A Vision for Success
The first step in solving a problem is identifying that there is a problem to be solved in the first place; without knowing what is wrong, it’s impossible to correct it. This is particularly important when dealing with vision development in school-age children. While many students in K-12 education undergo vision screenings, not all do, and even of those that do, only about 60% of them actually visit an optometrist for more in-depth testing and treatment. So how can we improve these numbers?
For some time now, the Binovi Team has been hard at work working on just that. Last summer, we announced we were planning to expand the Binovi Platform to include the tools needed to bring vision screening and other classroom technology resources to K-12 education in the United States, Canada, and beyond. As part of our Global and Noble initiatives, we’re working to bring truly meaningful and effective vision screening tools to K-12 students to not only improve access to the vision screenings themselves, but also to improve the quality and quantity of the information available to vision care specialists. Part of our goal is also to help drive identified students towards more extensive vision care when it is needed.
Building on the Basics
The American Optometric Association notes that approximately 10% of preschoolers (those aged 3-5) may have a vision issue that goes undetected, whether because children at that age cannot voice their concerns or because the warning signs are missed.
As students get older, vision is even more important, as students rely more heavily on text-based sources —like textbooks and online sources— and go from learning by doing to learning by note-taking. Visual acuity —classic 20/20 vision— plays a part, but overall vision health relies on a more diverse collection of vision skills that can have a profound impact on not only reading ability but on comprehension, attention spans, and overall academic success.
Signs of eye and vision problems
- Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close.
- Tilting their head.
- Covering an eye.
- Frequently rubbing their eyes.
- Short attention span for the child’s age.
- Turning of an eye in or out.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding.
- Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles, and other detailed activities.
Key Vision Skills for K-12 Students
- Visual acuity—the ability to see clearly in the distance for viewing the chalkboard, at an intermediate distance for the computer and up close for reading a book.
- Eye Focusing—the ability to quickly and accurately maintain clear vision as the distance from objects change, such as when looking from the chalkboard to a paper on the desk and back. Eye focusing allows the child to easily maintain clear vision over time like when reading a book or writing a report.
- Eye tracking—the ability to keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another, moving the eyes along a printed page or following a moving object like a thrown ball.
- Eye teaming—the ability to coordinate and use both eyes together when moving the eyes along a printed page, and to be able to judge distances and see depth for classwork and sports.
- Eye-hand coordination—the ability to use visual information to monitor and direct the hands when drawing a picture or trying to hit a ball.
- Visual perception—the ability to organize images on a printed page into letters, words and ideas and to understand and remember what is read.
So, what can be done to ensure that students are suitably prepared? The first step is basic vision screening, sometimes done at schools, to help identify potential issues, followed by comprehensive eye exams by qualified vision care specialists to further diagnose and correct any issues. This is where Binovi comes in, and where we’ve been concentrating our efforts!
In December, we announced the acquisition of VERA, the Visual Efficiency RAting system for school vision screening as the first major step on the road to improved vision screening tools for parents, educators, physicians, and vision care specialists. VERA offers a much-needed, simple, and validated national standard for school vision screening that goes beyond just visual acuity, identifying students with vision difficulties that impact classroom and independent learning, including focusing issues or weaknesses in eye-teaming and eye tracking, among others. VERA provides a clear point of referral for vision care professionals. “We can all look forward to many more students with learning-related vision problems being identified and enjoying the rewards of timely and appropriate interventions,” commented Dr. Stephen Galanter, the founder of VERA.
In addition, earlier this week we announced that we’ve entered into an arms-length agreement with Samurai Computer Aided Vision Therapy, furthering our commitment to continually evolving the Binovi Platform. CAVT is an extensive software package for developing and training the eye-tracking, visual thinking and processing, and binocular vision skills that are so critical for children of all ages that impact key abilities like reading ability and comprehension.
Our goal is to incorporate the technology, expert knowledge, and testing and training protocols perfected over time and present in both VERA and CAVT with the Binovi Platform into a comprehensive and actionable vision screening tool that can be used by anyone. The ultimate objective is to improve the ease of access and availability of vision screening tools to better identify the approximately 25% of people worldwide with an undiagnosed or mis-diagnosed vision issue that goes beyond simple visual acuity. Our hope is that we are able to make effective and widespread improvements in vision skills that help students learn more effectively, athletes compete at a higher level, and seniors maintain their independence longer.
Together, VERA, CAVT, and the Binovi Platform will help direct users towards the vision care they need and help vision care specialists with the tools they need to best diagnose, treat, train, and track their clients throughout their journey to better vision.