It is an exciting benchmark in a child's education when he or she learns to read. It's also a time where that child can feel proud and accomplished. Some children, however, face obstacles when they are learning to read. Difficulty reading rarely has one definite cause, but vision problems are often a part of it .. Bad vision also happens to be a problem that is often overlooked. Surprisingly, parents do not always consider eyesight when their child is having trouble learning to read. It's not that they are bad parents, but they may have been given a false sense of security when their child passed a school screening, or because the child does not complain. Maybe the child has not had a comprehensive eye exam yet. No mater the reason, vision needs to be considered, because it plays a huge part of how children learn to read.
Reading is made possible by a combination of visual skills. We are not born with all of the skills that our eyes have. They have to be developed as we grow. You may be surprised at how complex the work is that your eyes do to read! It takes all of these visual skills to read:
Visual Acuity: The ability to see things clearly. It's usually the only test performed at a school screening. It's the basic eye chart test, usually designed to be seen at 20 feet away and measures how a child sees at a distance.
Visual Fixation: The skill required to aim your eyes accurately. There are three different functions of visual fixation- static fixation, which is the ability to focus on a stationary object; saccadic fixation is the ability to move the eyes accurately while still focusing, like when you read a line of print, and pursuit fixation is following a moving object with your eyes. All these functions happen extremely quickly and send the information to the brain
Binocular Fusion: Binocular fusion explains how your eyes work together. Each eye sees two different things but they align and work together to see a single image. When the eyes are misaligned one kind of stops working so hard, and the result may be a lazy eye.
Accommodation: The ability to adjust your focus to different distances. For example students may have to alternate looking at a book on their desk and a chalkboard that their teacher is using.
Convergence: The ability of your eyes to turn toward each other in order to focus on a close object.
Field of vision: The total area in which vision is possible ranging from the periphery to the center field of vision.
Perception: Is the complete process of seeing and understanding what is being seen. It's absolutely necessary for success in school
Now, you might be thinking “that's a LOT to cover”, and it is! Like I mentioned before, a school screening usually only covers how far a child can see at a distance, but there is a lot more that could present a problem when it comes to reading.
Trouble reading does not only come from vision problems, but it is often a contributing factor. If your child is having trouble reading schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist. A comprehensive exam covers all of the visual abilities discussed in this article.