Did you know eye exams can prevent learning disabilities?

As a reading specialist and learning expert, as well as a parent whose child had vision therapy to alleviate reading problems, it is important to take your child for their first eye exam before 12 months of age, then have a  learning related vision exam prior to entering school and each year thereafter if they have visual problems or wear glasses, or every two years if not.

About 25% of schoolchildren have undiagnosed visual problems which makes it appear that they have a learning disability when they actually don’t.According to Prevent Blindness America, one in four school-age children have vision problems that, if left untreated, can affect learning ability, personality and adjustment in school.

School-age children also spend a lot of time in recreational activities that require good vision. After-school team sports or playing in the backyard can be difficult if children can’t see as they should.

Here are the most common warning signs of children who have eye and vision problems which will affect their ability to learn.

  1. Consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close
  2. Losing his place while reading or using a finger to guide his eyes when reading
  3. Squinting or tilting the head to see better
  4. Frequent eye rubbing
  5. Sensitivity to light and/or excessive tearing
  6. Will close one eye to read, watch TV or see better
  7. Child will avoid reading and homework, or things at distance such as sports
  8. Complaining of headaches or tired eyes
  9. Avoiding using a computer, because it “hurts his eyes”
  10. Receiving lower grades than usual
  11. Teacher says your child is lazy and won’t pay attention in class
  12. Child sees a word like “the” on a page and reads the word as “what”
  13. Your child does not see the punctuation at the beginning of a sentence
  14. Child reverses letters, writes up or down hill on paper

It is important that every child get a thorough learning related eye and vision exam before entering school and at regular intervals thereafter.


eye exams and learning disabilities

This distance eye chart test is not good enough


As reading  gets more demanding , your child’s eyes need to be in tip top shape to make sure that he or she does not fall behind in school or get labeled as having learning disabilities which could have been prevented by the proper eye exams.

We recommend that your child see a developmental  optometrist who is an eye doctor specially trained to check your child’s eyesight but also his vision, which determines whether he can make meaning from what he sees.

Make sure that your child has more than the distance eye chart screening at school as no child reads their book from 20 feet away while covering one eye.

Two sources to find developmental optometrists who do excellent eye and learning related exams are COVD.org and OEPF.org

We thank Gretchyn Bailey, NCLC, FAAO, Eye Health Contributor for a portion of this article which appears on the AllAboutVision website where you can read more about eye and vision exams.

Eye exams can certainly be helpful in determining whether your child has a learning disability or a simple vision problem which looks like a learning disability in disguise.


Posted by +Pat Wyman, author and founder of HowToLearn.com