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Vision & Learning

The way eyes work together and focus can affect a person’s ability to read, process and understand information. Studies show that deficiencies in these areas can lead to a significant handicap in learning. Treatments designed to remediate vision difficulties can help overcome these problems–improving the ability to read and learn.


  • One out of four children struggle with reading and learning because of undiagnosed vision problem.
  • 60% of children with learning problems have vision problems
  • 80% of learning in the classroom is visual
  • 18 million children have not had their eyes examined prior to starting school
  • More than 17 visual skills are needed for successful learning and reading
  • The majority of vision problems that interfere with academic success are treatable



Lesen ist doofThere are more than 17 visual skills required for reading and learning, including the ability to point the eyes together as a team, to focus and to track across the page as we read. These skills are often not tested in most vision screenings. Passing a vision screening which test only clarity at distance gives parents a false sense of security that vision is fine.

If any of the 17 visual skills are not functioning properly, it can make reading and learning an unnecessary challenge. Some children develop behavior problems, while others avoid reading and near tasks or simply refuse to read. Usually the child is bright, causing parents to be confused why the school difficulties. Often the child is labeled hyperactive, lazy or slow.  What makes this even worse is that many of these vision problems can easily be mistaken for learning disabilities or attention problems such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).




Eye teaming is the ability to effectively converge or align both eyes together to perform near oriented visual tasks. If the eyes do not aim at the same point, extra energy and effort is required to maintain eye alignment and double or overlapping vision may occur.

A child may skip words, lose their place when reading, re-read lines or phrases in a sentence and exhibit poor reading comprehension.  They may also have a short attention span and become easily distracted.


An example of how a child may see with poor eye teaming skills is shown below.




Focusing is the ability to maintain a clear image when reading or transitioning to far objects. It allows for quick and accurate shifts when viewing images from the desk to the board. Ability to sustain focus at near and maintain single clear vision is an important skill in school-aged children as most of the time is spent close up.

A child with poor focusing abilities may complain of eye fatigue, frontal or temporal headaches after near work, blurred vision and reduced reading comprehension.


An example of what the child may see if he/she has focusing difficulty is shown below.



Commonly referred to as “tracking”, maintaining fixation on a moving target (pursuits) or accurately switching fixation between two targets  (saccades) are two types of eye movements that are essential for reading and learning.  Ocular motility also allows accurate shifts in fixation from distance to near when copying materials from the board.


A child who has poor eye movements or “tracking” abilities may skip words, lose their place when reading, re-read lines or phrases in a sentence and exhibit poor reading comprehension.  They may also have a short attention span and become easily distracted.


An example of what the child may see if he/she has difficulty with tracking is shown below.



Directionality is the ability to understand directional concepts such as right, left, up, down.  This skill is important in understanding how similar shapes can have different meanings when they are in different orientations. Below is an example of some letters that are commonly reversed by children with poor directionality.  The letters are the exact same shape, but are called different names depending on their orientation.

b   d   p   q 

This can be a difficult concept because if another object, such as a chair, is turned on its side or upside-down it is still called a chair.




A child who has difficulty with directionality concept may continue to show reversals past age seven.



Visual perception is an important skill that enables one to make sense out of what is seen.

  • Visual figure ground is the ability to identify a figure that is embedded within a background.   It is the ability to derive meaning when there is a myriad of other visual information (or clutter) on the page.
  • Visual closure is the ability to derive meaning from visually presented information that is not complete in its form, nor its’ content.
  • Visual memory is the ability to recall information that was previously seen from memory.  Math, spelling and playing the game Concentration requires this skill.
  • Visual discrimination is the ability to identify similarities and differences in shapes.  For example recognizing the differences between the words can and cat, son and sun, etc.
  • Visual motor integration is the ability to take in, analyze and reproduce visual information using a paper and pencil.  Copying information from the board and handwriting require visual motor integration.

A child who has difficulty with visual perception may misread words, have difficulty with spelling and math (especially when they have to translate a word problem into a number problem).



Children who can read at accelerated speeds often have good span of recognition, allowing them to recognize and process several words at one time.  Children lacking this skill may only be able to see one word or even one letter at a time.  The reading will be slow and hesitant, as if they are seeing the words for the first time. In order to see what this is like, try reading a sentence or a paragraph while looking through a straw.

An example below shows what the text may look like to a child with poor span of recognition.

On  ce  up  o                                                                           Once upon a time
na ti me  t h                                                                            there was a boy
e  re w  as ab                                                                                      named Jack.
oy na  me  d Ja ck.



Visualization is the ability to create mental images. Children who have vision problems may also have difficulty with visualization.  This skill is important for success in many school subjects including reading, spelling and math.

Education School Boy Learning on White

Considering 80% of the information we process comes from through our visual system, it’s not surprising that a vision problem can affect a number of different subjects and therefore make learning difficult.


If your child struggles with reading or learning, call our office to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.