Visual Symptoms of Learning Related Vision Issues

While you need an eye doctor to properly diagnose a learning-related vision issue, there are signs you can watch for.

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While you need an eye doctor to properly diagnose a learning-related vision issue, there are signs you can watch for.There are numerous signs of possible vision issues that can have severe ramifications for your child's ability to read and learn, that could be corrected via vision therapy. However, it can be tough to recognize them if you don’t know what to look for, and because of this it is all too common for these conditions to go undiagnosed and untreated. Additionally, it is not uncommon for children to suffer from more than one vision issue.

In this article we will cover several common symptoms, so you can catch vision issues early.

Signs of a Vision Issue While Reading

Signs of a Vision Issue While Reading

If there is a vision issue that will affect learning, reading is the most likely activity to bring it to light.

Slow Reading Speed

If your child is reading slower than they should be, it is likely a sign of a problem making it difficult to focus, such as conversion insufficiency. Children with difficulty reading are also likely to use a finger to keep their place while reading, so that is another potential sign to look for.

Holding the Book Extra Close

If a child is consistently holding reading material (or other objects) extremely close to their face, it can indicate an issue with their near vision. This issue can be simple farsightedness, or something more complicated.

Head Movement While Reading

When someone with good vision reads, only their eyes move back and forth as they scan the page. However, if a child is suffering from a vision issue, they might instead move their whole head side to side while reading. This indicates an issue with the vision skill known as saccades, which enables rapid eye movement across one or two focus points.

Letter Reversal and Skipping Lines

If your child is having difficulty focusing on what they are reading, there is a chance they will reverse letters (a symptom also associated with dyslexia) or skip lines altogether as they miss them. This will be much more noticeable if the child is reading aloud or copying text. Since they might not realize they are making mistakes, it is important to be proactive in order to catch this. If you suspect reading difficulties, it would be a good idea to ask your child to read a portion aloud.

Using a Finger to Read

If a child is having difficulty focusing on what they are reading, or tracking their eyes smoothly across a sentence, they are likely to use their finger to mark their place as they go. 

Poor Reading Comprehension

If your child is suffering from poor reading comprehension, it will likely be more challenging to catch outside of a classroom setting. However, if they talk about assignments and appear to not properly understand what they read, it might indicate a vision issue. Reading comprehension issues are caused by poor visual processing of information. For example a child that must use all their energy to focus on what they read will often have poor comprehension as they must work much harder to just read, leaving little extra energy or time for comprehension.

Other Signs of Vision Issues


Head Tilting

If a child is suffering from a refractive error or amblyopia, they may tilt their head in order to realign their eyes and see better. This can be done both consciously and unconsciously.

Poor Handwriting

A number of vision issues can lead to poor handwriting, as this requires both the eyes being focused properly and hand-eye coordination.

Difficulty Copying from the Board

Copying from the board requires a variety of visual skills such as visual sequencing, visual memory, attention, processing speed, fine motor skills, 

Difficulty Concentrating and Fatigue

While it can also be a sign of developmental disorders like ADHD, difficulty concentrating on tasks can also be a sign of vision issues. A child with a vision issue making it difficult to concentrate will not only have a hard time with reading, but with any task requiring the use of the eyes, especially for an extended period of time. This may also be accompanied with frequent headaches and fatigue, due to the strain of the eyes as they try to focus on the task.

Fidgeting and Irritability

If a child is having trouble focusing on their work, they can become frustrated, which in turn leads to fidgeting and irritability. Since these can both be symptoms of other disorders, such as ADHD, if your child exhibits either of these you should have their vision examined so the cause of the problem is determined before any form of treatment begins.

Spatial Confusion

Spatial confusion can manifest through tasks requiring hand-eye coordination, and can be a sign of issues with depth perception and binocular vision.

Signs of a Vision Issue While Reading
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