Children and Reading

Does Your Child Have a Learning-Related Vision Problem?

Corinne Odineal, OD, FCOVD

Since 80% of learning comes through the visual sense, if a child has not developed the visual skills necessary for learning, their learning can be impeded.  Most children are put in highly visually demanding environments at an early age, and many are not visually mature enough for these demands.  Most activities that enhance visual development are becoming rarer in today’s techno environment of Game Boys, iPods, X-Box, iPhones and television.  Physical activity has diminished in the school and home, as well as imaginative thinking and play.

If a child has poorly developed visual skills (eye movements, teaming, focusing, perception), he or she will typically react in one or a combination of ways:

  • Avoidance of near visual work (distracted)
  • Attempt to do the work but with lowered performance
  • Experience discomfort, fatigue, and short attention span
  • Adapt by becoming near sighted, or by suppressing the vision of one eye


Many developmental optometrists find that many children with learning-related vision problems have 20/20 distance eyesight, and have passed other screenings and vision tests.  But these children have great difficulty with vision tasks that are less than an arm’s length away.  Parents and teachers can learn to spot learning-related vision problems by checking the signs of the following checklist.  If a child is continually exhibiting any of these signs, they need to be checked by a doctor that specializes in vision therapy.

Signs of Vision Problems

  • Holding a book very close (7-8” away)
  • Covering one eye
  • Tilting or turning the head while reading
  • Constant poor posture when doing near work
  • Squinting
  • Child moves his/her head back and forth while reading
  • Poor attention or drowsiness after prolonged near work
  • Homework requiring reading taking longer than it should
  • Child complains of blurred or double vision when reading or writing
  • Child reports blurring or doubling only when work is hard
  • Trouble with copying from chalkboard, losing place
  • Must use a marker to keep place when reading
  • Writing up or downhill, irregular word or letter spacing
  • Child reverses letters (b for d), or words (was for saw)
  • Repeatedly omits small words
  • Re-reads or skips words or lines unknowingly
  • After learning a new word, fails to recognize the same word in the next sentence
  • Misaligns digits in columns of numbers
  • Headaches after near work
  • Burning or itching eyes after doing near work
  • Child blinks excessively when doing near work, but not otherwise
  • Rubs eyes during or after short periods of reading
  • Comprehension declines as reading continues
  • Child fails to visualize (can’t describe what they have been reading about)


For more information, see the COVD website pages on Vision & Learning and Learning Problems.




Contact Us

In Depth Vision optometry
3262 Fortune Court
AUBURN, CA 95602


Phone: (530) 830-7007

FAX:  (530) 718-3270




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Vision is the prerequisite for reading.   Poor vision skills lead to poor reading skills.

VisionHelp Vision and Learning

Watch this TED Talk about curing vision-related learning problems:

TED Talk Dr. Vicky Vandervort

Watch this TED Talk about how vision affects our sense of reality:

TED talk video Isaac Lidsky