Vision or eyesight

by Yule Heibel on September 24, 2003

An interview with Pat Wyman, a reading specialist, in a recent newsletter about kids and computers. More computers in the classroom are supposed to “solve” major educational problems, but Wyman suggests that there’s a biologically qualitative difference between eyesight and vision, which technology doesn’t (can’t?) address. I’m thinking of this also in relation to Martin Brokenleg and the comments I wrote in presence or numbness 2 days ago. Vision needs a full body sense, not just the disembodied eyeballs virtually attached to technology. Some of Wyman’s points:

1. Learn the difference between “eyesight” and “vision”. Eyesight is the ability to “see” that most children are born with. Vision is the ability to organize, interpret and understand what is seen. Vision is developed and LEARNED like walking and talking. Your children need both good “eyesight” and good “vision” in order to be excellent readers.

2. Don’t assume that 20/20 eyesight means that your children see the printed page or computer screen the same way you do. 20/20 is a distance sight indicator and simply means that your children can see a certain size letter from 20 feet away. It is not at all related to reading at near point. Have each of your children read aloud to you often to insure that what they see on the printed page and computer screen is the same thing you are seeing.

Good vision means that your children use both eyes as a team to track smoothly from line to line, see at far and near, copy from a book to paper, keep letters in proper order and much more. Some children with perfect eyesight still tell me they see letters moving around or jumping. Still others suffer because they reverse the order of the letters that they see. Any weak link in the visual process can affect reading, especially if the visual system is under stress due to excessive computer, TV or hand-held computer use.

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