Proficient math skills are a necessity of everyday life and an essential part of any child’s development. Without good basic math skills adult life has the potential to be more difficult than it needs to be. Unfortunately, the percentage of people with lower than average math skills is very high in the United States and this has recently been connected to vision problems.
Most of the vision problems associated with poor math skills are often undetectable when using routine vision screenings. The American Optometric Association says that nearly 25 percent of children have vision problems that are undetected and these include amblyopia (lazy eye), eye teaming, poor depth perception and convergence insufficiency.
How Does Poor Vision Affect Math Skills?
When a child has poor vision, he or she might have difficulty in seeing the numbers clearly. They might not be able to distinguish between decimal points and symbols used in math. Moreover, one of the most important skills in math is to organize numbers and letters in a certain way. If a child’s vision is poor, they can have problems keeping these numbers and letters in the correct place.
Furthermore, directionality and laterality are also very important concepts when doing math. If the child can’t see the number’s orientation clearly, they will have more difficulty than a child who can.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that a child won’t be any good at math, however it has been found that those that lack the necessary vision skills take a lot longer to find the answer to a math problem and this hinders them during timed tests.
What Do the Professionals Say?
Connecting vision and learning difficulties has become a popular area of study for researchers and specialists in the field. Dr. Burkhart Fischer and Dr. Klaus Hartnegg from the University of Freiburg claim that binocular instability is a major factor in dyslexia.
They went on to say that regular eye exercises can help to improve binocular fixation by more than 50% and therefore help children to increase visual processing.This increase can make it easier for children to identify sequences of letters and numbers and therefore help with common tasks such as reading and simple arithmetic.
Moreover, a basic skill of counting is called subitizing. In the peer-reviewed journal Optometry & Vision Development, Dr. Grooman states that this basic skill of calculating and estimating is essential for counting.
If somebody can’t see clearly, they will have difficulty in with subitizing and therefore simple tasks such as counting will become even more difficult. By improving vision skills, subitizing will improve and consequently counting will improve.
How Can Vision Therapy Help?
Now that it’s known that poor vision has been associated with math problems, this article is going to focus on improving eyesight with vision therapy. These exercises are mainly focused towards children, but adults will be able to get some benefit from them too.
Amblyopia is known as a lazy eye and it can be treated with exercises if you catch it early enough. First of all, the lazy eye is weaker than the other stronger eye. Therefore, put a patch over the stronger eye to ensure that the weaker one is being used all of the time. This will force the eye to get stronger because it’s relied upon for vision.
When the patch is on, undertake activities that involve a need for good vision. This could include simple sports like throwing a ball, or it could even include arts and crafts. This will force the eye to focus on various colors, shapes and moving objects meaning that it will become stronger the more it is exercised.
Eye teaming is where the two eyes team up and work together so that they work as a single entity and not 2 separate things.
The best practice for teaming up your eyes is to force yourself to cross the eyes. Put your finger up at arms-length and focus on the finger whilst slowly moving it towards the center of your eyes. Then look away and focus on something far away. Repeat this process for a few minutes or until your eyes free strained.
Once you have done this, you could download and print some 3-D photographs known as stereopsis! There are two images that are very similar, when you look at them with cross eyes and force yourself to see one image, it will appear 3-D! This is great for kids and adults alike!
Depth perception is where your eyes calculate how far away an object is and there are many exercises that can help. A good and fun exercise for children can involve a brightly colored moving object. Attach a beach ball to some string and then hang it around two to three feet from the ceiling.
Then hit the ball in the same direction and keep your focus on it. The beach ball will be moving from left to right and closer and further at the same time. This will help children to improve their depth perception and it can be pretty fun at the same time!
Convergence insufficiency is the weakness of the muscles that co-ordinate the eye at close distance. Therefore, you’ll need an exercise that strengthens these muscles.
Hold a pen at arms-length and keep your head straight at all times. Focus on the tip of the pen and slowly move it towards your nose. As you get closer, the pen will double (you’ll see two pens). At this point, stop moving the pen and try to focus on it so that you only see one pen again. Again, repeat this exercise for a few minutes or until your eyes feel strained.
Vision therapy won’t just help improve vision related problems, it may also help your eyes to stay in better shape for longer.
Moreover, you should consider taking vitamin and mineral supplements. Just like the rest of your body, your eyes could really benefit from getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals.
By giving your child some fun exercises to do and ensuring that they get all the vitamins and minerals they need, you could see their math skills improve and they’ll soon be bringing home report cards that you can be proud of!