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Q: My child is struggling with reading. Could it be a vision problem?

Posted July 16, 2014 in Advice Column, Ankeny

A: The short answer is yes; the long answer is more complicated. Reading involves may different skills that come together to help us know and understand what a set of symbols say and mean. There are many areas that can be problematic. When it comes to vision alone, there could be numerous factors involved. Improper eye movements can lead to issues with skipping letters or words, reversing letters and words, even skipping or re-reading whole lines. These things can impact comprehension, reading speed and lead to frustration, avoidance and lowered reading levels. Recent research has reinforced this link, showing that poor eye movements/tracking can impact reading and learning. If eye movements are poor, eye coordination can also be affected, possibly leading to double vision, headaches and variably blurry vision. Eye coordination is needed to keep both eyes pointed in the proper location at the same time. If there is a problem with this, the brain will work to adjust things, but eye strain, fatigue and the issues mentioned above can occur. Other times, there can be an issue with how the eyes focus. These are just a few examples of how vision may play a role in reading and learning. When 80 percent of what a child is learning is vision-based, a comprehensive eye exam is a good starting point to figure out what may be going on.

Information provided by Dr. Erik Romsdahl, Child and Family Vision Center, 2525 N. Ankeny Blvd., Suite 109, Ankeny, 964-7541.

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