College of Optometry

Characteristics of Learning Difficulties


• Slow reading rate • Problems with reasoning and abstract concepts
• Problems understanding what is read • Difficulty recalling arithmetic operations
• Difficulty finding important points or main ideas • Problems remembering math facts
• Confusion of similar words • Confusion or reversal of numbers or math symbols
• Difficulty remembering what is read • Poor organization and management of time
• Frequent spelling errors • Difficulties beginning and sticking with study
• Letter reversals • Poor note-taking and outlining skills
• Overly large handwriting • Por memory for recalling material
• Slow writing rate • Difficulty following directions
• Difficulty with sentence structure or poor grammar • Inability to complete assignments in time allowed


Reading disability is an unexpected difficulty in learning to read despite normal intelligence and the opportunity to learn with competent instruction. It cannot be attributed to general health problems, emotional disturbances or sensory deficits. Generally accepted estimates of its prevalence in school age children range from 3% to 9% but may run as high as 20% to 25%. Reading disability accounts for nearly 75% of referrals for learning disability, which the United States department of Education has estimated that 5% of all school children are referred for learning disabilities.

Among children with reading disability, classroom teachers have reported a relatively high prevalence of the signs of vision disorders including, facial grimacing, squinting, head tilting, eye rubbing and unusually close working distance. If a level of reading success is not achieved, the quality of life for the individual as well as society as a whole is diminished. Self-esteem and peer relationships also are negatively influenced. Personal and financial strains are placed on parental resources and equanimity. It can have a profound and lasting impact on family functions and relationships. This makes reading disability a vital public health issue. The ability to read is crucial to function effectively to any degree in our society. All demographic groups - whether broken down by occupation, ethnic origin, race, gender, and educational level - read to varying degrees for information, political awareness, social development and entertainment. Children who have difficulty learning to read fall behind their peers and do not reach their full social and economic potential. Although reading for meaning may be considered a psycholinguistic achievement of multi-component and highly complex behaviors involving many cognitive processes, the initial phases of reading are visual. The ability to see clearly and comfortably is thus an essential component of the learning process.  Therefore the detection and treatment of uncorrected refractive error, accommodative and vergence dysfunction and ocular motor deficits is critical for successful learning.