Vision Problems and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
Is there a link between children’s learning problems and vision issues? While scientific evidence shows that vision problems can cause reading problems, what evidence do we have that children with IEPs have a higher tendency to have vision problems than the general population?
In 2012, the Ohio Optometry Association and Ohio State University conducted a study of 255 children with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) with the goal of determining the prevalence of vision issues among them. The conclusion: “…There is considerable association between vision impairment and poor school performance. These problems are illustrated by the high prevalence of a variety of eye problems experienced in patients with IEPs.”*
The most dramatic finding was that of the 179 children with IEPs requiring treatment for their vision issues, 124 (69%) of the children would have passed the school vision screening test because their eye problems did not affect their distance vision.
Conditions typically treatable with prescription lenses such as myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness) and astigmatism showed a higher prevalence in the studied group than the general population. Other conditions that require a more robust treatment also found among this group of children with IEPs included:
- Convergence Insufficiency 17.5%
- Accommodative dysfunction 17.3%
- Strabismus (“cross-eyed”) 11.5%
- Amblyopia (“lazy eye”) 8.4%
Since children cannot tell their parents they have a vision problem (they often assume that everyone sees the world as they do), all children should have a comprehensive eye exam from an eye doctor before they reach school age. Including this simple step in a child’s preparation for school will help maximize his or her chances for success in school, in sports, and in life.