How does vision affect learning?

Vision is the dominant sense, and provides over 80% of the information we receive from the world and our surroundings. Our ability to visualise is crucial to thinking and most of our memories consist of visual information. Anything which interferes with our vision may affect how we learn and also cause symptoms such as strain and fatigue. With children this may  affect their desire to learn, particularly through close work and this can affect the development of their reading and writing skills. Some difficulties can also affect balance and co-ordination while others can leave children exhausted by even short periods of study or close work.

However the hardest to recognise may be the more subtle difficulties that can affect performance without causing symptoms. These can affect a child’s performance in school and can leading to underachievement and more worryingly a sense of failure.

It is only after a comprehensive visual investigation that we can understand what difficulties your child may have, as it is a complex area and no two individuals will have the same pattern or difficulty.

Below is a very brief guide to some of the issues which may affect vision and visual development:

Refractive Error - The most basic requirement for vision is a clear retinal image, unaffected by excessive long, short sight or astigmatism. Often this is the only visual skill that will be assessed in a routine sight test.

Poor Convergence – The way the eyes team together and work as a pair, this is a common area of difficulty and accounts for over half the symptoms associated with reading difficulty.

Poor Focusing – The ways the eyes adjust to see something clearly up close. Reduced focusing in adults in their forties is expected, but in children it is usually ignored or not even suspected.

Poor Scanning or Tracking – The way the eyes move around the visual world to access and  take in information. Problems here can cause a child difficulty in keeping their place while reading, and may affect spatial localisation as well as making us less aware of our surroundings.

Spatial Awareness – Visual information provides us with a ‘space map’ of the world around us and the accuracy of this maps determines how we react to the world around us. The better our spatial awareness the better our interaction with the world.

Perception – All of the above skills provide input that gives us information – what our brain does with that information is perception and how we make sense of the innumerable .are all products of perception and problems in any of these areas can impact on our learning

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