Children’s Vision

Learning Difficulties Related to Vision

Learning difficulties in school-aged children are often the result of vision disorders that may be detected during a routine eye examination by optometrists in Amarillo. A child’s vision problems may be resolved when their optometrist prescribes glasses. A child may also have vision problems due to a need for vision therapy which can be performed by an Amarillo optometrist specializing in that area. Sometimes, the problem is due to deficient visual information processing skills. The child sees well, but the brain doesn’t efficiently process information, so the child has difficulty recalling and analyzing it. This is often referred to as dyslexia. Poor school performance can result if any of these 3 areas are not working properly.

Eye problems or the need for glasses prescribed by an optometrist

Learning difficulties and poor grades can be caused by eye problems or the need for glasses to be prescribed by an optometrist. A routine annual eye exam can pick up many eye disorders before they cause a problem. Eye health problems need to be ruled out by an Amarillo optometrist. Children often suffer from allergies, causing them to rub their eyes. Of course, other less common eye disorders, such as congenital cataracts, need to be ruled out by an optometrist also.

Then, if a child needs a new glasses prescription, this should be detected and corrected. The most common childhood eye problem is known as amblyopia by Amarillo optometrists. Amblyopia is commonly known as “lazy eye.” Amblyopia is poor vision, usually due to uncorrected prescription or strabismus (an eye that turns in or out). Amblyopia best responds to treatment if detected by an optometrist before age 3, but still has fair vision recovery after 3 also.

If a child cannot see well, he or she may have difficulty copying from an overhead or chalkboard. Eyestrain may occur, causing them to not want to read or work on a computer. Children may not get homework completed because their vision problems, identified by optometrists in Amarillo, cause them to make mistakes. Homework assignments take an abnormally long amount of time, frustrating and tiring the child. Retention and recall are also reduced.

Optometrists in Amarillo, specializing in vision therapy, help retrain undesirable eye behavior

Effective vision therapy, performed by optometrists specializing in this area, teaches a patient to eliminate existing undesirable eye behavior and automatically replace it with a new desirable eye behavior. For example, a child could have an undesirable eye behavior, such as an intermittent wandering eye. In this case, let’s say the child has an eye that wanders outward, an exotropia (some people call it “wall-eyed.” An eye that crosses inward is known by optometrists as an esotropia, often called “cross-eyed.”) Our eyes must look in the same direction, or we will have double vision. Our adaptive bodies want to get rid of the double vision. We will either make the wandering eye go back to a straight position OR we will learn to ignore or suppress the second image that causes us to see double. A young child will typically learn to suppress, and therefore, there is no stimulus to make the eye go back to straight ahead position. Over time, suppression is the normal response, and the intermittent eye turn may now become constant. Additionally, if the child is very young, a constant crossed eye can lose vision and the child develops amblyopia, or “lazy eye.”

Vision therapy in Amarillo would be directed toward eliminating the undesirable behavior, in this case, crossing an eye and suppressing the double image. Vision therapy would give the child feedback informing him when he is performing correctly, and use that feedback when he feels his eye crossing. So, in this case, the child would be taught to recognize the double vision, rather than suppress it, and use biofeedback to keep the eye straight. Exercises performed by an optometrist specializing in vision therapy will be prescribed for both in-office and take home. The goal is for the new desirable behavior to become automatic, so his body and mind will do it without thinking about it, to keep the eye constantly straight.

Vision therapy can be used to retrain eye-turns, focusing problems, inefficient tracking, and many other undesirable eye behaviors. Untreated, these behaviors can cause amblyopia, eye strain, and poor school and athletic performance.

Learning disabilities

Learning disabilities may affect a child’s ability to listen, speak, read, spell, write, solve math problems, or organize information. Learning difficulties may be associated with other disorders, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The most common learning disability is dyslexia, a reading disability. There seems to be a genetic basis, so dyslexia often affects several family members. Children with dyslexia have difficulty decoding and recognizing words and have reading comprehension deficits. Children with dyslexia often lose their place while reading as they pause to decode a word. Vision problems, as identified by Amarillo optometrists, can interfere with reading. However, dyslexia and learning disabilities may be present in children with no vision or ocular health problems. Remedial reading programs for dyslexia are focused on decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension. Children who start out as poor readers rarely catch up without a remedial reading program.

A recent trend in treating dyslexia is the use of colored filter overlays for reading. In 1983, Irlen proposed this treatment regimen to treat scotopic sensitivity syndrome, now also known as Irlen syndrome. Though many people report improvement in reading ability using Irlen filters, no scientific study has been performed. It is thought by many that Irlen filters are more of a placebo effect than an actual treatment. It is possible that filters improve print clarity, but ultimately the underlying reading problem will still be there and require a remedial reading program to treat it.

What can parents do to help their child be a successful student? Parents should read aloud to young children as soon as they will sit and listen! Reading aloud helps develop language skills. Children should have an eye exam performed by an Amarillo optometrist early in life, preferably before they are 2 years old. At this first eye exam, an optometrist will identify any health or vision concerns that could interfere with reading. Children should then have routine annual eye exams performed by an optometrist in Amarillo once they begin kindergarten. Children should see their pediatrician regularly, as their doctor suggests. Pediatricians perform developmental assessments and can make referrals early on for developmental delays. Elementary school children with learning difficulties need to be identified and placed into remediation programs. It takes a team that includes educators, optometrists, pediatricians, psychologists, and other professionals to assure that children do not fall behind in school due to vision or learning disorders.

The optometrists at St. Luke Eye Institute in Amarillo, Texas are highly skilled in identifying eye problems. Our optometrists can also prescribe glasses to adults and children who need them. We are the leading eye care and eyewear specialists in Amarillo, Texas and the surrounding Texas Panhandle. The optometrists of St. Luke Eye Institute have always emphasized the importance of using the latest technology and research to provide the highest quality eye care for patients. Call us today at (806) 359-3937 to set an appointment with one of our Amarillo optometrists. Visit our office located at 5311 Southwest 9th Avenue in Amarillo, Texas. You can also Contact Us via email to ask a question or request additional information. Don’t wait to start receiving the best eye care possible for your entire family!


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