How vision problems interfere with reading

Learning and behaviour problems often result from vision problems. Your child’s ability to see and process information plays an important role in his/her ability to learn and to be successful in school and throughout life.

Children with inefficient visual systems will present with the following symptoms:

  • Poor reading speed, poor reading comprehension, struggling to maintain his/her place while reading
  • Poor spelling and/or inability to form sight/words
  • Poor copying from the board
  • Inattentiveness or fidgeting in class
  • Avoidance of schoolwork and reading
  • Poor school performance

Taking in visual information efficiently requires the coordination of the eye muscles and strong oculomotor control. If there is a weakness or deficiency, this can affect a child’s ability to focus both eyes on the same spot simultaneously or to move their eyes smoothly as a team across a line of text. Poor eye tracking,  eye teaming, or focus leads to difficulty and frustration for a child, and the extra effort to take in visual information may cause fatigue, headaches, or the inability to maintain attention.

Efficient visual perception is needed for a child to recognize and remember letters, words, and their meaning. If a child struggles with visual perception, he will struggle with minor differences in similar words or letters. This may lead to confusing ‘p’ with ‘q’ or ‘d’ with ‘b’, or it may also mean conflating words with similar beginnings, reading words backwards, or having difficulty distinguishing the main idea of a story from a minor detail. Recognizing, remembering, and applying information quickly and easily is critical for performance in reading.

What is visual perception:

Visual Perceptual skills involve the ability to organize and interpret the information that is seen and give it meaning. Our eyes send large amounts of information to our brains to process every single second.  If our eyes are sending us the proper information in a way that makes sense, the brain can then process it, thus allowing us to form thoughts, make decisions, and create action. These skills include:

  • Visual discrimination – matching two objects that are the same
  • Visual memory – the ability to remember visual information
  • Form constancy – the ability to notice that two objects are the same even if they are different in size, colour, etc.
  • Figure ground – the ability to find an object when it is hidden in a busy background
  • Visual closure – the ability to identify two objects that are the same even if part of one is missing

Read more about our paediatric eye examinations “More about Behavioural Optometry” or contact us for more information.