Vision Training

 

What vision training can offer those with learning difficulties

Vision training can be an important part of the overall treatment of a child’s learning problem. Vision and sensorimotor deficits can cause eyestrain, headaches, blurred or double vision, loss of place while reading, and difficulty maintaining attention on close work. Even intelligent, highly motivated children can be severely handicapped by these problems in the academic environment. Correcting these deficits allows affected children to benefit from academic remediation and to achieve their full potential in the classroom.

Dr Corinne Smith, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Education at Syracuse University, noted in her 1997 text on Learning Disabilities, that students with visual perception disabilities have trouble making sense out of what they see:

“The problem is not with their eyesight, but with the way their brains process visual information.”

Vision training can improve visual function so the patient/student is better equipped to benefit from educational instruction. In 1991, Dr Firmon Hardenbergh, the Chief of Ophthalmology at Harvard University Health Services, had this to say regarding a double-blind scientific study of children with reading disability and convergence (attention to near tasks) difficulty:

“The application of orthoptics [included in vision training] to all learning/reading disabled or deficient children who manifest convergence insufficiency should be the first line of therapy.”

Often children have been told that their eyes are healthy and that glasses aren’t necessary, but they continue to struggle with visual processing. Their visual processing problems or developmental vision problems can’t be detected unless the optometrist specifically tests for them.

Optometrists do not claim that vision training is a direct treatment for learning disabilities, such as Learning Disability, Dyslexia or Attention Deficit Disorder. Vision training is directed toward resolving visual problems that interfere with educational instruction. The statement on vision training and learning disabilities  by the American Optometric Association and the American Academy of Optometry makes it clear that a multidisciplinary approach to learning disabilities is recommended, and that vision is but one aspect of the overall picture.

“Because reading problems usually have multiple causes, treatment must often be multidisciplinary. Educators, psychologists, eye care practitioners and other professionals often must work together to meet each person’s needs. The eye practitioner’s role is to help overcome any vision problems interfering with the ability to read. Once those are addressed the student is better prepared to respond to special reading education efforts.” (www.cibavision.com, 1999)

More information

See also our page on visual perceptual skills.