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Visual Skills are More Overlooked Than We Might Believe | Back To School


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Back to School: Visual Skills are More Overlooked than we Might Believe

August has been proclaimed as a Vision & Learning month in the USA since 1995. It is a yearly campaign of College of Optometrists in Vision Development to increase awareness about undiagnosed or misdiagnosed vision problems. The fact is that visual skills are more overlooked than we might believe.

Therefore, the goal of vision and learning month is to encourage high quality vision exams for children and make this first step towards improving visual skills at the beginning of the school year which can increase the children’s capacity for learning also in the long term.

We have also decided to support you in starting this school year off right by providing good sources of information about the issue of undetected visual problems, the importance of vision in the learning process, the ways you can notice that vision might be the source of troubles and, nonetheless, provide you with steps that can lead you on the way of discovering and improving your child’s visual skills.

Visual Skills are very Important, but Often Overlooked

Let’s start off with some statistics:

70-80% of incoming sensory information to your brain comes through vision.

25% of school age children are affected by learning related visual conditions.

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80% of problem readers were found to be lacking one or more visual skills.

Less than 15 % of kids have had their eyes examined before starting school.

All this data can make it clear for us to understand that visual problems:

  • are widely spread,
  • seriously and deeply affect the patients’ learning process and
  • are incredibly overlooked.

Undetected Visual Problems are a Larger Societal Issue

Over Speeding our Children’s Development

Increasing demands of productivity and speed are a reality in the world we live in and even the realm of education is not exempt. Feeling the systemic pressure, teachers and parents often start to transfer it to their children to make sure they keep up with the rhythm and the demands.

Children’s developmental stages and needs might happen to be overlooked due to this dynamic. It is important to know that children’s physiology needs time to develop and be ready for certain cognitive processes, such as reading for which specific muscles must develop to function effectively.

Fostering Children’s Vision Development Through Movement and Play: Insights for Nurturing Growth

Even encouraging movement and the advantages it brings for children’s development is often overlooked and instead they spend too much time indoors and seated. You might be surprised to hear that movement represents an important part of vision development, especially in the field of processing and integration system to achieve visual-motor integration and auditory-visual integration. To understand the development of vision which is more than seeing 20/20, read more in this blog.

Carrying that in mind, adults should let children play freely, be creative, take breaks when they need them, get away from schoolwork instead of applying constant pressure. It might feel counterintuitive, but applying constant pressure can cause more harm than following their rhythm. It is not always easy to follow this guideline, but try to focus on how you can nourish your children and give them space to grow and develop by respecting their process and believing their needs.

Movement represents an important part of child's vision development.

Lack of Awareness Within the Educational System

Another problem that children experience after entering school is that there are many parents, educators and medical practitioners who are unaware of the impact that functional vision has on learning or may even be unwilling to accept the reality.

There are certain widespread functional vision problems, such as convergence insufficiency, that are not detected by typical vision screenings and that many adults do not know about.

1 in 4 children experiences vision problem that influence their learning process.

Breaking the Cycle: Addressing Unrecognized Vision Issues in Children for a Brighter Future

Since these issues are often unrecognized and untreated, they can have a serious impact and cause lives to spiral downward. There is a link between functional vision problems and the juvenile delinquent population – 75% of the population experience vision issues that impact learning!

The solution to this is a general change of educational paradigm with redesigned curricula and different learning standards that respect children’s developmental stages. It is also very important to educate adults about these issues and define mechanisms to handle vision-related learning problems, so that we avoid an increased number of children encountering them. This kind of systematic change should prevent that children get help only when they are lucky enough.

Visual problems can be misdiagnosed with ADHD or dyslexia.

Misdiagnosed Visual Problems with ADHD or Dyslexia

There is one more field where things get confusing or even mixed up. Did you know that 15 out of 18 symptoms for ADHD are also present with the vision-related learning problem and 13 out of the 17 symptoms out of dyslexia also present with the vision-related learning problem?

These facts are very important indicators for parents to make sure to include vision exams into their children’s check ups. They can either rule the vision problems out or make sure they do not stay untreated. It especially makes sense to research this path if you have already tried many different ways to research the root of your child’s learning issues (and related behaviours) and not found out what it is.

Decreased Visual Skills Might also be Induced

Concussions in children have risen in number and they are present in children with younger and younger ages due to more organized forms of sports. A hit to the head can severely influence all the neurological channels where a major part of the vision puzzle happens.

If they had a concussion, it is important to check whether it has impacted their vision and pay attention for possible cues even in the future. The signs can be very subtle, but deeply felt by a child and it can limit them in their ability to meet their full potential.

Why are Visual Skills Overlooked: Children do not Know Whether they See Well

The problem is that children cannot imagine how to see the world differently than how they actually see it. They might see something and not know it is not normal. They do not report it because they think this is how everyone sees, so they might continue trying to study even though they experience e. g. double vision and it makes their school tasks incredibly demanding. At the same time, the adults often cannot realize it because they do not see the world through their kids’ eyes.

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Conclusion: Visual Skills are Very Overlooked

Despite the pervasive impact of visual problems on learning, awareness remains limited. Academic pressures sometimes overshadow developmental needs, and functional vision problems often go unnoticed by the educational and medical systems, resulting in misdiagnoses or untreated conditions.

Preventing misdiagnoses requires routine comprehensive vision exams. Given children’s limited ability to self-identify visual issues, the involvement of parents and professionals is crucial in recognizing and addressing potential problems that might hinder learning.

Ultimately, the Vision & Learning Month initiative underscores the importance of comprehensive visual health in children’s education, encouraging early intervention and heightened awareness to unlock their full learning potential.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is August proclaimed a Vision and Learning Month?

August has been proclaimed a Vision & Learning month in the USA since 1995. It is a yearly campaign of College of Optometrists in Vision Development to increase awareness about undiagnosed or misdiagnosed vision problems.

What is the goal of Vision and Learning Month?

Its goal is to encourage high quality vision exams for children and make this first step towards improving visual skills at the beginning of the school year which can increase the children’s capacity for learning also in the long term.

Can ADHD or dyslexia be misdiagnosed with visual problems?

Yes. It often happens that children are misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar. Some of the symptoms include skipping and rereading lines, having poor reading comprehension, taking longer to do homework, and showing a short attention span for close work.

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Why Do We Suggest a Minimum Time of 6 Months for Success?

Based on the data from over 15,000 patients using AmblyoPlay, improvements start within 4 months, while optimal results take anywhere between 6-18 months on average. The duration of required training depends on the patient’s age, the severity of the problem, accompanying diseases, and adherence to the training program.

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