Vision and Learning

August is Vision and Learning month! As we prepare for back to school, make sure you get your child’s eyes checked. Experts say that approximately 80% of what a child learns in school is information that is presented visually. Good vision is essential for students of all ages to reach their full academic potential.

Vision is a complex process that involves both the eyes and brain. Specific learning-related vision problems can be classified as one of three types. The first two types involve visual input. The third involves how a child processes and integrates visual information.

Eye health and refractive problems can affect the visual acuity in each eye as measured by an eye chart. Refractive errors include nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism and are easily correctable with glasses or contact lenses. Eye health problems can cause low vision — permanently decreased visual acuity that cannot be corrected by conventional eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.

Functional vision refers to a variety of specific functions of the eye and the neurological control of these functions, such as eye teaming (binocularity), fine eye movements (important for efficient reading), and accommodation (focusing amplitude, accuracy and flexibility). Lack of functional visual skills can cause blurred or double vision, eye strain and headaches that can affect learning. Convergence insufficiency is the most commonly encountered functional vision problem that affects the ability of the two eyes to stay accurately and comfortably aligned during reading.

Visual perception includes understanding what you see, identifying it, judging its importance and relating it to previously stored information in the brain. This means, for example, recognizing words that you have seen previously, and using the eyes and brain to form a mental picture of the words you see.

Symptoms of learning-related vision problems include:

  • Headaches or eye strain

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Crossed eyes or eyes that appear to move independently of each other

  • Avoidance of reading and close work

  • Short attention span during visual tasks

  • Turning or tilting the head to use one eye only, or closing or covering one eye

  • Placing the head very close to a book or desk when reading or writing

  • Excessive blinking or eye rubbing

  • Losing place while reading, or using a finger as a guide

  • Slow reading speed or poor reading comprehension

  • Difficulty remembering what was read

  • Omitting or repeating words, or confusing similar words

  • Persistent reversal of words or letters (after age 7)

  • Difficulty remembering, identifying or reproducing shapes

  • Poor hand-eye coordination

  • Evidence of developmental immaturity

Issues with poor visual acuity can be easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses, while issues with functional vision and visual perception can be treated with vision therapy. Children who grow up with undiagnosed vision problems are often unaware that what they see is abnormal, meaning they don’t know to ask for help. Children with vision problems can be misdiagnosed with ADD /ADHD because they skip lines, have poor reading comprehension, take longer than average to complete homework, and have a shorter attention span. The yearly Vision & Learning Month campaign encourages parents to take their children in for a comprehensive vision exam every year. School screenings provide less than 4% of the eye tests needed to help diagnose vision problems spanning all three categories, and miss up to 75% of children with vision problems. Children with vision problems that are not diagnosed and treated may struggle in school and often go on to be adults with the same vision problems. To find a developmental optometrist near you and schedule an eye exam, visit, and click here for a vision therapy success story!

Sarah Blackwelder, OD

OCOS Public Relations





Danny ngo

OCOS Spotlight: Danny Ngo shows why he is a COA Young OD of the Year!

The COA Young Optometrist of the Year is awarded to doctors who show remarkable leadership skills when serving their profession, patients, and their community. Our very own OCOS doctor and board member, Danny Ngo, was recently awarded this prestigious honor. Dr. Ngo is currently serving as the Chief of Service at Kaiser Permanente in Baldwin Park. He is a past president of the OCOS and currently serves on the OCOS board as part of the public relations committee. He is also dedicated to giving back to the community through volunteer optometry with One Sight Optometry Clinic and the Lions Club. Dr. Ngo is an active advocate for the profession of optometry and participates in COA House of Delegates as well as COA Legislative Day. Here, Dr. Ngo speaks on his involvement in the local and state associations, as well as his passion for myopia control.


Why do you think it is important to get involved in your local/state association?

Optometry is changing rapidly and it is important to stay involved to protect the profession. There is strength in numbers and you risk the demise of optometry if you sit idle on the sidelines. Organized optometry has seen a tremendous change in scope in the last 15 years including the ability to treat glaucoma and perform non-invasive procedures. I believe that optometrists are the primary gate-keepers and will continue to provide more and more medical exams. Patients should only be referred to ophthalmology for ocular surgery. Who knows, we might even perform surgical procedures in the future as the need for eye care continues to rise. Optometry is in a very exciting place so join your local society and be involved in the fun!

Can you provide us with a memorable patient?

