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Can Good Eyesight Lead to Better Grades?

Michigan Eye Consultants recommends children to have annual eye exams. Our comprehensive children eye exams include:

  1. Refraction -- helping your child achieve the best vision

  2. Binocular vision testing -- ensuring your child's eyes are working together and improving his eye-hand coordination

  3. Color vision testing -- making sure your child is seeing the colors as they are

  4. Eye health examination -- establishing your child's baseline eye health, detect and treat any potential eye health problems

At the end of the exam, we also provide you with a vision exam report that you can share with your child's school and health care team. We are committed to improve your child's academic and athletic growth, and are always adapting new protocols to create a better exam for you and your children. We recommend annual eye exams for your child.

Recently our team reviewed a study, "Does Better Coordination = Better Academic Performance?" published by the American Optometric Association. It was determined that good eye-hand coordination (also called interceptive timing) can predict how well a child may do in mathematics and overall academic performance.

Early and regular eye exams performed by an optometrist are extremely important for children; school vision tests do not provide a complete picture of a child's eye health, and early detection can help your child's future.

Vision is involved in all aspects of development, starting from birth. A child's vision is used as a marker by professionals outside the eye care field to determine if developmental milestones are being met.


Does Better Coordination = Better Academic Performance?

4-6 minutes

Does better coordination = better academic performance?

One of the fundamental milestones in children's development is "interceptive timing." This can enable them to make the sensorimotor connection between seeing a ball thrown to them and catching it, or hitting a pitched ball with a bat.

"Vision is involved in the entire developmental process from birth onward."

However, according to the authors of a Leeds University-led study, making that contact may have other benefits. The study, "Hitting the Target: Mathematical Attainment in Children is Related to Interceptive-Timing Ability," was published in July 2018 in Psychological Science and links that timing to academic performance, underscoring the roles eye care and vision health have in childhood development.

"The interceptive-timing skills of humans are a testimony to the incredible learning capacity of the sensorimotor system and its ability to overcome the challenges involved in controlling over 600 muscles with the inherent difficulties of nonlinearity, nonstationary, information delays, and noise while operating within an uncertain world," the researchers wrote.

Sight (spatial ability, for instance) provides a significant amount of that sensory input. In their study, researchers gave about 300 primary school students, ages 5-11 years, a series of computer-based tasks to complete: steering, aiming and tracking. Their mathematic scores were gleaned from a national standardized math test.

Their findings: Early sensorimotor encounters by children with their environment may impact children's academic performance, in particular math compared to reading and writing.

"This study demonstrates for the first time that interceptive-timing ability can predict mathematical performance in primary school children," the authors wrote.

The role of optometry

For Glen Steele, O.D., the study underscores optometry's essentialness by recognizing that:

  • Vision is involved in the entire developmental process from birth onward.

  • Professionals outside the eye care fields utilize children's vision as a marker for meeting developmental milestones.

Dr. Steele, past chair of the AOA's InfantSEE® and Children's Vision Committee and professor of pediatric optometry at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, says the study also bears out the pivotal role optometry can have on children's development.

"This study is supportive of the need for early assessment of all facets of comprehensive eye care, especially eye-hand coordination," Dr. Steele says. "When areas such as eye-hand coordination or depth perception are neglected until the child is determined to be 'clumsy," it takes more in-depth management to resolve.

"This study utilizes specific eye-hand coordination tasks and links it to future abilities in math," he adds. "This is an area in which optometrists can provide early identification and intervention. I would encourage doctors of optometry to look early and look often to ensure that eye-hand coordination abilities are developing age-appropriately. Questions concerning eye-hand coordination should be asked of the parent at every visit. If it is not developing appropriately, optometric interventions such as vision therapy could be a management option."

David Redman, O.D., AOA's 2018 Optometrist of the Year, has been a leader in advocating for access to schoolchildren in California where he practices. The findings in the study can potentially change lives, Dr. Redman says.

"The significance of the study is that it is potentially predictive of ability," Dr. Reman says. "If you can train or improve interceptive timing, then perhaps you could improve a child's ability to be successful in school. At minimum, you may be able to figure out which kids may need more assistance in school.

"Anything we can do to improve future outcomes is in the best interest of the child," he adds. "If you can improve interceptive timing in a child, it may completely change their whole life. Just as we do with glasses and binocular training, we always strive to help improve a child's future by early intervention. For doctors of optometry, cognitive testing may be a useful tool to help children succeed in school. It could be incorporated into our binocular vision training."

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