By Lauren Grillot, OD, MS – Troy, Ohio
If you knew your child was smart but was struggling in school wouldn’t you want to know why and “fix” it?
Many people don’t realize that vision is much more than 20/20 and healthy eyes. Vision is a complex process that involves over 20 visual abilities and more than 65% of all the pathways to the brain. One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem which can interfere with learning and lead to academic and/or behavioral problems. However, it is important to know that these children frequently do not report symptoms because they think everyone sees the same way they do.
Often a child with a vision-based learning problem has excellent verbal skills, causing parents and educators to think the child must be lazy, have ADD/ADHD, or is learning disabled. The possible misdiagnosis can be due to similar symptoms, but the causes are not the same.
Vision problems may be just a piece of the puzzle or the whole piece, but they should not be ignored.
You, as an optometrist, are in the perfect position to help identify those children who are struggling to achieve as the result of a vision related learning problem. You can start by asking 3 basic questions: 1. is your child working up to his/her potential? 2. do they like to read? 3. do they experience double vision, tired eyes, blurred vision or headaches when doing near work?
If the answer is “no” to #1 or #2 or “yes” to #3 then either refer the child to someone who works w/ visual problems that interfere w/ learning or treat the child yourself. You can be a HERO by helping to identify these children. The benefit of treatment lasts forever and can be life changing!