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Visual Skills Needed for School: What to Look For

1172548_10150392203379977_1539208274_oI know it is the height of summer. But the “back to school” season is right around the corner. New schools, new teachers, and new challenges await every student. Good vision is among the many skills children need to read, write and learn their best. Many parents do not realize that vision is more than being able to see the words on a page or board clearly, but it is actually a form of fine-motor skill. Just like it takes years to master the fine motor skill of controlling the tiny muscle of the fingers to write legibly, it takes years to master the coordination of the even smaller muscles that move and focus the eyes. Continue reading

August is National Children’s Vision & Learning Month

If you have tried to get an appointment recently, you may have noticed that August is a very busy month for us. And rightfully so. August is National Children’s Vision & Learning Month. I spend much of this month – and every month – helping children develop the visual skills they need to read and write. I routinely hear how after appropriate glasses and/or vision therapy, patients are reading better than ever, not fighting over homework, checking out books for fun, doing better in sports, and so many other achievements.

Here is one:

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And you can find many more videos like this one at on YouTube.

If I’m not convincing enough, read these quotes from more well-known people and organizations.

  • “25% of students in grades K-6 have visual problems that are serious enough to impede learning.” – American Public Health Association
  • “When vision problems go undetected, children almost invariably have trouble reading and doing their schoolwork. They often display fatigue, fidgeting, and frustrations in the classroom—traits that can lead to a misdiagnosis of dyslexia or other learning disabilities.” – American Optometric Association
  • “It is estimated that 80% of children with a learning disability have an undiagnosed vision problem.” – Vision Council of America
  • “Early diagnosis and treatment of children’s vision problems is a necessary component to school readiness and academic learning; and that vision screening is not a substitute for a complete eye and vision evaluation by an eye doctor. Comprehensive eye and vision examinations … are important for all children first entering school and regularly throughout their school-aged years to ensure healthy eyes and adequate visual skills essential for successful academic achievement.” – National PTA Policy Statement 2005,
  • “Early testing for vision problems is key to preventing learning disabilities or, in some cases, significant visual impairment in children.” – Ned Calonge, MD, MPH, Task Force Chairman, Chief Medical Officer and State Epidemiologist at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
  • “A three year study of 540 children found that those children who had visual perceptual and eye movement difficulties did poorly on standardized tests.” – Dr. Lynn Hellerstein, FAAO, FCOVD,

You can find tons of information on vision and learning on COVD.org. I wholeheartedly encourage you to take part in Vision and Learning Month by reading and sharing your success stories on COVD’s Facebook page! And, of course, if your kids haven’t had their back to school exam yet, schedule one here or call us at 813-792-0637.

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

AOA School Readiness Summit: Focus on Vision

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The American Optometric Association recently held a School Readiness Summit: Focus on Vision in which doctors, nurses, educators and advocates for children’s health gathered to examine learning-related vision issues that are keeping children from achieving in the classroom. This summit was created to address the concerns that our current system is flawed and a policy shift is needed. The problem is that currently, the U.S. educational system and some health care providers rely heavily on vision screenings to discover the kids that need comprehensive exams. These screenings do catch some types of vision problems but they can miss about 75% of those children that have learning-related vision problems. Detecting these vision problems is very important as “studies show that much of what children learn comes though vision, and undetected and untreated eye and vision disorders in children, such as amblyopia and strabismus, can result in vision loss, additional costly treatments, delayed reading and poorer outcomes in school.”

The take-home statement that the summit produced is that comprehensive eye exams must serve as the foundation to determine school readiness in school-aged children. Another important point established at this meeting is the establishment of the link between healthy vision and classroom learning.

This historic summit is an important step in ensuring that children receive the proper detection and treatment of vision problems before they become detrimental to their learning. Here at Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, we are excited to see these changes being made, since it has been our goal from the beginning to not only catch vision problems at an early stage, evidenced by the InfantSEE program that we offer that provides free eye exams to infants between the age of 6 months and 1 year of age, but to also treat certain types of problems through our extensive one-on-one vision therapy program.

If you have any questions regarding the InfantSEE program, vision therapy program, or would like to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your child before they start school, give our office a call or come in to schedule.

All the best,

Justin Schoonover, CPO

Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
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AOL Story about a Child’s Vision and Learning Success

More and more regularly there are stories in the local and national media about vision therapy. This is great because not everyone is aware that vision problems can be responsible for a child having trouble learning to read. Or parents may not know that difficulties with vision can keep a good reader from completing assignments. The more research that is done, books are that published, and news stories are produced, the more likely it is that these patients can get the help they needed.

Just this week there is an article in the AOL Health section called, Could Your Child Have a Learning-Related Vision Problem? It is a story about the problems that Andrew had with reading that were related to vision problems even though he could see 20/20. He was on the verge as being classified as having a “learning disability.” That could be a devastating label for a bright young child to have.

Fortunately, Andrew’s eye coordination problem was discovered and treated by Optometrist Kimberly Walker. He had a “learning-related vision problem,” a problem with eyes and vision that make school harder than it should be. The process for treating these kinds of problems often involves glasses and a series of therapeutic activities called “vision therapy.” Essentially, the goal is to help the patient learn to use their eyes as effectively as they can. This allows them to develop needed life-skills like reading and writing.

If you’d like more information about learning-related vision problems, or to find a doctor who can evaluate for learning-related vision problems, visit COVD. Or feel free to call our office at 813-792-0637.

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Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.
Dr Nate Google PlusBright Eyes Tampa on Google PlacesBright Eyes Tampa on FacebookBright Eyes Tampa on TwitterBright Eyes Tampa on YelpBright Eyes Tampa on foursquareWestchase Patch

Bright Eyes Event: Reading Problems: The Visual Connection

Come to our next office seminar, Reading Problems: The Visual Connection. This evening event will be held at Bright Eyes and will cover how vision problems can interfere with reading development. The seminar will occur on November 17, 2008.

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Study: Glasses May Help Preschoolers Learn

It may sound like common sense, but a recent study, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, has shown that glasses can improve the skills of young children.

When I prescribe glasses to adults, my most common goal is to improve clarity of sight. This is true for children as well. But vision is a learned skill and since the majority of this development occurs during the early years, I am also thinking about the overall development of the child when I prescribe glasses.

The recent study examined two groups of low-income pre-schoolers. One group needed glasses to see clearly but didn’t have them. The other group could see clearly without glasses. The groups were essentially the same in every other way.

The study demonstrated two things: First, the children that had been without glasses performed less well on standardized tests of visual-motor integration (eye-hand coordination). This could be because they couldn’t see well the tests that they were given, or because their development was hampered by poor or uncomfortable vision. (Authors suspect the latter). The study showed that the the level of visual-motor deficit was similar to those who have had nutritional deficits, high lead exposure, and premature birth.

The second (and more exciting finding) of the study was that after wearing the proper glasses for only six weeks, the scores of the poorly performing group improved to match those of the other group. This shows that not only were the glasses improving the clarity of sight for these young children, they were allowing them to catch up to their peers in development.

After I prescribe glasses to young children, parents routinely comment on how much better their child perform. They can often write neater, color within the lines, read faster and demonstrate better comprehension. As a children’s eye doctor, this is always gratifying to hear.

If you have young children, be sure to get their vision evaluated. And although it might seem to be a struggle, if glasses are prescribed for your child, ensure that he or she wears them as directed.

You can read more about the study here. You can also find an abstract of the study here.

Be Well!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

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