Form perception is another important visual skill for academic achievement. This
can best be illustrated by referring to Figure #7. The child is shown these
forms one at a time and he is simply asked to copy them. It is amazing to see
some of the distortions that a child will make in attempting to copy these forms.
If a child can't perceive and copy these simple geometric forms, it is
unreasonable to assume that he will be able to perceive the wiggly lines which
make up letters which in turn make up words, which in turn make up sentences
which stand for abstract ideas. We see children often who can't tell the
difference between a square and a rectangle or a circle and an oval. This is
also a skill which can be improved through Vision Therapy.
Attention Span/Span of Perception:
The Span of Perception is also related to success in school. Many children see
just one word at a time with each eye fixation. Reading speed can be improved by learning to see two, three, or more words with each eye fixation. This could be compared to reading through a straw. This is illustrated in Figure #8. It is easy to see the difference in reading for meaning when the span of perception is
Visualization: The ultimate visual skill is visualization. This is similar to being able to see
things in the mind's eye. There are authorities that state that the ability to
visualize is very closely allied to the ability to think. In other words,
thinking is related to the ability to abstract from specifics and the ability to
visualize is deeply involved in this process. Visualization is also a trainable
There are many other visual skills that time and space do not permit me to
mention. However, it is hoped that the reader will realize from the above
discussion that there is a lot more to vision than just 20/20.
Nutrition and Vision
When I see a child with a learning problem, I feel very strongly that there
usually is more than just a single cause. For example, when I find a visual
problem, if I probe a bit further, a nutritional problem will be found as well.
Children often walk into the office eating a candy bar or sipping on a cola or
other soft drink. When they are asked what they had for breakfast, the response
usually falls in the frosted, sugary flake category or the answer is that they
had no breakfast at all.
When I am asked which nutrients are important for optimum visual functioning, I
respond that the same nutrients essential for the rest of the body are the ones
needed for vision. This is because vision does not operate independently of
the rest of the body.
In all cases, a diet of high quality, nutrition-rich, unprocessed foods is important if we are
going to be successful in Vision Therapy. Vision therapy involves a learning process
and, as with any learning process, learning will be maximized if a healthy body
and a healthy mind are brought to the learning task.
Reprinted with permission from The Journal of Applied Nutrition Volume 28,
This complete article may be purchased by writing to College of
Optometrists in Vision Development, 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd., Ste. 310, St. Louis, MO 63141-7851 and requesting the article: Getz, Donald J., O.D., "Vision and Perception Therapy," 1973.
Feingold, Ben F., M.D., Why Your Child Is Hyperactive, Random House, New York,
Lane, Benjamin. O.D., "Myopia," 1976. College of Optometrists in Vision
Ludlam, William, O.D., "Visual Evoked Response," 1974. College of Optometrists
in Vision Development
McDonald, Lawrence W., O.D., "Visual Training," 1962-1963. Optometric Extension
Ott, John. Sc.D., Health and Light, The Effects of Natural and Artificial Light
on Man and Other Living Things, Devin-Adair Co., 1973.
Skeffington, A.M., O.D., Continuous writings, Optometric Extension Program
To locate an eye doctor who provides comprehensive pediatric vision examinations and treatment, including
, request a referral through our Referral Directory: Find a Pediatric Eye Doctor
All other images and text: copyright © 1996- by Rachel Cooper. All rights reserved.