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How does vision (and lack of vision) affect learning in children?

by | Aug 11, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

Since up to 80 percent of everything a child learns is derived through the visual pathways, if there is any interference in those pathways, a child may not develop to their maximum potential.

Children who suffer from visual impairment due to conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, etc., are often unable to see clearly enough to learn effectively.

A study conducted by researchers at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) found that children with low vision had lower academic performance than their peers without similar issues. In addition, children with low vision were less likely to graduate high school and enroll in college.

When needed, early intervention can help improve a children’s vision, resulting in improved learning outcomes.

Below are 4 ways that vision issues can affect learning in children.

1. Visual acuity

Visual acuity is measured in degrees of visual angle, or how much space something occupies on the retina. This measurement is expressed in logarithmic units, such as 20/20 vision.

A person with normal vision sees things within 20 feet as being visible up to 20 feet away. If you wear glasses, your prescription determines what degree of visual angle your eyes will receive.

An eye examination provides an accurate measure of visual acuity.

During the exam, doctors use a special instrument called a retinoscope to examine the patient’s eyes. They look for signs of cataracts, glaucoma, refractive errors, macular degeneration, and other conditions that affect the quality of vision.

2. Eye tracking and teaming

Eye tracking refers to the act where you are looking at one thing with both eyes at once. This type of behavior is called “tearing”.

Tearing is normal and harmless. However, it can become problematic if it occurs too often. In some cases, tearing can cause damage to the cornea, which could lead to blindness.

Exophoria is a common childhood disorder. Children experience exophoria when they look at objects with both eyes at once, rather than just one. For example, when a child looks at a book while reading, he/she might turn his head to the side to see what is written on the opposite page. This is known as exophoric gaze palsy. If left untreated, exophoria can lead to double vision, headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, and even loss of vision.

3. Convergence

Children are born with 20/20 vision – meaning that they see things clearly without needing glasses.

But around age 5, most kids start losing some of their sight.

By adulthood, about half of us have some degree of nearsightedness.

We call this “presbyopia.”

The eye is a complex organ, and there are several parts involved in vision. One of those parts is called the crystalline lens. In young adults, the lens gets stiffer over time, making it harder to change focus. As we grow older, our lenses become less flexible, causing blurriness.

As we get older, our bodies begin to produce natural tears that help keep the surface of the eye moist and lubricated. These tears contain proteins that help maintain the health of the cornea and lens, and they’re essential for maintaining clear vision. However, as we age, our tear production slows down, and we don’t make enough of the protein needed to keep the surface of the eyes healthy.

This causes dry eyes, which leads to discomfort and irritation. Dry eyes can lead to blurry vision, headaches, and even damage to the cornea.

4. Esophoria

Esophoria is a condition that causes people to focus on themselves rather than others. While it sounds like something you’d see in a movie, it actually happens in real life. In fact, it’s one of the most common conditions affecting young children.

A child who suffers from esphoria will often seek out things to hide behind. They might even choose to wear sunglasses indoors because they’re afraid of being seen. This behavior usually begins around age three or four and continues into adulthood.

Vision therapists are trained to treat esophoria. They use vision exercises to teach children how to pay attention to what’s happening around them.

Image courtesy of https://evansandpiggotteyecare.com/four-ways-poor-vision-can-affect-learning-children/

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