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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. Children rely 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
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.
Source: FYI Doctor

Written by
Dr. Wes McCann

Dr. McCann earned his two Bachelor of Science degrees (both with honours) at Western University in London, Ontario, before going on to earn his Bachelor of Vision Science, accelerated MBA, and Doctor of Optometry degrees at the Nova Southeastern University (NSU) of Optometry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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