Research has increasingly shown that vision, a crucial way in which we process the world around us, is much more complex than traditionally understood. Conventional vision examinations do not capture this complexity, and as a result, many problems often remain undetected.
In addition to these undetected problems, the connection between vision and learning is not widely understood. The vast majority of learning relies heavily on a well-developed and diverse set of visual processing skills – examples include reading, copying from the board, or playing games that require hand-eye coordination. Children who struggle with vision problems often exhibit symptoms such as short attention spans, poor coordination, difficulty reading, writing and/or sitting still, which are frequently misdiagnosed due to their similarity to other learning difficulties such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and dyslexia.
Anecdotal evidence from practitioners seeing a relatively rapid increase in vision problems suggests that this is driven by a change in children’s environments. Although the reasons are bound to be multifaceted, a worldwide increase in screen time amongst children raises questions about the extent to which this is a significant cause of poor vision function.
This paper first outlines the basic ‘functional’ vision skills, which are vital for accurate and efficient visual processing but are not measured by conventional vision screening examinations. Two case studies are presented that illustrate how vision dysfunction can manifest itself in student behavior and work. Following this, the relationship between screen time and vision function is explored, using a data set from a behavioral optometry practice based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.