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The Eyes Have It

Part 1 of a 6-part series on optical health

Published online: May 28, 2019 Healthy Vision Series with Dr. Dan Nielson Dr. Dan Nielson
Viewed 3513 time(s)

How well your child sees throughout the school day can have a huge impact on academic performance and behavior in the classroom. Typically most people mistakenly assume that since their child can see things in the distance that “of course” their child can see fine for reading.

Vision screenings typically test to see how well your child can see the letters on the eye chart, and if the child passes this test, vision is incorrectly determined to be fine. Most people don’t realize that all 20/20 means is that you are looking at the eye chart from a distance of 20 feet and you are able to see the size of letter you are supposed to see from 20 feet. That’s it!

If you think about it for a minute: Where does a child do most of his or her learning? Most reading, writing, homework, and test taking is done up close (one may see well at distance, but not see properly at 16 inches in front of them, which is the recommended reading distance).

In the classroom, we need to be able to look at our materials on our desk and quickly focus on the teacher’s writing on the board so we can copy it back to our notes – and we need to be able to do this all day! If any of these visual skills are missing or deficient, reading and learning will be difficult.

Children don’t know how they are supposed to see, and often think that everyone sees the same way they do. Therefore you need to know the warning signs that your child may have a vision problem:

  • Avoidance of reading
  • Preference to be read to
  • Turning his or her head at an angle when reading
  • Trouble comprehending what is read the longer he or she reads
  • Reading a paragraph out loud but not remembering what was read
  • Short attention span when reading or doing schoolwork

Even one of the above is a sign of possible eye coordination or eye movement problems. If your child struggles with reading, is smart in everything but school or is a bright underachiever, you need to make sure your child has all the visual skills required for academic success. To do this you need to see a developmental optometrist who provides an in-depth developmental vision evaluation.

To find a developmental optometrist near you visit the website for the College of Optometrists in Vision Development,

Dr. Daniel Nielson is a developmental optometrist who provides specialized services in the diagnosis and treatment of vision problems that interfere with reading and learning. Dr. Nielson is a popular speaker with parents and professional groups and may be reached at 208-227-8822. For more information visit his website:


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