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Letter: Promote connection between vision, learning

August is National Children's Vision and Learning Month. As parents ready their children to start the new school year, the SW/WC Service Cooperative wants to help raise awareness about the connection between vision and learning.

Current research shows that vision problems affect millions of American children and thereby impact their ability to learn. According to the American Public Health Association, 25 percent of students in grades K-6 have visual problems that are serious enough to impede learning.

Eighteen million children will not have had eye examinations by a doctor of optometry or other certified vision care professional prior to entering school. The Vision Council of America reports that it's estimated that 80 percent of children with a learning disability have an undiagnosed vision problem.

Parents and teachers should look for the following indications that vision problems may be contributing to learning challenges of their children and students: frequent loss of place when reading; poor reading comprehension; sloppy handwriting; confusing similar- looking words; failure to recognize the same word in sequential sentences; and complaints of eye discomfort or headaches after reading.

Exams using only the eye chart do not measure how well a child can see at near distances, nor do they evaluate depth perception, eye coordination or numerous other visual skills required in the learning process. They also don't evaluate the visual abilities that are needed to extract information off of a page. We want to encourage all parents, teachers, and all other decision-makers involved in the health and welfare of children to make a comprehensive eye examination part of their preparations for the new school year.

The SW/WC Service Cooperative wants all children to succeed and have opportunities for learning, growth, and fulfillment. During National Children's Vision and Learning Month, let's make sure our children are prepared for school and have the opportunity for success.