Vision and Learning
Up to 80% of learning is processed through the Visual System
Before your child starts reading and begin primary/elementary school, these visual skills need to be ready. If any of these skills are weak, it will impede learning to their potential.
Eye Sight — a learner needs to see clearly for distance (eg. board), intermediate distance (eg. Laptop/PC) and up close for reading a book. When a child has blur eyesight from myopia and astigmatism, it will be difficult to see what the teacher is writing from far. Standard eyesight test only tests for distance eyesight but children with significant hyperopia may still see far clearly but have uncomfortable or blur near vision.
Eye Tracking — a learner's ability keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another and move the eyes along a printed page, or following a moving object like a thrown ball. Unlike handwriting, it is harder to tell if a learner has poor eye movement skills. Common symptoms are like skipping words/lines during reading and copying.
Eye Teaming - ability to coordinate both eyes together on a precise point/object such as a word during reading. This skill allows the visual system to judge distances and see depth. Weakness in this ability usually causes eyestrain and double vision for more severe cases.
Eye Focusing - visual motor skill that allows rapid and accurate shifts with instantaneous clarity from one distance to another, such as from desk to board. This flexible change in optical power is caused by the change in the form of the elastic lens which is facilitated by the ciliary muscles. It also permits a person to maintain clear focus at the normal reading distance. Symptoms of a focusing problem may include blurred vision while reading to clear vision at distance after reading, and fatigue or headaches while reading.
Visual Discrimination - ability to determine the slight visual differences between similar visual object. It's an important skill for learners to develop because they must be able to discern between letters/numbers so that they can begin to learn to read.
Figure-Ground - ability to differentiate an object from its background. Learners who struggle with this skill often have difficulties scanning the passage to find the information that is required or has a difficult time scanning the board to find the word they wish to copy.
Letter Reversals - ability to recognize spatial difference between letters that are symbolically the same such as “b,” “d,” “p” “q”. When a child exhibits frequent letter reversals, it meant confusion within the visual system in determining the letter, causing weakness in tasks such as reading and spelling.
Spatial Awareness - ability to tell us our position relative to objects around us, and the relative position of objects to each other. Weakness with spatial awareness are usually observed when a learner has difficulties in performing mental rotations of objects in math or writing a chinese character.
Visual Memory - ability to coordinate both eyes together on a precise point/object such as a word during reading. This skill allows the visual system to judge distances and see depth. Weakness in this ability usually causes eyestrain and double vision for more severe cases.
Eye-hand coordination - is an important visual perceptual-motor skill children develop during the early years. Our visual system directs our hands to perform fine movement in handwriting, cutting, tying shoelaces, catching a ball etc. Weakness with eye-hand coordination leads to messy handwriting, difficulties with catching a ball, and typing.
Weakness with there vision and visual skills are also commonly referred to as Visual Processing Disorders can lead to poor attention, difficulty learning and a tendency to make careless mistakes. If a student has a weak visual processing ability, this can lead to difficulties with reading, spelling, writing, and/or math, or just a more difficult time understanding what has been taught in school.
Reading may be an effortful and laborious process for individuals with Visual Stress as the black text on the white background causes a hypersensitivity reaction in the visual cortex, leading to headaches and eye strain after reading, text appearing to move or fade away on the ends, squinting and an avoidance to read.
Did you know that the visual system processes up to 80% of learning? That's why it's essential to assess your child's visual skills to determine if they are learning effectively. A Learning Related Vision Screening (30min) or a Full Functional Vision Assessment (80min) can provide valuable insights into your child's learning process by identifying any visual skill weaknesses and addressing these weakness to help your child reach their full potential.
My child has been through a thorough medical eye checkup and her eyes are healthy. Does that mean she will not have these weak visual motor skills?
A detailed eyecheck usually include clinical examinations done by an ophthalmologist to detect pathological eye conditions in the structures of the eye such as the conjunctiva, lids, cornea, intraocular lens, retina and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding vision and learning:
While checking for the eyesight is part of the screening/assessment, we also check for the eye tracking’s accuracy and speed, eye teaming and eye focusing. Weakness with any of these visual skills can cause learning to be inefficient. A child may not require glasses but can have poor eye tracking, eye teaming and eye focusing skills.
Our screening/assessments may differ from the tests done to assess the structure of the eyes, or to look for pathology or diseases in the eye. Our tests are geared to understanding the visual performance of an individual.
A recent systemic analysis in 2022 concluded that there was evidence for an association between ADHD and reduced color discrimination and contrast sensitivity, atypical accommodative response (eye focusing issues) and convergence (eye teaming issues), astigmatism, hyperopia, hypermetropia, and strabismus (squint). It is necessary to perform assessments beyond the standard eyesight tests to understand the visual performance of a child with ADHD.