A Teacher’s Guide to Vision

Dr. Russel Lazarus, April 7, 2020

It may surprise you to discover that many students that show signs of a learning difficulty actually have a vision problem.

“It is estimated that more than ten million school age children suffer from vision problems that may cause them learning difficulties in school.” (National PTA)

If vision problems are missed during crucial times in development, a child’s eye health, development, and learning performance may be negatively affected.

As an educator, you play a vital role in the future success of your students. You are the most qualified professional to notice any learning problems in the classroom.

What every teacher should know about their students’ vision

  • 80% of all learning is obtained through vision.
  • 60% of students identified as having a “learning difficulty” have undetected vision problems.
  • Children may not recognize their vision difficulties because they have “always seen this way”, and gradual changes may go unnoticed.

There is a false belief that because a child sees an eye chart across the room clearly, that they have perfect vision. A measure of “20/20” is simply the ability to see clearly from 20 feet away, which has little to do with reading, attention and the other tasks required for successful academic performances.

School vision screenings are limited

School vision screenings might detect myopia or a significant lazy eye, but many other vision problems can be missed. A school vision screening is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye examination from an eye doctor.

  • Vision screenings are not diagnostic and can only identify some vision problems.
  • Most vision screenings cannot detect problems with: focusing, eye tracking, or depth perception.

A comprehensive eye exam should include tests to determine nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, eye coordination and eye muscle function, eye focusing abilities and visual processing.

If you suspect your student has an eye condition, recommend that their parents contact an eye doctor who can diagnose and treat the condition.

SEE RELATED: How to Help Your Students Succeed 

Find a Vision Therapy Eye Doctor Near You

What should teachers look for?

Here is a list of signs that a student in your classroom may be experiencing vision difficulties:

  • Blurry or double vision
  • Squints eyes
  • Reading below grade level
  • Difficulties with comprehension
  • Trouble spelling
  • Slow to finish written assignments
  • Loses place or skips words when reading
  • Reverses letters or words while reading or writing
  • Attention or concentration problems
  • Omits or confuses small words while reading
  • Makes errors when copying from the board
  • Holds reading material close to the face
  • Rubs eyes
  • Uses finger to hold their place
  • Avoids close work
  • Complains of frequent headaches
  • Tilts head or covers one eye

Vision therapy quiz

As a teacher, you play a vital role in detecting vision problems that may be affecting your students’ success in the classroom.

Take our vision therapy quiz to help you easily identify an undiagnosed vision problem.

Vision problems can have a direct effect on academic success, and athletic and behavioral performance. 

Understanding the role vision therapy can play is essential.  With this understanding, you can help your students to receive effective treatment, and give them the tools they need to achieve their potential.

LEARN MORE: Guide to Vision and Learning Difficulties

Parents are urged to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam, and to discuss any questions they may have about treating their child’s eye condition.