karen-chaoTo provide better understanding of Learning Problems we often tap into the knowledge of professionals.  Here is an article that we think will be of interest to you written by our Developmental Optomotrist Dr. Karen Chao.  Enjoy the article.


Inadequate Vision Screenings Contributing to Epidemic of Children with Learning Problems

by Karen Chao 

 Only two years after the Nation’s Report Card showed that only 38% of students could read at or above the level of “proficient”, our nation’s children continue to struggle with reading at epidemic levels.  Even in schools where vision screenings were put in place, reading performance remained below average. This is because typical vision screenings, including those performed at the pediatrician’s office, only test “20/20” visual acuity on an eye chart. Eye coordination and eye focusing skills are usually never screened. It is these areas of vision function that are critical to reading and learning.

Optometric research continues to show that more than 10 million children struggle with reading and learning because of eye coordination and eye focusing disorders. Research also clearly indicates that these vision disorders are very treatable with optometric vision therapy.  In her new book, “Red Flags for Elementary School Teachers”, Katie Johnson, a teacher for over 35 years, discusses the huge need for teachers and other school professionals from all areas, to better understand the need for identifying eye coordination and focusing disorders in children.  Ms. Johnson was amazed at the answers she heard when she asked her struggling readers, “What do the words do when you are trying to read?”  “I remember one girl who said, ‘I start on the side of the page and then the words start moving, when I get to middle where the staple is and the book is bending, the words fall in there and I can’t read.’  I would never have known this was happening if I didn’t ask her.”

 The most important thing for parents to know is that children rarely complain. The way they tell us that there is a problem is with their behavior.  Therefore you need to know the various behavioral signs that signal a vision problem; for example, does your child:

  • avoid reading?
  • prefer to be read to?
  • turn his or her head at an angle when reading?
  • have more trouble comprehending what is read the longer he or she reads?
  • have trouble seeing 3D effects in movies or video games?

If your child continues to struggle with reading, it’s time to see an optometrist who provides an in-office program of optometric vision therapy. Doctors who are members of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) provide specialized testing to evaluate all of the visual skills required for academic success. For a more in-depth checklist or to find a doctor, visit:  covd.org.