Reading and Learning Difficulties

Our vision contributes significantly towards our reading abilities, learning abilities and academic performance. Having 20/20 eyesight is not nearly enough to be able to read seamlessly and perform well in school and at work. Imagine a child with 20/20 eyesight attempting to read when the words are moving around on the page. Reading and learning requires much more than good eyesight, it requires good functional vision and visual information processing speed. A child can have 20/20 eyesight and still have a vision problem. These visual problems cannot be treated through glasses or contact lenses, they are treated with Vision Therapy. In fact, many children who require Vision Therapy have 20/20 eyesight.

1 in 10

children has a visual problem severe enough to affect their learning in school

Take our quiz to assess if you or your child require a Vision Therapy Assessment
Typical vision screenings can miss at least
0 %

of vision problems

2/3

of Canadian children in an Individualized Program Plan (IPP) have a vision problem that interferes with their school performance

0 %

of school-based learning is visual

If you or your child exhibit any of the following symptoms, they may need Vision Therapy

Difficulty reading
Poor academic performance
Short attention span
Skipping words or lines when reading
Poor eye-hand coordination
Confusion between lefts and rights
Letter reversals (b’s and d’s, p’s and q’s)
Lazy eye or crossed eye
Headaches
Double vision
Blurry vision or eyestrain
General loss of interest in reading or near work
Difficulty staying focused
Head Tilt when reading
Tendency to use a rule or finger when reading
Difficulty copying from the board in the classroom
Print moving on the page when reading

Our vision contributes significantly towards our reading abilities, learning abilities and academic performance. Having 20/20 eyesight is not nearly enough to be able to read seamlessly and perform well in school and at work. Imagine a child with 20/20 eyesight attempting to read when the words are moving around on the page. Reading and learning requires much more than good eyesight, it requires good functional vision and visual information processing speed. A child can have 20/20 eyesight and still have a vision problem. These visual problems cannot be treated through glasses or contact lenses, they are treated with Vision Therapy. In fact, many children who require Vision Therapy have 20/20 eyesight.

Children require the following important visual skills for reading and learning:

This is the ability of both eyes to look steadily at a stationary object such as a word on a page. Poor fixation would lead to the child often losing their place when reading.

This is the ability of our eyes to move together across a line of print at the same rate. If unable to do so, the child will skip words when reading and have a tendency to use a ruler or finger to help guide them when they are reading or writing.

This is the ability of our eyes to make the print on a page clear and keep it clear for a sustained period of time. It also involves keeping our vision clear when shifting focus from near print on a page to far print, for example when copying from the board in the classroom. A child with poor accommodation skills will get blurry vision, eyestrain and headaches when reading. They also often report that print moves around on the page when they are reading.

This important skill is required to make and keep print on a page single and preventing it from splitting into two (i.e. double vision). It requires the eyes to work as a team and if they are unable to do that, then the child gets double vision when reading, skips words, gets headaches and sometimes tilts their head when reading.

This is the child’s ability to use their higher-level brain functioning centres to make sense out of what is being read. This helps with areas such as reading comprehension, science and math.

If a child has reduced visual skills, they can find it difficult to keep up with reading, reading comprehension and writing at their grade level. Children often do not know the difference between “normal” and “abnormal” vision so a child with reduced visual skills will not complain of any visual difficulties but instead may avoid reading or schoolwork altogether because their vision is uncomfortable, or it requires extra effort for them to focus or keep reading material clear and comfortable longer than a few seconds. This may lead them to rush through assignments to avoid any eyestrain, double vision or headaches leading them to make careless mistakes which can impact their academic performance.  

Children with functional visual problems also often have a short attention span and daydream in the classroom because their visual system is only able to function effectively for a few seconds or minutes after which they experience symptoms such as blurred vision, double vision, fatigue or headaches. This often confuses parents who have a hard time understanding why their child is struggling in school despite having “20/20” vision. Eventually, many of these children get misdiagnosed with behavioral disorders such as ADHD when the root cause of their poor attention and concentration is their vision that can be treated by Vision Therapy. 

If you suspect that your child may have a functional vision problem, it is important to book them in for a Vision Therapy Assessment exam at Vision Therapy Centre, which is different from their routine annual eye examination. A Vision Therapy Assessment is a thorough functional vision and visual information processing examination with our board-certified Developmental Optometrist, Dr. Palki Arora, that thoroughly assesses the child’s functional vision and visual information processing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Parents and teachers can look for the following symptoms: 

  • Poor reading performance as per grade level
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor focus or attention span
  • Head tilt when reading or copying from the board
  • One eye turns in or out at any time
  • Child complains of double vision at any time
  • Moves head when reading across a page instead of moving eyes only
  • Frequently loses place when reading
  • Skips letters or lines when reading
  • Avoids reading out loud in the classroom
  • Blinks excessively
  • Daydreams in the classroom
  • Quickly loses interest in reading
  • Needs finger or ruler to help read
  • Difficulty writing in a straight line (writes uphill or downhill)
  • Rereads the same line frequently
  • Reverses letters and confuses between b’s and d’s or p’s and q’s
  • Confuses similar words

If a child is struggling with reading, learning or school performance, it is important to find out the root cause of their struggles and since vision plays such a key role in learning and education, eliminating an underlying vision problem should be one of the first steps. If a child displays any of these symptoms, it is important for them to have a Vision Therapy Assessment with Dr. Arora at Vision Therapy Centre to examine their functional vision and visual processing abilities as soon as possible before they start to fall behind in school.

No. Functional vision problems do not go away with age. A child with a functional vision problem becomes an adult with a functional vision problem, causing them a lot of frustration throughout their life for not being able to effectively perform day-to-day tasks. For example, being on the computer for a prolonged time period would cause significantly more eyestrain, fatigue and headaches for someone with a functional vision problem compared someone who does not have a vision problem. If a functional vision problem is suspected, the advantage of treating it during childhood is so that it does not impact learning, academic or work performance in the future.

Yes. The goal of vision therapy is to help children achieve their vision’s maximum potential. Some children have the ability and intelligence level to excel in school but are held back by the inadequacies of their visual system such that even if they want to be able to read books for hours at a time, they are unable to do so because their vision becomes uncomfortable after reading only a few pages. Vision Therapy is a clinically proven treatment method that strengthens the child’s eye to brain connections so that their visual system has the capability to take on all levels of academic load. Vision Therapy is backed by research and has played a key role in improving the lives of children and adults for generations.

Book an Appointment

Schedule a Vision Therapy Assessment with our board-certified developmental optometrist, Dr. Arora, for a thorough assessment of your visual skills and visual processing speed.