Visual perception involves gathering of visual information from the environment and integrating that information with our own senses. It is recognizing and organizing what is seen in the surrounding and integrating it with our past experiences and other senses like hearing, touching, smelling, balance, movement, and with higher cognitive functions like memory and problem solving, so that we can get meaning and make sense of the experience. It basically refers the the brain’s ability to make sense of what the eyes see.
85% of classroom learning come through the visual system. Visual perceptual processing is critical to learning. Good visual perceptual skills are essential for reading, writing, completing math problems, as well as many other skills like giving or getting directions, copying from the board or from a book, visualizing objects or past experiences, remembering things visually, having good eye-and coordination, integrating visual information with our other senses to do things like ride a bike, play ball, or hear a sound and be able to visually recognize where it is coming from (like a fire engine), just to name a few. A child with visual perceptual difficulties may be able to easily read an eye chart (acuity) but have difficulty organizing and making sense of visual information. In fact, many children with visual processing disorders have good acuity (i.e., 20/20 vision).
Visual perceptual skills are developed and learned over time, just like learning to walk and talk. It starts from birth and continues throughout life. If these skills are not developed well, this can lead to potential learning and reading problems down the road.
Some of the signs and symptoms are:
- Tire easily.
- Squint, rub, or have watery eyes while reading/writing/copying from the board.
- Lose his/her place when reading.
- Complain of double vision and headaches.
- Have crossed or drifting eyes past six months of age.
- Have difficulty moving eyes together or individually.
- Omit, substitute, repeat, or confuse similar words.
- Have difficulty with sizing, spacing, or copying written words.
- Confuse left/right directions, reversing letters and numbers.
- Have poor posture during writing/reading assignments
- Have eye-hand coordination problems (e.g., shoe tying, buttons, participating in sports activities).
If you observe one or more of the symptoms above from your child, make an appointment for your child with our optometrist who has specialized training in assessing children with visual perception problems. Ninety percent of individuals who have difficulties with their visual skills are never diagnosed! Our optometrist conducts an evaluation to figure out whether glasses, vision therapy, and/or an occupational therapy referral are necessary for the child to meet academic success.