Poor Grades Explained by Vision Problems: College of Optometrists in Vision Development offers hope to parents of struggling readers
When school resumes in August, educators, parents, and students will strive to improve reading levels. According to the Common Core Curriculum, “Students will be challenged and asked questions that push them to refer back to what they’ve read.” Yet, according to Ida Chung, OD, FCOVD, and President of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), “students who have eye coordination and eye movement problems struggle to read and have trouble remembering what they read which will make this task nearly impossible. That’s why we observe August as International Children’s Vision and Learning Month, to help educate the public on this vital issue.”
Getting to the root of a child’s reading struggles can be difficult. Parents typically see multiple experts often starting with the basics, which includes an eye exam. It makes it tough for parents when they suspect that their child has a vision problem yet the experts say nothing is wrong.
For example, Jeremy Doernemann was a good student and got good grades; his problem was he couldn’t get anything done in school. His mother, Donna, explains, “First and Second grade were not as bad as Third and Fourth Grade. That is when he really struggled. I dreaded coming home from work, because I knew the 'Homework Hell' would begin… I asked the Pediatric Ophthalmologist several times if Jeremy’s struggles at school were related to his eye problems. He said ‘absolutely not.’ He said it had nothing to do with his ability to learn and concentrate. I didn’t agree with him but I did not know what to do and who to turn to.”
Jill Anderson ran into a similar situation. Her daughter Morgan avoided reading and struggled with reading comprehension. In an effort to find out why her daughter struggled, Mrs. Anderson states, “I took Jill to a general eye doctor who told us her vision was fine and she didn’t need any help.”
Fortunately for both Jeremy and Morgan, their parents found out about optometric vision therapy and now they no longer struggle with reading and schoolwork.
Mrs. Doernemann shares, “Vision Therapy changed my son’s life. There are no more tears! Jeremy is able to work faster on homework with better concentration. I no longer hear him say, ‘I CAN’T DO IT!’”
Nine months of tutoring at a prominent learning center and Morgan had no major improvements. After doing optometric vision therapy, her mother proudly states, “Reading is much easier for her. Morgan’s grades have improved and her confidence has greatly improved.”
Taben Randall was one year behind in math and writing. Taben was very fortunate that the school nurse actually discovered that his right eye did not track smoothly. His teacher had heard of vision therapy and provided some contacts for his parents to pursue.
Taben’s father, Timothy Randall, is pleased to report that testing, on the Woodcock Johnson III test, before and after vision therapy shows that over the course of only 18 months, “Reading gained 4 grade equivalents, Math gained 3 grade equivalents, and Writing gained 3 grade equivalents."
“It is our hope that this year’s observance of International Children’s Vision and Learning month brings greater awareness of the visual link to reading and learning. A lot of children and their families are struggling unnecessarily,” states Dr. Chung; “When a vision problem is at the root of a child’s difficulties with reading, optometric vision therapy can make all the difference.”
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.