To understand how vision and learning are related, it’s necessary to know the difference between eyesight and vision. Eyesight and vision are two very distinct things.
Eyesight is the ability to see letters clearly on a chart at a distance of 20 feet. A common misconception is that 20/20 eyesight means you have perfect vision.
Many of the observable traits that a child with ADD/ADHD and Dyslexia display are also seen in children with learning-related vision problems. A learning-related vision disorder is a functional visual problem that interferes with a child’s ability to effectively process and interpret information seen through the eyes.
This may directly affect how one learns, reads, or is capable of sustaining attention on their work. The visual skills necessary for learning go far beyond just the ability to see clearly.
1 in 5 children in the classroom have a vision problem that affects their ability to read and learn.
Vision is More Than Seeing
However, 20/20 eyesight is not enough. Vision is more than seeing clearly; it’s the ability to obtain meaning and understanding from what we see with our eyes. Vision is a complex combination of learned skills, including eye movement coordination, binocular fusion (eye teaming), accommodation (focus) and visualization.When visual skills are well developed, a person can sustain attention, read and write without careless errors, give meaning to what they see and rely less on movement to stay alert. When there is a vision problem, the visual system interferes and causes a mismatch between sensory information.
The visual system then has difficulty integrating and communicating with other sensory systems resulting in a loss of information processing.
Vision is learned, just as walking and talking are learned. A baby starts with the ability to receive light, but he/she must learn to interpret the incoming light into meaningful images. He must be able to: use both eyes together and point them in different directions (eye teaming); learn to follow a moving object with his eyes (eye tracking); learn to focus from near to far; and learn to coordinate his hands with eyes.
All these skills are necessary for optimal performance in school.
If a vision problem is present, vision therapy can be recommended to address the problem. There are many instances where a child is diagnosed with ADHD or Dyslexia and following a program of Vision Therapy, the diagnosis is removed. In those cases, the learning-related vision disorder was interfering with school performance.