ST LOUIS, March 28. Although a better understanding of the brain’s role in learning was the apparent goal of PBS ‘ “Misunderstood Minds” program, which aired Wednesday night, the documentary failed to address one very significant aspect of a child’s ability to learn: the effectiveness of his or her visual processing abilities, according to Nancy Torgerson, O.D., FCOVD, President of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD).
While many factors can contribute to learning problems, some children experience difficulty in school because they are not ‘visually ready’ to learn. If their visual abilities are not thoroughly evaluated, they may mistakenly be labeled as learning disabled or as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), when in fact the underlying problem for many of these children may be an undetected and untreated vision problem.
“It is hard to understand how consideration of the important role vision plays in learning could be overlooked in an in depth review of factors that may cause learning difficulties in children”, said Dr. Torgerson. “A majority of what we learn is acquired through our eyes. But, we don’t see with our eyes, we see with our brain. Our eyes merely collect the visual images that are used by our brain to understand the world around us”.
“When vision problems are detected and treated, children are more visually prepared to learn in the classroom and at home,” she said. Treatment may include more than the eyeglasses required to provide clear vision across the classroom. A program of vision therapy may be needed to develop effective visual skills for eye focusing, eye coordination and visual information processing that are vital to learning.
Parents, teachers and health care professionals can learn more about the role of vision in learning by visiting the web site of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development at www.covd.org or calling the COVD office at 1-888-268-3770.
Based in St. Louis, Missouri, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development is the international board certifying organization for Developmental Optometrists who are trained as specialists in providing vision development and vision therapy services.