Nearly 250,000 Students in Wisconsin Have Vision Problems that Affect Learning

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Research from the American Optometric Association indicates that 1 in 4 children has a vision problem that affects learning. Based on last year's Wisconsin student enrollment numbers, the statistic indicates that nearly 250, 000 students in Wisconsin could have a vision problem that affects their academic progress.

Dr. Kellye Knueppel, developmental optometrist at The Vision Therapy Center

It is disheartening that large numbers of children in Wisconsin are struggling because people are not aware of the impact that developmental vision problems can have on learning.

Based on research from the American Optometric Association (AOA), The Vision Therapy Center estimates that nearly 250,000 students in Wisconsin could have vision problems that affect learning.

The AOA states that 1 in 4 children have a vision problem that affects learning. The Vision Therapy Center, with offices in Brookfield and Madison, applied that number to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction 2010 enrollment numbers for private and public school students (999,238 children.)

“Based on that number, 249,809 Wisconsin students have a vision problem that affects their ability to learn,” said Dr. Kellye Knueppel, a developmental optometrist at The Vision Therapy Center.

Dr. Knueppel notes that these problems are not just issues such as visual acuity, but also problems with the entire visual system that can affect a student’s ability to read and learn. These problems can include learning related vision problems, strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye), and stress induced vision problems.

Most learning-related visual problems are not easily identified. “Vision problems such as poor teaming, focusing, tracking and visualization skills won’t be detected by typical vision screenings,” Dr. Knueppel said. “Those students’ problems will go undetected.”

More comprehensive vision testing can detect these issues, but Dr. Knueppel notes that parents, educators and medical practitioners can spot telltale symptoms, such as avoiding close work, losing place while reading, rubbing eyes, holding reading materials closer than normal, reversing numbers and/or letters, and frequent headaches.

Karen Herz, a Learning Resource Specialist at Hales Corners Lutheran Elementary School, has noticed a rise in the number of students who have reading difficulties in her school, and attributes much of the problem to a lack of awareness.

"It is disheartening that large numbers of children in Wisconsin are struggling because people are not aware of the impact that developmental vision problems can have on learning,” Herz said.

For more information on symptoms of vision problems and to download the Vision and Learning Guide, which includes more information on vision-related learning problems, visit http://www.thevisiontherapycenter.com.

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