Vision and Learning

Learning new material involves a myriad of visual skills.  A child’s two individual eyes must work together as a perfect team to master the 17 visual skills.

Symptoms of visual disorders include:

  • Skips lines, rereads lines

  • Trouble concentrating while reading

  • Trouble with reading comprehension

  • Dislike of reading in general

  • Short Attention Span with reading and schoolwork

  • Fatigue while reading

  • Homework takes much longer than it should

  • Reverses letter like “b” into “d”

  • Double vision

  • Acting out at school or at home​

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The 2 Main Categories of Learning-Related Vision Disorders

Binocular Vision

difficulty keeping the individual eyes working together as a team.

Visual Information Processing

difficulty processing and understanding the information that is seen by the eyes. 

Unfortunately, glasses often do not resolve these issues.  Because these are problems with how the brain is coordinating the two eyes together and processing the visual information, a patient 

A Brain Problem, NOT an Eye Problem.

People often mistake 20/20 vision for "perfect vision", but 20/20 only means that the image is seen clearly through one eye at a time at the moment that the test is taken.  While it is important to have a visual system that is capable of seeing clearly, seeing 20/20 is only 1 of the 17 visual skills that are needed to survive and thrive in school and in our daily activities. 

How is 20/20 vision not enough?

If you imagine that each eye is a camera that must constantly be adjusting its focus on objects that are close up and far away, then think of the brain as the computer system having a laundry list of tasks like:

  • the control system for

    • each eye's movement and aim

    • each eye's focus

    • coordinating the two eyes to move together as a team

    • coordinating the two eyes to focus on the same thing

    • coordinating our vestibular system with our visual system

    • coordinating our body and limbs with our visual system

  • the processing system

    • to put the two images from our eyes together

    • to coordinate our memory with what we are seeing​

    • to complete an image if we only see part of it (important in reading)

    • to recognize details and differences in images

  • and many more

Seeing all that the brain has to do to truly give us perfect vision, it's easy to now understand how someone can have a problem with their vision even if they are capable of seeing 20/20 for the brief moment that they take that test. Below, you can read further about the 17 Visual Skills and the many processing skills that come together to build our visual ability.  

Visual Skills & Common Disorders

Convergence Insufficiency (CI)


According to the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial, convergence insufficiency, or CI, "has a prevalence of 4.2% to 6% in school and clinic setting". That's roughly 1 out of every 20 kids sitting in a classroom trying to keep up with their studies. CI is when the visual processing system is not correctly sending enough of an autonomic signal to both eyes that would normally align them at a closer object such as a book that a child is trying to read. This lack of signaling causes the two eyes to be aimed at a point in space that is behind the desired target (book or paper) and results in the target (words attempting to be read) to become doubled. Aside from doubling of the letters, headaches and loss of comprehension are very common with CI as the child struggles to force their eyes together.




Visual Information Processing Skills and Symptoms of Disorders


1. Visual Discrimination: The ability to visually tell/detect the difference between similar items. - Problems can lead to difficulty distinguishing between p and q, or b and d. This can slow reading and decrease comprehension and learning of new material. 2. Visual Memory: The ability to recognize or recall previously presented visual information. - Problems can lead to a decrease in comprehension from what is seen in a lecture in class to problems remembering what they have read in a book or calculated in math or science classes. 3. Visual Spatial Relation: ability to perceive relationships of different objects' position in space. - Problems can lead to difficulty judging how far something is from yourself and from other objects. This can also be problematic even if something is verbally described to you or if it is read. 4. Visual Form Constancy: ability to recognize and label objects even when they are viewed from a different angle or in a different environment. - Problems recognizing the same letters in a different font. This can be problematic when copying things written on the board at school, finding wording in a visually busy place, efficiently reading different fonts, and more. 5. Visual Sequential Memory: ability to remember the specific sequence of what is seen. - Problems can affect math work, copying from the board or from other material, reading speed, and reading comprehension. 6. Visual Figure-Ground: ability to quickly find a target or object from a busy background. - Problems can lead a child to have a difficult time finding something specific on a page or on a wall or board in a classroom. Copying from the board could be affected as the child would have difficulty finding where they left off on the board. 7. Visual Closure: ability to identify an object or word when only part is visible. - Problems can present in children being slower readers and/or less comprehensive readers, as well as having difficulty with writing and math.




