August is Children’s Vision and Learning Month

I’m writing to commend Gov. Jon Corzine for recently declaring August Children’s Vision and Learning Month in New Jersey. The goal of this observance is to help educate parents and teachers about the critical link between vision and learning.

As parents prepare students for the coming school year with new clothes and supplies — as well as the mandatory physical and immunizations— we encourage them to include a comprehensive eye exam in their plans. A vision check that goes well beyond reading an eye chart on the wall can open doors for many children, particularly those who struggle with reading or completing homework assignments.

When a child fails to progress in school, a learning disability or attention deficit disorder frequently is thought to blame. But the problem

might be, in part, caused by a vision difficulty, not a learning one. Children with undiagnosed, untreated vision problems — sometimes mislabeled lazy or learning disabled— can experience trouble focusing between a book and the blackboard, or controlling or coordinating eye movements.

Because studies show 80 percent of what children learn in their early years is visual, early intervention is essential. Our children’s academic successes might well depend on their eyes.
Harvey B. Richman, O.D.
New Jersey Society
of Optometric Physicians