Poor Vision: A Barrier to Learning

A lot has changed over the years regarding the tools students use to learn; blackboards were replaced with whiteboards, which were then replaced by SMART Boards. Big Chief tablets changed to laptop computers. And coloring sheets changed to iPads. One tool used in the classroom that hasn't changed are children's eyes, and undiagnosed vision problems can cause some students to struggle in school. Students with poor vision may fail to keep up with the rest of the class and might not understand why.

"With more than 80% of learning a result of visual processing, most of us are 'visual learners,'" said Colby Optometrist Dr. Sam Funk. "Kids sometimes don't realize that they can't see as well as others because they assume everyone sees the same way they do."

Parents and guardians, teachers, school nurses and others who works with children are encouraged to keep a watchful eye out for the possible warning signs of a vision problem; these are often very subtle. Children with vision problems may get overly close to a book when reading, cover one eye or avoid close work altogether. They may squint their eyes or tilt their head in an attempt to compensate for poor vision. Students with poor vision are more prone to get headaches and have difficulty remembering, identifying and reproducing basic geometric forms.

Annual eye exams are especially important for students to make sure vision problems don't become a barrier to learning.

"A comprehensive eye and visual health exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist is about more than just checking if you have 20/20 vision," said Dr. Funk. "School screenings are a valuable service to identify students who may not be able to read the board, but they don't typically look at eye health and visual processing skills. Set your child up for success by scheduling a comprehensive eye exam so vision problems don't affect your child's ability to learn." 

September 4, 2019