Building a Foundation for Better Vision
May 01, 2011 08:49PM
● By Beth Davis
Experts say that roughly 80 percent of what a child learns in school is information that is presented visually. So good vision is essential for students of all ages to reach their full academic potential. When students have difficulty in school, many parents and teachers believe the child has vision problems. And though that may be the case, Dr. Mary VanHoy of Eyes for Wellness in Indianapolis, says less obvious vision problems related to the way the eyes function may be what is limiting a child’s ability to learn.
She says people are often surprised that vision can play such a significant role in learning-related problems such as ADD and ADHD, dyslexia, reading and tracking problems. For parents with a child that may be struggling, VanHoy notes a few key signs that there may be a problem: If the child is intelligent but not performing; if the child likes being read to, but listening to the child read is painful; or if homework takes three hours instead of 45 minutes.
Dr. Mary VanHoy
VanHoy, whose focus is on the patient as a whole person, provides treatment for these learning-related vision problems (as well as many others) in both children and adults with much success. She explains that some visual conditions cannot be treated adequately with just glasses or contact lenses, and are best resolved through a program of vision therapy.
Vision therapy is an individualized, supervised, treatment program designed to correct visual-motor and/or perceptual-cognitive deficiencies. Vision therapy sessions include procedures designed to enhance the brain’s ability to control eye alignment, eye tracking and eye teaming, eye focusing abilities, eye movements and visual processing. When visual problems are corrected, individuals find they can finally concentrate on comprehension and learning rather than wasting tremendous amounts of energy just trying to see.
To avoid problems, VanHoy says that an optometrist should see every child by his or her first birthday. The second visit should take place by the time the child is three to determine if they can focus, track, how they climb and play, etc. “Parents need to understand that it’s more than just a letter chart. It’s how the child walks in the room, how they balance, sit, draw pictures and do puzzles.”
For infants, crawling, motor activities and even tummy time is important for vision. For toddlers and above, sitting in front of the television or computer screen for more than 20 minutes at a time can distort the visual system.
Starting early and building the foundation for good vision can set the stage for better learning down the road.