Childhood Reading Struggles: The Answer may be in the Eyes. COVD Supports International Children’s Vision and Learning Month
When a child struggles with reading, parents and teachers often think that a vision problem might be at the root of the child’s problems. A trip to the school nurse or the pediatrician will often assure them that their child can see just fine or “20/20,” and a vision issue is incorrectly ruled out. In some cases parents will even take their child to an eye doctor and be told everything is fine, despite the fact that their child has an eye coordination or eye movement disorder.
“The majority of vision screenings and even eye exams are not designed to test for vision problems that interfere with academic success. It takes specialized testing to identify the majority of vision problems that interfere with reading and learning,” explains Dr. Ida Chung, President of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), “It is important to see the right eye care professional.”
Michelle Lovely, 26-year-old hospice social worker, could not agree more as she reflects back on what her early education was like after having undergone two eye surgeries for strabismus (an eye turn); one surgery was at 18 months of age and the second at age 6. “I had always struggled with reading,” Ms. Lovely shares; “I was in a resource class for Language Arts in third thru fifth grade because they felt like I needed the extra attention since I was a slow reader. “The pediatric ophthalmologist told my parents that my vision was pretty good, it was stable, and I didn't require glasses until later in life; so my parents just thought I was a ‘late bloomer’ in reading.”
Ms. Lovely had a total of 5 surgeries in an attempt to correct her strabismus before graduating high school. She explains, “Looking back I think the surgeries hurt me more than helped me. When reading small font or long passages I would lose my spot easily. Despite my difficulties with reading, I had fairly good grades otherwise, mostly As and Bs (never failing a class even in college and graduate school). Since starting optometric vision therapy my vision and ability to read long passages has improved.”
Dr. Chung’s message for this August is International Children’s Vision and Learning Month, “Seeing 20/20 is just the beginning, there are 17 different visual skills required for academic success. If your child continues to struggle with reading, you need to see a developmental optometrist.” To find a doctor near you, visit the COVD website.
The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) is an international, non-profit optometric membership organization that provides education, evaluation, and board certification programs in behavioral and developmental vision care, vision therapy, and visual rehabilitation. The organization is comprised of doctors of optometry, vision therapists and other vision specialists. For more information on learning-related vision problems, vision therapy and COVD, please visit http://www.covd.org/ or call 330.995.0718.
A series of public service announcements (PSAs) are available at covd.org to help raise awareness that vision problems can not only interfere with learning, but sports performance, and other activities of daily living. These PSAs also address vision problems that impact individuals who have autism spectrum disorders or those who have suffered a head injury.