19002 Park Row, Ste 203

Houston, TX 77084

Call Us: 832-684-9833

Vision care for the "Struggling Student"

A child needs good visual skills in order to read and do well in school. If a child is struggling academically, it is critical to know if their vision is contributing to their problem(s).

When a child struggles in school, everyone struggles

Children are usually curious and eager to learn, but they may lack motivation due to something holding them back. If a child’s visual system is not developing normally they will struggle needlessly with reading and learning. If you are a parent reading this, you know that when a child struggles with something (regardless of why) they often act out to avoid the struggle. They might display:

  • Tantrums when doing homework

  • Avoidance behaviors, they "don't listen" when asked to do something by the teacher or parent

  • Hyperactivity, they instead do everything besides their school/homework

  • Excessive talking, they become chatty and overly social in order to avoid doing work. This often gets them in trouble in class for not paying attention

  • Poor performance, receiving failing grades and poor report card comments

When a child shows any of those traits, it affects the whole family. The child's self-esteem is often poor and the parents and teachers worry about the child's future success.

In a classroom, vision is necessary for:

  • Reading fluency

  • Reading comprehension

  • Test taking

    • (Think of bubbling in a small, tight scantron sheet)

  • Math performance

  • Handwriting

  • Spelling

  • Ability to pay attention and take notes

Video about vision in the classroom

Vision problems often look like behavior problems in a classroom, and classroom behavior problems often coexist with vision problems

Many children who have undiagnosed vision issues often receive labels of being "suspicious" for conditions such as ADHD or dyslexia. For a parent or teacher, it can be difficult to tease the conditions apart; vision problems can both exist alongside and mimic behavior problems in the classroom. In fact, vision problems actually occur in the ADHD population 3x more than the normal population.

Many times because of their academic challenges, these children receive IEPs and 504 plans in school. These can be very helpful because they provide classroom accommodations and additional, personalized, assistance.

It is necessary to state that we do not diagnose or treat learning disorders. We only diagnose and treat vision problems that affect one's ability to learn.

Once the vision problem is eliminated, either the teacher or a well-trained tutor can then come in and fill the missing learning skills and real progress can be made.

If vision was the only problem to begin with, the child will be "cured" of the "learning disability." If there are other learning problems as well, then the child will at least have the chance to benefit from proper instruction aimed at those other problems, rather than spending time struggling to "see."

Common signs of a vision problem

  • Skips over small words or whole lines when reading

  • Loses place often, needs to use finger to keep place

  • Cannot remember what is read, but can remember what was heard

  • Spells the same word differently each time

  • Doesn't line up digits properly when doing math

  • Handwriting is all over the place, writes crooked / slanted

  • Performance is better on written or oral tests than on standardized, scantron (bubble in the answer) tests

What can you do?

A child struggling in school needs to have more than 17 different visual skills that are involved in reading and learning evaluated. Educators and occupational therapists might describe these skills as a child's "visual processing" skills. These visual skills are evaluated during both a functional vision evaluation and a visual perceptual evaluation.

What are some of the most important visual skills?

This is not a complete list of everything that gets tested, but these are amongst the skills that are necessary for a child to have.

  • Eye teaming control - the ability to point both eyes at the same place in space so that each eye sees the same image, whether at a distance or up close

  • Eye focusing control - being able to see an image clearly out of each eye, being able to maintain seeing something clearly without seeing occasionally blurred, and being able to transition the focus so that way you can zoom out and see at a distance clearly and then zoom in to see up close clearly

  • Eye tracking control - the ability to move both eyes equally to the intended points, such as reading the words accurately and sequentially along a line of text (without losing your place)

  • Peripheral awareness - a child learning to read needs to be able to pay attention to and observe things that are surrounding that which they are directly looking at

  • Visual perceptual skills - the ability to accurately identify that which you're looking at

    • Figure ground skills - the ability to find and hone-in on specific details when presented with a lot of of "clutter"

    • Visual closure - a prerequisite for visualization, visual closure is the ability to understand and "complete the picture" when only parts of the information are seen / known

    • Visual memory - can a child remember that which they saw, without having to speak under their breath what they are looking at

Treatment options

Once you have learned how vision is affecting your child's academic performance, we can help you to figure out the best route of treatment to help them. After all, the American Optometric Association acknowledges that treatment of convergence insufficiency has been associated with reduction in the frequency of adverse academic behaviors. These are the following treatment options we make use of at our office.

Therapeutic lenses

These may be prism lenses or plus-powered lenses. Prism lenses move light to a position most comfortable for the eyes, and plus-powered lenses reduce the strain and effort required to focus to see anything up close.

Syntonic phototherapy

This is the selective application of light frequencies through the eyes, and is used in support of other therapies to aid in the remediation of visual problems, visual discomfort, and visual field constrictions associated with visual stress or brain injury

Vision therapy

A customized therapy program, often recommended in conjunction with therapeutic lenses and syntonic light therapy, that rebalances the visual system and helps correct underlying binocular vision dysfunctions.

If your child struggles in school, contact us today!

Contact Details

Texas Vision Therapy

19002 Park Row Suite 203

Houston, TX 77084

Phone: 832-684-9833

Fax: 346-352-9156

Office Hours

Monday through Thursday:

9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Friday to Sunday: