Reading and Vision
Oct 16 2015

Reading and Vision

When a child has trouble reading, there could be many possible causes.  One of those causes that may be overlooked is their vision. Children typically do not complain about seeing.  They assume that what they see is what they are supposed to see.  They may even pass a school vision screening.  But vision is one area that should be investigated when reading becomes a problem.

Reading requires the integration of different vision skills: visual acuity, visual fixation, accommodation, binocular fusion, convergence, field of vision and form perception.  Only one of these is tested by the typical school screening.  All of these listed are areas of expertise of Drs. Hansen, Pietig, and Young.  You, as a parent, do not need to be versed in these.  You can rely on Ankeny Family Vision Center and their comprehensive, individualized examination of your child to help determine the area or areas that need to be addressed for your particular child.

Visual acuity is the ability to see objects clearly.  This is the only skill assessed in the school screening.  It is designed to be seen at 20 feet and measures how well or poorly the child sees at that distance.

Accommodation is the ability to adjust the focus of the eyes as the distance between the child and the object changes.  Children use this skill as they shift from their book to the whiteboard or screen.  Being able to focus at near is important for reading.  

Binocular fusion refers to the brain's ability to gather information received from each eye separately and form a single image.  If a child's eyes are not aligned, blurred or double vision could result.  The brain then often suppresses the vision in one eye to avoid confusion.

Convergence is the ability to turn the two eyes toward each other to look at a close object.  Deskwork would be an area in which this skill is used.  

Field of vision is the wide area over which vision is possible.  A child needs to be aware of what is going on around him as well as in the center of his or her field of vision.  This is very important for reading.  

Perception is the total process responsible for the reception and understanding of what is seen.  This is vital for success in school.  Form perception is the ability to organize and recognize visual images as specific shapes.

Drs. Hansen, Pietig and Young examine all these visual skills in a comprehensive examination and can determine how well your child is using them together.  This data is then used to diagnose and treat the problem.

Reading problems often have multiple causes and treatment may need to be multidisciplinary.  Educators, parents, our doctors, and other professionals may work together to meet your child's needs.  

Ankeny Family Vision Center's role is to help your child overcome the visual problems interfering with the ability to read.  If you sense your child may be having trouble reading, start with scheduling a comprehensive exam with either Dr. Hansen, Dr. Pietig, or Dr. Young.  They will help you determine the role we can play in solving your child's problem.

(This information taken from an article on the American Optometric Association website.)

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