Study aims to help children struggling with undetected visual barriers

January 30, 2013

Investigators look to parents, teachers, school counselors and nurses, and others, to help identify children with visual problems.

Hartford, CT-Behavioral optometrist Juanita Collier, MS, OD, and vision therapy coordinator Corinne Williams are spearheading a study to help school children overcome visual barriers to learning by:

  • Identifying children with potential visual issues early, because early detection and intervention are crucial to eliminating visual barriers to reading and learning.

  • Correcting these visual issues with eyeglasses, behavioral changes, or optometric vision therapy to enable children to achieve their full academic potential.

While most schools assume they have ruled out vision problems by performing cursory vision screenings, these screenings detect only approximately 5% of actual vision problems, according to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. This results in many children with undetected visual difficulties being placed in special education.

“My team and I have seen children who struggled for years before finding out they had convergence insufficiency,” Dr. Collier said. “When children struggle with reading and learning, it can cost their parents dearly in time, money, and frustration. In addition, there are significant costs to the schools when students have undiagnosed vision disorders.”

Collier and Williams are reaching out to parents, teachers, principals, school counselors, therapists, and school nurses everywhere to join this effort to help children with undetected visual problems who struggle in schools.

According to Collier and Williams, successful strategies and tactics will lead to decreased spending on already financially strained special education departments and allow education dollars to be reallocated.