Ask Dr. B: Can Visual Skills Affect Math Performance

My daughter just had academic testing done. She is in 2nd grade.  She is a great reader and has no problem writing.  Her struggle is with visual perception and long term retrieval.  She has difficulty with math; specifically with shapes, graphs and tables.  She does not seem to understand or can not see the relevance to the math problems presented.   Can you tell me if you have heard of this math issue having to do with a vision problem?

Well, without being too technical, math does involve complex visual perceptual skill. It is certainly possible that a challenge in specific visual processing can result in difficulty with math. The relationships that are involved in math are typically rooted in tangible concepts that are readily processed visually.  (Here is a simple example). This can even be the case even if your daughter is a good reader – it is also possible that her language verbal skills are so very high that they compensate for visual difficulty, or that the visual processes may not be the same used primarily in reading.

Has your daughter and a complete vision evaluation? I would start there, followed by an optometric visual information processing evaluation. After these are completed, it would be possible to tell you if  some form of intervention (glasses, contact lenses, vision therapy)  may benefit her.

And, of course, she should continue to receive the needed instruction and any tutoring/remediation/addition instruction that is appropriate.

I hope this information has been helpful. If you have further questions, you can call the office at 813-792-0637 or email me directly.

Be Well!

Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

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