17 Visual Skills


1. Eye Movement Control: The ability to move both eyes together to point at an intended target or follow along a path, like a line of text 2. Simultaneous Focus at Far: Forming a clear image of something in the distance 3. Sustaining Focus at Far: Keeping an image of something in the distance clear 4. Simultaneous Focus at Near: Forming a clear image of something close to the eyes 5. Sustaining Focus at Near: Keeping a clear image of something close to the eyes 6. Simultaneous Alignment at Far: Lining up both eyes at the same point the distance 7. Sustaining Alignment at Far: Holding both eyes lined up at the same point in the distance 8. Simultaneous Alignment at Near: Lining up both eyes at the same point up close 9. Sustaining Alignment at Near: Holding both eyes lined up at the same point up close 10. Central Vision (Visual Acuity): This is where "20/20" vision comes in! 11. Peripheral Vision: Being able to see what's on either side of you while your eyes are pointed forward 12. Depth Awareness: Being able to tell that things are further away or closer up than each other (also know as depth perception) 13. Color Perception: Being able to tell different colors apart (if you are not color-blind) 14. Gross Visual-Motor: Moving yourself through space without bumping into things by using information from your vision 15. Fine Visual-Motor: Writing, sewing, texting, and doing other small and close-up activities with accuracy by using information from your vision 16. Visual Perception: Being aware of your environment and what is going on around you in your visual field (the area you can see) 17. Visual Integration: Bringing together your vision and your other senses to accomplish complex tasks, like reading while walking a balance beam www.covd.org




Visual Skills Needed for Reading


Every time we read from a book, a sheet of paper, a computer, or a mobile device, we are performing a visual task using 7 of the 17 vital visual skills: - When we aim two eyes at the same point simultaneously and accurately, we use: Skill #1 Eye Movement Control Skill #8 Simultaneous Alignment at Near Skill #9 Sustaining Alignment at Near - When we focus both eyes to make the reading material clear, we use: Skill #4 Simultaneous Focus at Near Skill #10 Central Vision (Visual Acuity) - When we continue to sustain clear focus, we use: Skill #5 Sustaining Focus at Near - When we move two eyes continually as a coordinated team across the line of print, we use: Skill #1 Eye Movement Control Skill #9 Sustaining Alignment at Near Skill #15 Fine Visual-Motor www.covd.org





Your Vision Requires More Than Just 20/20

Seeing 20/20 is only one of the 17 visual skills needed to function in our everyday environments.

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While the eyes are cameras, the brain is the computer taking in the information, editing it, creating our 3D world, and controlling our eyes and body based on what it calculates.  20/20 is hardly the beginning.

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Binocular to Vision-Related Learning Conditions

With a deeply complex Visual Processing System, many things can go wrong leading to a long list of symptoms and possible vision conditions to treat.

From congenital conditions that patients are born with to disorders acquired from strokes, concussions, and other traumatic brain injuries, your visual system is incorporated with virtually every part of your brain.  This means that symptoms from vision disorders can involve more than just visual disturbances and have cause problems with balance, coordination, learning, reading comprehension and efficiency, and so much more.

Clinically Proven & The Gold Standard For Several Vision Disorders

Non-invasive with no surgery and no medications.  Vision Therapy treats the entire visual system. 

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Treating more than just the cosmetics of an eye turn ("lazy eye") and working to treat the true root of the problem, Vision Therapy is truly the most effective and efficient treatment for various vision conditions.