Did you know that 80% of a child’s learning is visual? Consider young children. They don’t need to be told “no” to understand that what they’re doing is wrong; a stern look from their mother or father will suffice. As children enter the school system, the demands placed on their visual system only increase. They learn to read, with the text growing smaller and smaller as they progress. This is why children with visual problems like binocular vision dysfunction will soon fall behind their peers if they don’t receive proper treatment.
The Pictorial Superiority Effect
Do you consider yourself a visual or an auditory learner? While some people seem to do better than others with auditory learning, the fact remains that more than 50% of the brain’s power is devoted to translating the images that your eyes see. Humans are inherently visual creatures, with vision trumping all the other senses when it comes to learning. Scientists call this the pictorial superiority effect (PSE).
This is why instructors who use visual aids in their presentations are generally far more effective at getting through to their audiences than those who do not. In one study, researchers asked two groups of students to remember three words: dog, bike, and street. The first group was told to remember the words by repeating them over and over again, while the second group was instructed to visually imagine the words—e.g., by picturing a dog riding a bike on the street. The second group had much better recall than the first.
The Link Between Vision Problems and Poor Academics
When we think of vision, we tend to imagine the classic Snellen chart, which is used to measure visual acuity. People who have trouble reading these letters are generally diagnosed with a refractive error and given prescription eyeglasses or contacts to resolve the issue. But there’s actually a lot more to your vision than your ability to accurately read letters off a chart from a certain distance.
One important aspect of your sight that you might not have heard of before is binocular vision, which refers to your eyes’ ability to coordinate with each other and with your brain. In a person with healthy binocular vision, both eyes move in sync with each other so that one clear picture is sent to your brain. However, people whose binocular vision is compromised are technically seeing two separate images, which the brain rejects, leading to a host of symptoms including eyestrain, migraines and dizziness, trouble focusing, difficulty reading, irritability, and more.
Compounding the problem is that many of the symptoms of binocular vision dysfunction overlap with behavioral problems like ADHD, which causes many children with the former to be misdiagnosed with the latter. As a result, they fail to receive proper treatment, their vision continues to suffer, and they struggle academically.