What is Schoolvision?
Schoolvision studies the way our eyes work together as we read; in particular the relationship between vision and difficulties with reading (including dyslexia).
Words and letters appear to shift out of order sending confused messages to the brain which can cause difficulties in reading and spelling.
If this takes place while a child is learning to read the effect on their confidence, enjoyment of reading and behaviour can be profound, with long term effects into adulthood – so while it is never too late to help adults with reading difficulties, the greatest benefits are achieved by addressing these issues during childhood.
In the UK there is very little consistency in how Optometrists deal with children with reading and learning difficulties, whether they have been diagnosed with dyslexia or not. The standard NHS examination looks at the health of the eye and each eye’s individual prescription – but little is done on the evaluation of how the two eyes work as a pair, never mind finding the faults that exist or subsequently treating them.
The basis of ‘Schoolvision’
Schoolvision studies the way children’s eyes work together as they read; in particular the relationship between their vision and problems they may have with reading. A concentration on reading and writing is a modern phenomenon and our eyes haven’t yet evolved to deal with so much close work. Because of this they sometimes need help.
The problems this causes often appear as fatigue, headaches, frustration, lack of attentiveness or poor behaviour in class. In extreme cases this can affect other areas of development. By correcting these problems, children can read faster, more accurately and with greater confidence.
Using established sight tests and corrective spectacles, we work with children to improve their ability to read and interpret words.
When we go to read some text, just one eye (the dominant eye) should take over the job of aiming at the words, but if both eyes try to do the same job, the words and letters appear to shift out of order sending confused messages to the brain which in turn causes difficulty with reading and spelling. Without stable eye dominance, attention will continually swap from one eye to the other. At the moment of swapping, the letter or word will shift position in space. When this happens unintentionally while reading, you lose your place in the sentence or paragraph and individual words become difficult to learn or spell because the letters won’t stay in the right order.
In addition to stabilising the dominant eye, most individuals presenting with dyslexia also show a weakness of the ‘up close’ focussing muscles (accommodative insufficiency), and to prevent the print blurring, must work their accommodation muscles much harder than is normal. In addition to this, the individual generally shows some weakness of the muscles to the outside of the eyeball (extraocular muscles) – so it is important to ascertain which muscles are at fault, and in what eye.
What is a Schoolvision assessment?
In addition to a standard NHS eye exam, this assessment is a programme of diagnostic and screening tests which are carried out to go much further and deeper into understanding the way your eyes work together, and to monitor improvements over time. The same principles can also be applied to adults, but the ideal time to identify and address these issues is during childhood.
The Schoolvision assessment checks :
- Detailed history & symptoms – difficulties at school or in the workplace
- Detailed muscle balance
- The stability of the dominant eye
- The ability for eyes to track a moving object
- That both eyes can focus clearly for distance and reading
- Reading speed
- Colour preference and light sensitivity
The Schoolvision assessment may result in a new prescription for spectacles. The patient will normally require a series of follow-up visits to adjust the prescription as the eyes adapt.
- Better school / workplace performance
- Increased reading speed and accuracy
- Better at arithmetic
- Increased self esteem / confidence
- Clearer writing
- Increased concentration
- Decreased tiredness & anxiety
- Reduced incidence of headaches / migraines
- Calming effect
- Better co-ordination and balance