A large part of learning is done visually. Reading, spelling, writing, chalkboard work and, in many schools, computers, are among the tasks students tackle all day long, day after day. Each involves the visual abilities of seeing quickly and understanding visual information frequently less than arm’s length from the eyes. Many students’ visual abilities just aren’t up to the level of the demands of these types of learning situations in the classroom.
Clear eyesight isn’t all that’s required for these close vision tasks. Youngsters must have a variety of scanning, focusing and visual coordination skills for learning and for getting meaning from reading. If these visual skills have not been developed, or are poorly developed, learning is difficult and stressful, and youngsters typically react in one or a combination of ways:
They avoid near visual work entirely, or as much as possible.
They attempt to do the work anyway, but with lowered understanding.
They often experience discomfort, fatigue and short attention span.
They adapt by becoming nearsighted, or by suppressing the vision of one eye.
Visual stress reactions can help explain the discomfort, fatigue, changes in behavior, altered eyesight and declining academic performance that often indicate a learning-related vision problem. (Vision problems do not “cause” learning disabilities. However, poor visual skills, by interfering with the process, can impede remedial efforts. It’s like trying to build a house on sand. Good vision skills, on the other hand, can provide a solid foundation for learning.)