About 25% of children have an undiagnosed vision problem(1) and the numbers are expected to increase. These children are our students and patients. Their vision affects their balance, posture, fine motor skills, and reading ability. It affects their ability ot be successful at academics. When they are struggling with academics, many may find themselves diagnosed with a learning disability or being treated with a medication that has little no beneficial effect on their learning process. All they while, they simply need an eye exam.
August is Vision and Learning month. This is a time to expand the awareness of the importance of good vision and quality vision care for school-aged children. This has been the goal of Vision Rehab OT since its inception and continues to be the motivation for educating therapists, teachers and parents about the importance of vision.
Vision and Learning Resources
There are two great resources that can help you learn more about vision and its role academics.
- Vision Mechanic.net– Produced by Robert Constantine, Vision Rehab OT, and Dr. Charles Boulet, this website has collection of videos that cover many topics from refraction to simple easy ocular motor tasks any therapist can do to help improve visual skills for their clients.
- Miss Jaime OT– Miss Jaime OT and Robert Constantine, Vision Rehab OT, have produced a great four hour, AOTA approved vision course, just for the school-based therapist. This course covers the basics of ocular mot\or assessment and documentation as well as easy, fun treatment activities just for the school-based therapist.
Clues that Vision is a Problem
As more students are accessing education via the computer, therapists need to be aware that this could increase signs of eye strain, but we must also be aware of the importance of our students maintaining active, non-screen based, activities. Telehealth gives the us the chance to see those eyes up close. Look for:
- frequent blinking
- eye rubbing
- head tilts
- avoidance of near vision tasks
Remind parents and children of the importance of safe, outside play and of the importance of breaks from screen-based activities.
Be a Vision Aware Therapist
Vision is our furthest reaching sense and the primary channel for learning. If you student has not had an eye exam in year, encourage your parents to get make an appointment with an eye care professional. This is even more important for those children having academic problems.
(1)Varma R, Tarczy-Hornoch K, Jiang X. Visual Impairment in Preschool Children in the United States: Demographic and Geographic Variations From 2015 to 2060. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017;135(6):610–616. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.1021