Better Vision = Better Grades

How Parents Can Help

The American Foundation For Vision Awareness re-released this important statement, 80% of what a child will learn in school comesthrough his or her eyesight.” 100% of reading, board work and teacher demonstrations in the classroom are visual.  With these statistics, it is safe to say that children who have better vision will also be better readers, be better students and have better grades and test scores. Children with better vision will also have a higher self-esteem and perform better in sports and other subjects such as music and art.  However, did you know that “good vision” includes more than just 20/20 vision? That visual skills other than 20/20 are also required for reading, writing and comprehension? 

Get your child's eye exam today!

Get your child’s eye exam today!

There are primarily Seven Visual Abilities that are required for “good vision” and these are:

  1. 20/20 – the ability to see small letters on the eye chart temporarily
  2. Focusing ability – maintaining focus for both near and far distances
  3. Eye teaming – coordinating the eyes to work together precisely
  4. Eye movement ability – smoothly moving the eyes from point to point
  5. Visual perception – comparing and understanding things that are seen
  6. Eye-hand coordination ability – using the eyes to guide the hands
  7. Visual imagery – ability to remember or form pictures in the mind

Dr. John Brinkley, a family who also specializes in pediatric developmental optometry says, “All seven visual abilities for learning are important for school-age children. A deficiency in any ONE of these seven areas can significantly affect learning. The most dangerous assumption that a parent can make is that all of the other visual abilities are normal if the child has 20/20 vision. This is simply not true.”

What should parents do to find out if their child’s vision could be improved in order for them to be more successful in school?  First of all, parents should take their children for a complete optometric eye exam before they start in school. Surprisingly, only one third of school-age children have seen an eye doctor prior to starting school because most parents believe that if there are any visual problems, the school nurse or our pediatrician will inform them. This is only true, however, for certain problems, such as not being able to focus to see the board. When other vision problems go undetected, this can quickly affect a child’s school performance and behavior. Handwriting, reading, grades, and attention span deteriorate rapidly as their vision problems progress untreated. Homework, which normally should take 30 minutes, instead drags on for hours. The child’s self esteem drops and frustration builds in both the student and parent.  Schoolwork starts to become a fight and school becomes an unenjoyable experience. Much of this can all be avoided, however, if the child’s eyes are working well and are able to adjust and keep focused easily.

The next step is to quickly correct the child’s vision problem with glasses or vision therapy (vision eye exercises) to avoid the above scenario. Many children who fall behind and are unable to catch up are put into remedial reading or special education classes, when all of their visual abilities have not first been thoroughly checked. Many children who have taken attention deficit medications have been found to have had hidden vision problems that should have been treated first. If a child is suspected to be ‘learning disabled’ or have ‘ADD/ADHD’, parents need to ensure that the eye care specialist checks for all visual abilities, not just 20/20.

Children of any age can experience and develop eye problems. In some cases the onset is slow and unnoticeable, and in others the onset is sudden. Children are not always aware that their vision is not normal. For this reason, the Check Yearly, See Clearly program was launched nationwide.Just as we take our children to the dentist regularly for check-ups, so should parents take their children to an eye care professional on a yearly basis. Think of good vision as a tool for education, just like paper and pencils. Every school-aged child needs to go to school with optimum vision for optimum performance.

A study from the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that, “traditional school vision screenings pick up a relatively small percentage of children with visual problems.” The Snellen Eye Chart, developed in 1862, is still the only test used by most schools and pediatricians to diagnose vision problems. “20/20 vision” is simply the ability to see letters twenty feet away for a brief period of time.  Parents must not assume that if their child passes this simple three-minute eye test at school or in a pediatrician’s office that they have “perfect vision.” As mentioned previously, there is much more to “good vision” than 20/20 eyesight, and glasses alone do not correct the other visual abilities.