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The Link Between Eye Health and Learning

Posted on August 14th, 2015

According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO), over 25% of all school age children in the country have vision problems. That's a troubling statistic considering that studies compiled by CAO show nearly 80% of all learning occurs visually, with children relying on their ability to see clearly -both up close and from far away - in order to develop hand-eye coordination, depth perception and fundamental skills such as reading and writing.

In fact, researchers have found that there's a direct link between eye health and learning. The Waterloo School of Optometry for example, carried out a study with students between the ages of 6-12 who had been identified as having a learning disability. None of the students had ever had a previous eye exam and students with glasses were not included in the study. The results found that 60% of the students suffered from a visual issue, suggesting that their diagnosis of a learning disability may in fact have been related to poor vision.

Additional studies have found that even children with seemingly perfect vision could also have eye problems that affect the way they learn. For example, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, conducted a study of children with 20/20 vision and found that, despite having seemingly exceptional eyesight, some of the children actually suffered from problems focusing on close-up objects and eye coordination, potentially causing them problems while reading.

Countless other studies have found similar results, suggesting that the way children see is essential to the way they learn. The problem for many parents and teachers is that it's often difficult for them to notice when a child has a visual issue. That's because children often have eye problems and don't realize it, either because they've been born with the condition - and don't have any other frame of reference - or because the condition has been slow to develop. In the case of young children, they may not have the vocabulary of experience to explain what's happening to their vision.

That's why getting a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year is so important for children. You should also schedule an appointment with an optometrist if you notice any change in your child's vision, with symptoms such as: 

  • Squinting to see things at a distance
  • Turning or tilting the head to favour one eye
  • Holding reading materials closer than usual
  • Using fingers to keep their place while reading
  • Constantly rubbing their eyes
  • Headaches in the forehead or temples
  • Performing below his or her potential

Vision is an essential ingredient when it comes to learning, and something that children rely on to perform at their best both in and out of school. That's why the most important test your child will ever take might not be in the classroom, but inside your optometrist's office.

To get a complete eye test for you and your child, book an appointment at an FYidoctors near you.