Reading is an essential skill for academic success, but some children may struggle due to undetected visual dysfunction. If you notice your child struggling to read, it may be time to consider a functional vision evaluation.
What are the Necessary Visual Skills for Reading and Learning?
For reading and learning, your child needs the following visual skills:
1. Visual Fixation
This refers to the ability to focus on something that’s not moving, such as a word on a page. Studies have shown that children who have good visual fixation skills are more likely to understand what they’re reading than children who have poor visual fixation.
This refers to the eyes’ ability to adjust their focus as the distance between your child and the target shifts from near to far. Good accommodation is important because classroom learning often requires your child to shift their focus from near distances (like a book or paper on their desk) to far distances (like the teacher or writing on the whiteboard.)
3. Binocular Fusion
Binocular fusion is the ability to see one clear image, despite having two eyes. This means that our brains take what each eye sees and combine them into a single picture. This helps us see things clearly and accurately judge how near or far they are to us (visual perception). Where your child has trouble with binocular fusion, they may see double when trying to read, struggle to concentrate during school and homework, or avoid reading altogether.
Another visual skill your child needs to read and learn effectively is saccades, which refers to the quick movements our eyes make to jump from one object to another. These movements are really important for reading and if your child has trouble with saccades, they might lose their place while reading or have trouble finding things in cluttered spaces.
Convergence is how the eyes work together to look at things up close, like when reading a book or working on a puzzle. A child with convergence issues may experience blurry vision when reading or have trouble concentrating on close-up tasks.
How to Spot Signs of Vision Problems in Your Child
Your child may be experiencing visual dysfunction if you notice the following behaviors in them:
- Reading below their grade level
- Having a low attention span
- Resisting going to school or doing homework
- Shying away from reading out loud or avoiding reading altogether
- Struggling to summarize or remember what they’ve read
- Taking frequent bathroom breaks during reading-related activities
- Covering one eye, tilting their head, or frequently blinking their eyes when looking at distant objects, such as a blackboard.
How Vision Therapy Can Improve Reading Skill
Vision therapy has been shown to improve visual skills and reading abilities in children. In a particular study, the reading abilities of some sixth graders improved by an astonishing 220% after participating in 12 sessions of vision therapy.
If you suspect that a vision problem may be preventing your child from reaching their academic potential, contact our developmental optometrist, Dr. Kaiser Sharieff, at Vision Performance Optometric Center to schedule a functional visual evaluation today.
Our vision therapy program uses visual aids and tools like prisms, filters, eye patches, balance beams, and digital simulations, which can help your child overcome reading struggles and achieve academic success.
Our practice serves patients from Yorba Linda, Tustin, Anaheim, and Orange, California and surrounding communities.