Discovering Vision Therapy Blog

My Child's Learning Problems are caused by WHAT? (Part 1)

Posted by Greg Mischio on April 18, 2011

Learning problems are related to vision issues.

In this three part series, we’ll look at the telltale symptoms of a surprising cause of learning problems:  vision issues.  This post focuses on behavior-related symptoms of a vision problem.

Every day, we meet parents who are frustrated by their children’s learning problems.  And every day, we see the parents’ surprised reactions when they discover that it’s a vision issue that’s causing their child to struggle in school.

It really shouldn’t be a surprise:  According to the American Optometric Association, one in four children has a vision problem that affects their ability to learn.  Yet sometimes identifying those vision problems can be difficult – especially when the symptoms are related to behavior. 

Behavior-Related Symptoms of a Vision Problem

All kids tend to exhibit some pretty unusual behaviors as they’re growing up.  But as a parent, you can sense when your child is exhibiting behaviors that are very distinctive from what you’d expect from a typical kid.  You know that something is wrong with your child, but you just can’t put your finger on the problem. 

You’re about to read a litany of behavior-related symptoms that are indicative of a vision problem. Many of these symptoms may appear similar to ADD/ADHD.   Your child may indeed have ADD/ADHD, or they may have a vision problem.  Or both.  Or neither! 

Whatever the case may be, we recommend ruling out vision problems first, as these issues are quantifiable and, most importantly, treatable. 

Here are some of the noteworthy behavior-related symptoms:

•Short attention span.  In today’s media-saturated world, it’s not uncommon for a child to have a short attention span.  But if you notice that your child can’t read or watch a movie for an extended period of time, the reason may be that he or she is feeling uncomfortable from eye-strain or other visually-induced pain.

•Nervous, irritable, or quickly fatigued while reading, looking at books, or doing close work.  If you notice your child rubbing his or her eyes, especially when doing close-work, it could be a sign of vision problems.

•Displays signs of emotional or developmental immaturity.  This is a tough one, as many children exhibit this trait.  However, it is common to see this type of behavior in a child with vision problems because they become frustrated when they are unable to do the same things their peers can do. They may also exhibit increasing anxiety as they struggle more and more.

•Experiences blurry or double vision.  If your child has problems catching a ball, or can’t see something clearly, it may be more than visual acuity.  He or she may be suffering from something like a convergence insufficiency, in which the eyes can’t focus together on a specific point or accommodative insufficiency, in which the eyes have difficulty bringing near targets into focus.

•Nausea or dizziness, or Motion sickness.  Have you been to an amusement park and found your child gets sick easily on rides?  Do they often get car sick?  Both of these instances might be cases where the child’s perception of visual space is not accurate enough for the brain to know where the body is, thus, dizziness ensues.

As mentioned before, these types of behavior-related vision problems can either be dismissed as typical child behavior, or confused with another problem.  If your child is exhibiting any of these types of behaviors, the best course of action is to rule out vision problems first, as they can be both identified and treated. 

We can’t tell you how many times parents have been surprised to find out their child’s car sickness or short temper was the result of a vision problem.  Or how happy they were when the problem was corrected.

Vision and Learning Guide Learn how undetected vision problems can impact a child's ability to learn.  Download your free Vision and Learning Guide.

Topics: Learning problems