It seems like all you hear about these days is the many learning disabilities that kids are beset by, from ADD and ADHD to dyslexia and dysgraphia. Some people have even begun to suspect that doctors are over-diagnosing these problems and treating them with medications rather than getting to the underlying issues that may be causing them. But while there are probably a number of kids that genuinely suffer from these types of learning disorders, there may be a larger issue behind your child’s seeming inability to learn at grade level. It could be that he has a vision problem that is preventing him from taking in all the information he needs.
It’s common knowledge that approximately 80% of the material your child will be presented with in the classroom setting will be in a visual medium. So it’s no wonder that kids with any type of vision impairment are falling behind. It is important to distinguish that vision problems are not technically related to learning disabilities. And while it is possible for your child to suffer from both, one does not cause the other. That said, it can be difficult to obtain the proper diagnosis.
For example, you might be prone to the assumption that a child who is not paying attention in class or who is acting out is suffering from ADD or ADHD. It could simply be that the child is bored or frustrated because he cannot see what’s happening at the front of the class. Or perhaps he can’t visually focus on the reading materials he’s supposed to be attending to. And if your child seems to be falling behind in all subjects (rather than just reading or math, for example) there is a good chance that the culprit behind his learning difficulties could be visual. So even if you think you have the problem pegged, take the time to check your child’s vision as a precaution (especially since it could stop you from dosing him with a medication he doesn’t need).
So what are some vision problems that could be causing your child to fall behind? Hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), and astigmatism are among the most common vision problems in children, although disorders like amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (misalignment), and even cataracts are possible (along with other visual ailments). All can be detrimental to your child’s learning and most can cause permanent damage if left untreated. Luckily, many vision problems are treatable and even reversible if discovered early. Glasses, contacts, bifocal contact lensesor glasses, eye coverings, and even surgical procedures may be necessary, but considering that the alternative is a lifetime of vision problems, there’s not much choice.
The unfortunate truth is that learning-related vision problems can go undiagnosed if parents don’t insist on regular vision testing. But by taking the time to schedule these necessary tests even when a different diagnosis has already been determined, you could save your child’s vision from irreparable damage. From there you can quickly move on to treatment options. Understanding bifocal contacts, surgical procedures, and other options will help you to determine which course of action is best suited to your child, and this could not only correct his vision, but also his learning problems.
Author: Sarah Danielson is a freelance writer and part time student. In her spare time she likes to go hiking and help with an animal rescue out of Los Angeles, California.