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Education Connection: Why Vision Matters to School Success

Your child’s success in school begins with their eye health. Of all of the senses, vision is arguably the most important sense for learning and school success. Vision, as our dominant sense, is our primary source for gathering information in learning – in fact, up to 80% of what we learn is through our eyes!

The Vision Council estimates that 80 percent of learning occurs through visual processing.   From reading and writing to board work and computers, vision plays an important role in how children learn and process information.

It is estimated that six out of every 10 children in South Africa with reduced vision can be corrected with glasses – yet only 20 percent of those children needing glasses actually have them. The most prevalent visual refractive errors in school-aged children are nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Unfortunately, many traditional school vision screenings miss at least 50-percent of vision problems in children. Left untreated, these visual problems can possibly inhibit a child’s full learning potential.

There are many visual skills required to support academic success beyond having 20/20 vision. Specific visual skills like hand-eye coordination, eye tracking, eye teaming, eye aiming, eye focusing, and visual perception skills all can help a child become an effective reader and learner. If any of these skills are missing or not working correctly, it could cause the child to unknowingly overcompensate and possibly lead to  eyestrain, fatigue, and headaches.

Some signs of insufficient visual skills in children can include:

·         Poor reading comprehension

·         Skipping or rereading lines when reading

·         Decreased attention span for short work

·         Performing schoolwork with a decreased level of comprehension and productivity

·         Eye discomfort and/or fatigue

How to Help Improve Children’s Vision and Learning

Regular eye exams – Since vision changes can frequently happen throughout the school-aged years, regular eye and vision care is important. All children, including teenagers, should have a yearly comprehensive eye exam to check for vision changes and abnormalities.

Monitor - Since children do not always express their visual troubles, parents and teachers should watch for signs of eye and vision problems.

Vision therapy - Many eye and vision conditions can be treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, some children may benefit from vision therapy programs designed to develop or improve vision skills.