Vision and learning

Children in the classroom learning

The new school year will (unfortunately) be here very soon. Even though your child may already have all the required materials for the new grade, this is not the only ”asset” that children need to attend school without interruption. We are speaking about bad vision and the issues associated with it. UCLA doctors found that 80% of classroom learning is visual. In addition, over 20% of students have a vision problem that can be identified by screening and over 80-90% of those defects can be corrected with glasses.

There are many learning problems related to vision disabilities. Good eyesight, among many other abilities, is essential for successful learning and inclusion in different school activities. With progress throughout education, there is an increasing demand for visual abilities, especially because of increased workload. As we always emphasize, vision is more than just the ability to have 20/20 eyesight. Rather, there are many more aspects, such as the capacity to comprehend and respond to what the eyes see. Beyond just being able to see properly, fundamental visual abilities are crucial for supporting academic achievement.

Vision skills needed for successful learning

Below are the main visual skills that children need to effectively follow the lessons and perform different school activities.

Eye focusing: the capacity to instantly and precisely retain sharp vision as objects’ distances shift is eye focusing. It is one of the most important skills when it comes to learning. When looking from the chalkboard to a book on the desk and back, this skill is required; otherwise they suffer from copying the board.

Eye movement control: eye movement control refers to our capacity for precise and coordinated eye movement. To do this, our brain must accurately control the twelve eye muscles that surround our two eyes. When a person with poor eye movement control reads, they often miss their place. Consequently, they are perceived as a slow readers. Due to the effort required to keep their eyes in the proper position, individuals may also find it challenging to recall what they have read.

Visual acuity: put simply, visual acuity refers to a person’s ability to see small details. It can also be defined as sharpness or clarity of vision. 20/20 vision means that individual can see an object clearly from 20 feet distance. Visual acuity depends on optical and neurological components, such as health of retina.

Eye tracking: the ability to maintain focus while moving the eyes down a printed text, gazing from one item to another, or tracking a moving object such as a ball is referred to as eye tracking.

Eye teaming: the capacity to estimate distances an perceive depth for classwork and sports, as well as the ability to coordinate and use both eye simultaneously when moving the eyes down a printed text. In other words, it is a visual skill that allows both eyes to work together in a precise and coordinated way. It is also known as binocular vision.

Eye-hand coordination: similarly to the previous, this is a skill to do activities that require the simultaneous use of eyes and hands (drawing, hit something with a ball).

Visual perception: the ability to organize images on a printed page into letters, words and ideas. Furthermore, it means to understand and remember what you read.

How to recognize vision issues in the classroom?

As a parent or educator, you should never undervalue your capacity to recognize that anything could be wrong with a child’s eyesight. Here are some indicators to watch out for in the classroom and elsewhere that might indicate a visual issue:
-Constant squinting or grimacing when reading or focusing,
-Holding books close to face when reading,
-Sitting close to the television or blackboard,
-Complaints of blurred, cloudy or double vision,
-Complaints of headaches,
-Nausea or dizziness,
-Constant burning, itchy or watery eyes,
-Unusual sensitivity to light,
-Closing or covering one eye while reading or focusing on close objects,
-Crossed or lazy eye,
-Low attention span,
-Fidgetiness and behavioral problems,
-Tilting head forward or backward when looking at distant objects,
-Discolored or unequal pupil size, problems with reading,
-Low reading comprehension and poor spelling,
-Swollen eyelids, sties or infections on eyelids,
-Excessive clumsiness,
-Diminished coordination,
-Poor penmanship, complaining that computer use “hurts his eyes”,
-Lower than usual academic performance, often loses place while reading,
-Difficult to remember what they read.

Content-related previous blog post: How important is sight in school?

If your child experiences learning difficulties or you notice any similar signs, do not hesitate to book an appointment with an eye specialist. Learning should be fun and not overwhelming! Last but not least, regular eye examinations are important not only to recognize but also to prevent the worsening of certain vision disorders. 


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