Skip to main content

August is Children's Vision and Learning Month


A child's vision is assessed during a vision screening at the Eye Care Center, Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University.Did you know that seeing clearly is just one of more than 17 visual skills required for academic success?  A comprehensive eye exam should be on the list of things to do when preparing a child to return to the classroom.

August is International Children's Vision and Learning Month and the doctors at the Eye Care Center, Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University are calling attention to the special free vision screenings available at the facility every Thursday to assess a child's vision.  Throughout the year, vision screenings are available from 3 – 7 p.m., on a walk-in basis or by appointment at 714.992.7870.  The Eye Care Center is located at 2575 Yorba Linda Blvd., Fullerton.

"Vision plays a vital role in learning and it's important that

every child can see clearly so they can perform all their academic tasks; especially, as he or she begins a new school year," said Associate Professor and Assistant Chief, Vision Therapy Services, Carmen Barnhardt, O.D., MS.Ed., Studt Center for Vision Therapy, Eye Care Center, Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University.

"A comprehensive vision exam goes well beyond a typical vision screening and it's important even if your child has passed the vision screening," notes Dr. Barnhardt.  "Many vision problems that interfere with reading and learning can be missed by a routine vision screening.  If your child does poorly on tests or if your child has been diagnosed as ADHD, dyslexic, learning disabled or it looks like your child is just 'lazy' or just not motivated, he or she could have a hidden vision problem."

Eye movement, eye focusing and eye teaming problems as well as visual-motor disorders are rarely detected during regular vision screenings and may even be missed during a routine eye exam.  Yet these visual skills are essential for children to be able to read and comprehend what they are reading.

"The free vision screening offered this month at the Eye Care Center is designed to determine if there are any signs that a vision problem may be interfering with learning," said Dr. Barnhardt.  "Please don't miss this special opportunity."


More About Children's Vision and Learning

Author, Educator, & Expert in Early Learning Success, Dr. Bob Sornson Says “It’s Time to Stop Arguing and Help Our Children!”
Most parents find out their children have vision problems after trying a variety of interventions and searching for help for years.  In many cases parents have already spent thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars trying to help their children with learning by the time they find out that a vision problem is contributing to their difficulties.

“It is our goal to help parents understand that vision problems can interfere with academic success, and they are typically very treatable,” shares Dr. David Damari, President of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, “The most important step is identification.”

“Vision problems are noticeable in the early years of school.  It's much better to be able to notice and treat them in first and second grade. The longer you wait, the more difficult it's going to be to deal with the other factors that have developed,” shares Bob Sornson, Ph.D., and author of “Fanatically Formative” (Corwin Press), “Creating Classrooms Where Teachers Love to Teach and Students Love to Learn” (Love and Logic Press), and the “Essential Skill Inventories, K–3 (Early Learning Foundation).”

“When you take a child who has really struggled to read because of visual issues, the longer that goes on you're no longer dealing with just a vision issue; now you have an attitude problem, a behavior problem, and avoidance issues,” states Dr. Sornson.

Dr. Sornson’s implementation of programs and strategies for early learning success, the Early Learning Success Initiative, serves as a model for school districts around the country. The Early Learning Success model emphasizes formative and systematic assessment of all essential aspects of early learning development, support for students and teachers, and the importance of building positive classroom culture.

More than 20 years ago Dr. Sornson looked very carefully into the research on optometric vision therapy, “to understand what that process was and what was possible. The evidence was just too powerful and overwhelming.  The importance of sensory motor development is not new.  It’s been recognized for thousands of years as an important part of learning and development, and it's supported by everything we know about brain science in the last few decades.  Vision is one important piece of this whole sensory motor, sensory neural sequence that we need to pay attention to.”

While nay-sayers keep demanding more research, Dr. Sornson responds, “We're long past arguing about this. It's the responsibility of every educator to understand that sensory motor and vision development impact young learners.”

The results of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Reading Test show that by 4th grade, 67% of school-age children in the U.S. are not reading at proficient levels.   Dr. Sornson explains, “Vision is one of the crucial early learning issues. It's not the only issue but it's one of the issues.  Just the cost savings which come from dealing with vision issues as a part of the early learning process should be enough reason for schools to learn more about this.  By the beginning of fourth grade in the U.S., two-thirds of our students are non-proficient readers and are predictably unlikely to become successful lifelong learners.  This is an unnecessary tragedy for our nation and for most of these children.”

“There is a long standing body of evidence that shows certain sensory and visual systems have to be well developed before children are going to be truly effective learners,” continues Dr. Sornson, “There's a strong body of evidence that shows that vision therapy is successful at treating vision problems that interfere with reading and academic success, and it’s time to quit arguing about what is now scientifically obvious and help these children.”

Why do vision problems typically go undetected for so long?  “Most eye care practitioners, school nurses and pediatricians use visual acuity (how clearly one can see letters on the eye chart from a distance of 20 feet) as the benchmark for good vision.” Dr. Damari explains, “When in fact seeing clearly is just one of more than 17 visual skills required for academic success.”

About Marshall B. Ketchum University

Established in 1904, the Marshall B. Ketchum University is a private, non-profit, educational institution.  The University confers a four-year, professional degree, Doctor of Optometry (O.D.); a Master of Science in Vision Science (M.S.) degree; and a Master of Medical Sciences (MMS) degree.  The University is also adding the School of Physician Assistant Studies as the first step in the development of an interprofessional healthcare campus.  Marshall B. Ketchum University provides a diversity of healthcare training opportunities in an environment fully focused on medical professionalism, combining advanced clinical training with innovative teaching methods.

The University's superior 109-year-old optometric clinical education program provides patient care experiences in community optometric clinics; exposure to the delivery of optometric care in multi-disciplinary settings; and experiences in practices serving a wide variety of ethnic and socio-economic patient groups.  Marshall B. Ketchum University owns and operates two premier eye and vision care centers¬ – the Eye Care Center located on its campus in Fullerton, CA, and the Optometric Center of Los Angeles located on Broadway at Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Southern California College of Optometry: Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) of the American Optometric Association.

School of Physician Assistant Studies: The University has applied for accreditation pending approval from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and provisional accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on the Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The School of Physician Assistant Studies at Marshall B. Ketchum University anticipates matriculating its first class in August 2014, pending WASC approval and accreditation-provisional from ARC-PA. Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status for a new PA program that has not yet enrolled students, but at the time of its initial accreditation review, has demonstrated its preparedness to initiate a program in accordance with the accreditation Standards.