Don't Leave Your Child's Vision Behind

Chicago, Illinois: As school starts across the United States, the pressure is back on teachers, parents and students to meet or surpass the requirements set forth by the No Child Left Behind act. However, most parents and teachers are unwittingly being tackled by leaving their students' vision behind.
"In football you know when you are being tackled, but unfortunately it is more subtle for parents and educators," Larry Fitzgerald states, "When a student passes a vision screening everyone assumes their vision is fine and the door is closed on the possibility that a correctable vision disorder is contributing to the student's difficulty with reading. Yet the majority of vision screenings don't test how well, or how long, the student can see clearly at reading distance."
As we enter the 15th year of observing August as National Children's Vision and Learning Month, Larry Fitzgerald joins the campaign again this year to help set the record straight on the critical link between vision and learning.  "The purpose of this observance is to make sure everyone knows that there are 17 visual skills required for academic success and seeing 20/20 is just one of those visual skills," Fitzgerald states.
"I was one of those students who didn't have all the visual skills required for learning. But I was fortunate that my vision problems were caught early in life," shares Fitzgerald.   Fitzgerald, who turns 27 on August 31st, is continuing his education through the University of Phoenix as a communications major. 
Fitzgerald had a vision problem that was making it difficult to pay attention in school and his grandfather, Dr. Robert Johnson, a pioneering developmental optometrist in Chicago, Illinois, diagnosed the vision problem. Dr. Johnson, co-founder of Plano Child Development Center, prescribed the appropriate treatment, optometric vision therapy.
Dr. Stephanie Johnson-Brown, Fitzgerald's aunt supervised his vision therapy program. Dr. Johnson-Brown is currently the executive director of the Plano Child Development Center, a not-for-profit vision care service corporation. The center specializes in vision education and the identification and remediation of vision development problems in children and adults.
Fitzgerald credits the optometric vision therapy he received as a child as one of the keys to his success. Because children don't know how they are supposed to see and rarely complain, this past March, Fitzgerald made sure his 2-year-old son, Devin's vision was developing properly, by having his aunt do a thorough vision evaluation. Dr. Johnson-Brown was pleased to report all is well.

Optometric vision therapy treats vision problems that make reading and learning difficult. While vision therapy does not treat dyslexia, vision problems can often be misdiagnosed as learning disabilities such as dyslexia or even ADHD. According to the American Optometric Association studies indicate that 60 percent of children identified as problem learners actually suffer from undetected vision problems and in some cases have been inaccurately diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Even though there is a wealth of optometric research which proves vision therapy works, there is false or misleading information in the medical community about vision therapy. This can be confusing for parents, especially when it comes from their child's pediatrician.   Dr. Joseph Manley, a physician and medical expert witness for medico--legal cases, states, "The conclusions (particularly the failure to recommend vision therapy for children likely to benefit from it) of the American Academy of Pediatrics report on Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and Vision are based on exclusion of the most relevant data and inconsistent application of the Academy's stated criteria for selecting evidence.  They fail to acknowledge abundant published and anecdotal evidence supporting the use of vision therapy.  This overlooked evidence includes controlled trials, observational studies, case reports and consensus of experts - the same kinds of data that underpin the daily practice of medical professionals."
The five most common signs that a vision problem may be interfering with your student's ability to read and learn are:
1. Skips lines, rereads lines
2. Poor reading comprehension
3. Takes much longer doing homework than it should take
4. Reverses letters like "b" into "d" when reading
5. Has a short attention span with reading and schoolwork
Any one of these symptoms is a sign of a possible vision problem. A more in-depth symptoms checklist is available at and website.
"Vision therapy made a big difference in my life and my career," shares Fitzgerald; "It is my hope that parents will take the time to learn more about how vision problems can interfere with success in school and in sports."
All-Pro Arizona Cardinals' Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald Celebrates August as National Children's Vision and Learning Month