How Trouble With Vision Translates To Trouble In School

By Dr. Alan Glazier

Pediatrician and school screenings are supposed to identify children who may have difficulty seeing.  Children are typically screened for distance vision issues, amblyopia (trouble seeing in one eye, also known as lazy eye), strabismus (eyes operating independently of one another or are turned or crossed) and depth perception.  For children with these problems, glasses can be prescribed or appropriate medical intervention recommended  and difficulties reversed or averted.   By not providing more thorough screenings or recommending eye examinations by a licensed eye doctor, an large segment of the population with vision related learning difficulties goes undiagnosed and continues to encounter challenges in the academic enviroment.  These children may be farsighted or they may have issues related to strabismus that are more subtle and difficult to diagnose, known as binocular vision disorders.

Children who are farsighted (hyperopic) can generally see well at distance and near, while their classmates who are nearsighted or have astigmatism may struggle seeing across the classroom.  A subset of farsighted children are so farsighted that they experience problems that range from eyestrain when attempting to sustain vieiwng print at near (homework) to total avoidance of nearpoint tasks, but they see fine across the classroom.   Typical pediatrician and school screenings check  only for nearsightedness and astigmatism.  When they identify a farsighted child, they often pass them and don’t make any effort to determine the level of farsightedness.  As such, children who are farsighted enough to strain at near but apparently see well in the screenings often go under the wire, and their poor grades or trouble in the academic environment caused by eyestrain or trouble reading are attributed to attention disorders, lower intelligence or other factors.

Another subset of eye disorders, called binocular vision disorders are underdiagnosed.  In order for a child to sustain near vision when studying or reading, their eyes need to be able to comfortably turn inwards toward the print they are reading.  If the eye muscles they use to achieve this are weak, or don’t receive enough innervation from the nerves that stimulate eye turn inwards, the child may encounter eyestrain or trouble viewing near tasks for extended periods of time.

Courtesy of the doctors at Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care; Optometrists, Ophthalmologists and Opticians serving the Rockville, Potomac and Gaithersburg Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC for over 40 years.  For information on our practice visit or call (301) 670-1212 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (301) 670-1212      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or connect with us on twitter @EyeInfo.


3 Responses

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