The Science – Visual Factors a Primary Cause of Beginning Reader Failure


August is National Children’s Vision and Learning Month!

As promised I wanted to take the next few Science entries to highlight great research showing the correlation between vision and academic performance.

One thing that always amazes me is how just about every mom in America knows that their child needs to get their child’s teeth checked by a dentist before they enter school.  Yet, very few know that they they should get their child’s eyes checked by their eye doctor before those very first days learning how to read.  To which I always think, “How much learning do you do with your teeth.”

A great study named “Visual Factors – A Primary Cause of Failure in Beginning Reading” published in Optometry and Vision Development* looked to see if vision was something that impacted children’s ability to learn to read.  I think all of us can imagine that visual acuity or the ability to see clearly would impact a child’s ability to learn to read, which the study affirmed, but the study also found something else important.  Binocular function, or the ability to use the eyes together in tandem, was also a significant factor in impeding beginning reading.  And doesn’t that make sense?  If we cannot get the two eyes to point to the same place on a book, then a child will see doubling or overlapping of letters on the page.  Obviously, that could make an already difficult task of learning to read much more challenging.

So let’s think about the school screening or the vision check that pediatricians do.  We stand the child 20 ft from the letters on a wall and ask the child to cover an eye.  How much does that check how well the child can use both eyes up close for 5 hours a day at school?  Unfortunately, not very much.  Now, this is not to fault the dedicated school nurses and pediatricians.  Vision is not their specialty.

It does tell us however, that every child needs to have their vision checked before they enter school by their family eye doctor and every one to two years thereafter.  And it also tells us that every parent needs to know the warning signs of a vision problem that may need to be addressed by a developmental optometrist.

  • Headaches, eye strain, or tired eyes with school work
  • Slow or hesitant reading
  • Skipping words or lines on a page when reading
  • Words moving, doubling, or floating on the page
  • Taking hours to do 20 minutes of schoolwork

August is National Children’s Vision and Learning Month!

Schedule a vision examination for your child TODAY!

To find a developmental optometrist near you, follow this link .

For more information on vision problems that affect school performance, learning, and reading please visit the COVD website at www.covd.org.

*Young B, Collier-Gary K, Schwing S. Visual factors – a primary cause of failure in beginning reading. J Optom Vis Devel 1994;25(Winter):276–88.
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Categories: Childhood Development, Learning Related Visual Problems, Reading, Visual SkillsTags: , , , , , , ,

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