Learning Disabilities and Eyesight

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability occurs when one has difficulty with certain learning related tasks such as reading, writing, math, listening, speaking, and spelling. Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities but there are many other types of learning disabilities. Learning disabilities are related to how the brain processes what it sees and hears. Learning disabilities are NOT caused by problems with vision or the eyes.


What causes a learning disability?

The cause is often unknown. There are certain risk factors associated with learning disabilities such as prematurity, low birth weight, brain injury or infection, hearing or speech difficulties, and family history of a learning disability.


What are signs that may be seen in child with a learning disability?

  • Trouble learning to read 
  • Does not enjoy reading
  • Trouble with math
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts
  • Struggles with reading comprehension
  • Reversal of letters or words after second grade
  • Behavioral: decreased interest in school, easily frustrated with school or school work, anxiety, depression, acting out at school

These signs are not diagnostic of a learning disability and signs vary based by age and developmental status.


How is a learning disability diagnosed?

Learning disabilities are diagnosed through specialized testing. It is important to discuss concerns with your child’s teacher or pediatrician and ask for referrals to people with appropriate training in the diagnosis of learning disabilities who may include developmental pediatricians, clinical psychologists, or neuropsychologists. Learning disabilities are not diagnosed by eye specialists.


What is the role of an eye exam?

An eye exam is recommended in children who fail vision screening tests, have misaligned eyes, or complain of blurred vision, double vision, eye fatigue, or headaches with reading. Vision issues can interfere with learning, but they do not cause learning disabilities.