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Ask Dr. B: Can Visual Skills Affect Math Performance

qmMy daughter just had academic testing done. She is in 2nd grade. She is a great reader and has no problem writing. Her struggle is with visual perception and long term retrieval. She has difficulty with math; specifically with shapes, graphs and tables. She does not seem to understand or can not see the relevance to the math problems presented. Can you tell me if you have heard of this math issue having to do with a vision problem?

Well, without being too technical, math does involve complex visual perceptual skill. It is certainly possible that a challenge in specific visual processing can result in difficulty with math. The relationships that are involved in math are typically rooted in tangible concepts that are readily processed visually. (Here is a simple example). This can even be the case even if your daughter is a good reader – it is also possible that her language verbal skills are so very high that they compensate for visual difficulty, or that the visual processes may not be the same used primarily in reading.

Has your daughter and a complete vision evaluation? I would start there, followed by an optometric visual information processing evaluation. After these are completed, it would be possible to tell you if some form of intervention (glasses, contact lenses, vision therapy) may benefit her.

And, of course, she should continue to receive the needed instruction and any tutoring/remediation/addition instruction that is appropriate.

I hope this information has been helpful. If you have further questions, you can call the office at 813-792-0637 or email me directly.

Be Well!

Dr. Nate

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

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Vision Problems Affect How Children Learn Math Skills

In the most recent issue of Optometry & Vision Development, the official journal of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, two articles were published by German scientist and researcher, Dr. Burkhart Fischer and his team which found that children with vision problems have a hard time learning basic mathematical skills and that if the appropriate vision therapy is given, math skills improve.

Dr. Fischer’s work has been featured on several German television news programs which reported on his research in the area of deficits in vision and eye movement control, as well as his success using vision therapy and its ability to improve reading.

Dr. Fischer notes that, “My research shows that vision function and eye movement control can affect a child’s development even into young adulthood. It is important for children to have a comprehensive assessment for the presence of learning related vision disorders in order to know why they may be having difficulties in reading and spelling skills, as well as obtaining basic arithmetic ability at school.”

He goes on to state, “Teachers, doctors, psychologists, therapists, and parents must be informed about these new facts in order to be able to help children overcome their deficits. It may make little sense to teach reading or math skills to someone who has deficits in basic sensory, visual and/or optomotor processing.”

Dr. Burkart Fischer and his team conduct their research at the Center of Neuroscience, Optomotor Laboratory, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Federal Republic of Germany.

You can download the original articles here and here.

Dr. Nate

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


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