekly, and reinforced with home therapy.The ultimate goal of therapy is to help patients develop or improve fundamental visual skills and abilities, improve visual comfort, ease, and efficiency, and change how a patient processes or interprets visual information. Optometric vision therapy is supported by ongoing evidence based scientific research.

Dr. S. Moshe Roth, optometric physician, is board certified in vision development and therapy and practices at Family Eye Care, in Old Bridge. For August, Children’s Vision and Learning Month, he is offering a free vision screening to detect reading and learning problems. Call 732-679-2020 to schedule a time. Lic. No. 4635 OM No. 27OM0005600.

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