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Behavioral & Developmental Optometry

20/20 is Not Enough for a Child to be an Effective Reader and Learner


A typical eye examination evaluates visual acuity (e.g. – 20/20, 20/40), the need for glasses, and eye health. While these are important aspects of vision, these tests will not detect many other types of visual disorders that affect reading and learning. Up to 75 percent of vision problems including most eye teaming (binocular vision), focusing, tracking and visual processing problems will be missed by a basic eye exam or screening.

When a child is having reading, attention or post concussion problems, it is crucial that these other visual skills are tested. When a parent is told that their child’s eyesight is 20/20 and everything is fine, vision problems that can have a major impact on a child’s reading and learning ability are often  missed. Parents should ask their family eye doctor if these functional visual skills are being tested. While only a small percentage of eye doctors offer vision therapy, most are trained to test for and diagnose functional vision problems. If they don’t offer treatment, they should then refer children with these issues to doctors who do offer vision therapy.

A developmental vision exam goes well beyond 20/20 and healthy eyes to assess a wide range of visual skills that are important to learning, reading and attention.

The vast majority of school and pediatrician screenings are inadequate. They only test visual acuity (clarity of sight), and studies have shown that this method will miss up to 75% of learning related vision problems. Being able to see small letters on a distant vision chart or a blackboard does not predict whether children can use their eyes efficiently during close centered reading and schoolwork.

When it comes to vision and learning, 20/20 is not enough.

Take the Vision Therapy Quiz to see if your child has signs of a Learning Related Vision Problem.

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