Does Your School Age Child Have Reading Problems?
A large part of learning, up to 90% is done visually - reading, chalkboard work, and computer use are among the tasks students tackle all day long, day after day. Each involves the visual abilities of seeing clearly and understanding visual information - usually at less than an arm's length from the eyes. Such near vision work demands very different skills from the distance vision tested by the 20/20 chart.
Near vision requires that your eyes work as a team - this skill is called binocular vision. The eyes must converge -- aiming together to combine the images from each eye into one, accommodate - curving the lens to bring images into clear focus, and fixate - moving the eyes across a page fluidly and then jumping to the next line. Learning can be impaired if eye movements are slow or clumsy, if the eyes jump, "stutter" or lose their place when reading a book or from a computer screen. If your child does not have adequate near vision skills, asthenopia or eyestrain symptoms may occur. It's not a seeing problem, so glasses alone won't fix it. It's an eye muscle problem. If good visual skills have not been developed, learning is difficult and stressful. Children may react in one or more ways, including:
- avoiding reading and other near visual work as much as possible
- attempting to do the work but with decreased understanding
- being an "underachiever"
- having a short attention span
- getting fatigued easily
While vision problems do not "cause" learning disabilities, poor near vision skills can impede remedial efforts used by educators and tutoring, interfering with the learning process. Vision therapy has been proven to be an effective tool in helping people with vision-related learning problems.
Just as many of us don't have good 20/20 distance vision, many of us also have problems with the skills required to sustain near vision tasks. Since it is impossible for parents to teach children how to use their eyes for reading, how can you find out if they are using their eyes properly and what do you do when your child has a problem?
McCabe Vision Center has a special interest in helping these children achieve maximum potential and has had special training to resolve these eye tracking problems. Children with eye tracking problems experience more difficulty and frustration, because of trying to compensate when reading or using a computer. This additional eyestrain will make it harder for them to learn. If an examination finds an eye tracking problem, a computerized testing program will be used to diagnose exactly what kind of problem exists. Tracking problems cannot be fixed with glasses and a more sophisticated technology is required. If therapy is needed, McCabe Vision Center prescribes a home based computer program to remedy the problem(s). This program will be custom configured for your child. They have achieved results in as little as 10 weeks by doing therapy 30 minutes a day for 5 days per week. The custom based computer program will automatically discontinue therapy for mastered tasks, while remaining therapies become increasingly more difficult. The therapy program is much like a video game and children do not view it as a 'school task'. Many of these children show exceptional gains that are retained for years. When your child develops good visual skills through vision therapy, it's like learning to ride a bike. Your eyes never forget and the skills are retained.
Eye teaming as well as good vision is an essential part of learning. Making sure your child has all the advantages necessary to compete in today's information age world is paramount to success. Any child exhibiting poor visual skills needs to have a thorough examination. McCabe Vision Center is the resource for total vision care for your child.
To find out if your child's reading difficulties are caused by eye tracking problems, visit McCabe Vision Center at 122 Heritage Park Drive, Suite 100, in Murfreesboro.