I have recently developed a passion for myopia control. Pathological myopia is truly an epidemic and needs our immediate attention. In China and Korea, over 90% of children are myopic. In America, we are approaching 50%. Currently at Kaiser, we are prescribing atropine, bifocals, and/or ortho-k lenses. It is a relatively new service for us and I am starting to see returning patients. My most memorable patient so far is a child who wears CRT lenses nightly. He showed myopia progression of -0.50 to -1.00 diopters every year until his first full year of CRT use. He was excited to be able to see clearly throughout the day without any correction, played sports, and had a huge smile on his face. His mom was also happy that we stopped his myopia progression. In fact his mom was so happy with his outcome that she decided to get ortho K herself!

Check out Dr. Ngo’s contribution to educating parents on the importance of pediatric eye exams at




Sarah Blackwelder, OD

OCOS Public Relations


May is Healthy Vision Month!

Every May, the National Eye Institute (NEI) encourages Americans to make their eye health a priority and informs them about steps they can take to protect their vision. As optometrists, we help the NEI spread the word about steps patients can take to make their vision last a lifetime during each exam! Some of the ways you can take care of your vision include yearly eye exams with dilation, wearing sunglasses to protect from UV rays, using protective eyewear, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. One of the biggest lifestyle factors that can affect your vision is tobacco use. The World Health Organization recognizes May 31 as World No Tobacco Day. This May, make sure you’re aware how smoking affects your health and those around you!

Most people know that smoking increases their risks for heart disease and lung cancer, but did you know that smoking could lead to vision loss? Studies show smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye syndrome. Studies show that patients who smoke face the following risks:

  • Three to four times more likely to develop macular degeneration than non-smokers.

  • Three times the risk of developing cataracts than non-smokers.

  • Twice as likely to experience dry eye than non-smokers.

  • At higher risk for getting diabetes and diabetic complications including retinopathy, heart disease, stroke, vascular disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, foot problems, and many others.

Not only are you at higher risk for systemic and ocular complications stemming from tobacco smoking, but those around you are at higher risk as well. Nonsmokers living with smokers almost double their risk of developing macular degeneration. In addition to increasing risk for eye diseases, second hand smoke can cause lung cancer and even has been linked to depression.

Are you ready to quit smoking? Visit to find tools and tips on how to quit smoking. Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapies like chewing gum and transdermal patches that deliver a controlled dose of nicotine to relieve withdrawal symptoms while you try to quit, and medications including Chantix® and Zyban® that are FDA-approved non-nicotine medications that have helped people quit smoking.

And if you or a family member smoke, please make sure you schedule an annual eye exam  to check for any complications.


Sarah Blackwelder, OD

OCOS Public Relations







OCOS Doctor Spotlight – Dr. Reena Patel

One of our very own, Dr. Reena Patel, was recently featured in articles by the American Optometric Association and California Optometric Association highlighting her passion for pediatric eye care and her involvement in the promotion of comprehensive pediatric eye examinations in the California legislature. Dr. Patel was also awarded the Dr. W. David Sullins Jr. InfantSEE Award for her efforts towards the InfantSEE program. She discusses the workshops she designed to give clinicians a hands-on learning experience on infant exams, how her passion for pediatric eye care has fueled her advocacy for children’s vision, and how she is ensuring the reinforcement of quality pediatric vision care by teaching at MBKU/SCCO and educating future eye care practitioners.


Q. Can you provide us with the story of a particularly memorable patient?

Through the InfantSEE program, I have diagnosed two cases of retinoblastoma (cancer in the eye). While both were very heart breaking situations, we were extremely lucky to have caught these conditions early enough for the infants to have the opportunity to get treatment to not just save their lives, but potentially their vision as well. If the conditions had gone undetected, the outcome would certainly not have been as positive. I am very grateful the parents heard about the InfantSEE program and brought their babies in for what turned out to be life changing eye examinations.

Q. What is the best way for a member of OCOS to support your work with pediatric patients?

We all know that children are the future and it is our responsibility to provide them with the eye care they need to succeed in school and life. I encourage every single optometrist to be a champion for children’s vision and to educate their patients about the importance of eye examinations for children. If you are not comfortable examining pediatric patients yourself, please refers to your colleagues who specialize in pediatrics. In addition, I challenge you to spread the word about the InfantSEE program, which provides infants between 6-12 months of age with a no-cost baseline comprehensive eye examination. By doing so, I guarantee you will be making an incredible difference in the lives of children.

Find out more information about InfantSEE.

Watch Dr. Patel’s acceptance speech for the Dr. W. David Sullins Jr. InfantSEE Award.

Terra Rey, OD
OCOS Public Relations