A large part of learning is visual. Reading, spelling, writing, whiteboard work and, in many schools, computing are among the tasks students tackle every day.  Each involves seeing accurately and quickly, and understanding the information from the visual sense.

Many students’ visual abilities are not up to the level required for these learning tasks.

Visual problems may significantly contribute to learning difficulties.

Children typically react in one or a combination of the following ways:

    • They avoid near visual work as much as possible
    • They attempt to do the work but with lowered understanding
    • They have a short attention span
    • They complain of headaches, discomfort or fatigue
    • They get better vision by closing (switching off) one eye

More than 10% of New Zealand primary school children have visual defects. This means that the eyesight, eye co-ordination of focusing ability of one child in ten is not as efficient as it could or should be.

Unfortunately, a simple test to check vision for the whiteboard does not detect the vision problems which affect reading. Children today read considerably more than they did twenty five years ago. Three-quarters of all primary school study activities require some reading ability, and in secondary schools the proportion is higher.

For efficient vision children must have developed a variety of scanning, focusing and eye movement co-ordination skills to aid learning. Eyes must focus quickly from distance to near objects, and back again, and accurately follow moving targets. They must jump instantly from one work to the next while reading, yet always maintain perfect alignment to give single vision. Without efficient vision, judgement of relative depth is impaired and reading and copying tasks are difficult. Eighty per cent of all sensory input comes from vision, and children require good skills at co-ordinating vision and body movements for writing and for performing well at sports.

If your child is under 16 and you have a Community Services Card, you may be eligible for the Enable Government Subsidy to help towards the cost of an eye examination and new glasses.  Our staff can help you with further information regarding this.