VisionLink – New learning through sight

VisionLink Behavioural Optometrists provide research based treatment for convergence insufficiency, oculomotor dysfunction, spelling and reading problems, dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, Asperger's, Learning Related Vision Disabilities, migraine and brain injuries. We are uniquely positioned to assist Visual Perception through the use of Vision Therapy, Irlen tinted lenses and Cellfield Intervention.

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Resources for teachers

Why Vision is Important to Consider

Vision is an important and necessary process for learning to think, speak, read, write, spell and perform mathematics. Vision is also a large part of perception and can be associated with dyslexia and developmental aphasia (impairment in the ability to communicate).

According to research, as many as 75% of children that are considered learning disabled have clinically significant visual problems. Yet, these children are often labelled as having a specific learning disability before vision is ruled out as a possible contributory factor. Once labelled and eligible for special education services, most of the time good visual skills are not a goal listed on an Individual Education Plans.

This is an area definitely lacking attention in the education sector, which we are hoping this website will aid in remedying.

To see "Identifying Visual Dysfunctions in Primary School Children" Click here

 Symptoms of poor readers Click here

Vision is about more than reading little letters from a chart on the wall.

Unfortunately, parents and educators often incorrectly assume that if a child passes a school vision screening, then there is no vision problem. However, school vision screenings often only test for visual acuity at a distance. In reality, the vision skills needed for successful reading and learning are much more complex. A child who can see the small letters can still have a vision problem.

Vision is a complex process that involves over 20 visual abilities and more than 65% of all the pathways to the brain. One in four children has an undiagnosed vision problem which can interfere with learning and lead to academic and/or behavioral problems. However, it is important to know that these children frequently do not report symptoms because they think everyone sees the same way they do.

When vision problems go undetected, children almost invariably have trouble reading and doing their schoolwork. They often display fatigue, fidgeting, and frustrations in the classroom—traits that can lead to a misdiagnosis of dyslexia or other learning disabilities

Often a child with a vision-based learning problem has excellent verbal skills, causing parents and educators to think the child must be lazy, have ADD/ADHD, or is learning disabled. The possible misdiagnosis can be due to similar symptoms, but the causes are not the same.

Mark Eagle specialises in the examination of children, seeing many in a week, he's good with kids!

Why Visual Motor Integration is so important

Click here to download a .pdf file of Handwriting Difficulties in Primary School Children

1. Free Classroom Resources

Symptom checklist
      Click here to download a PDF of the Vision Link Lifestyle Checklist

Teachers Observations Checklist
       Click here to download a PDF of the Vision Link School Teacher Survey of Observations

NZAO make an eye project
       Click here to download a PDF of how to construct a "Box Eye" that simulates vision

Irlen Dysfunction card for teachers new to Irlen wearing
       Click here to copy and paste onto a card

Educators Find New Hope for Struggling Students
       Click here to read of how American teachers are changing their techniques 

SpotOn4teachers Professional development
       Click here to learn more for your professional development

2. Free School Screenings             'Vision for Learning' 

Optometrists from VisionLink and Visique Shattky on Russell Optometrists have screened nearly 2000 children at 4 Hastings Schools for FREE, thanks to a 'Vision for Learning' local initiative. Five optometrists from VisionLink and Shattky Optometrists did screening procedures. A report card was given to each child to take home with a recommendation for further action if that is necessary.

"We are all exhausted but happy after completing the screenings and although it was a marathon effort, the children were delightful to work with" says Phil Donaldson, Optometrist.

"The teachers were very supportive and we had lots of laughs along the way. Our screening clinic picked up a number of children with vision problems. We will now advise their parents through a vision report that we are providing for each child. This also means peace of mind for those with shows no signs of visual problems."

Some funny comments from the children:

  • "That was awesome"
  • "The 3D fly test was cool"
  • "I had to touch a really big imaginary fly and I don't even like flies"
  • "That was easier than my mum said it would be"
  • "Little bit fun, little bit scary"
  • "That was really really good"

Teacher's comments

  • "It's no surprise to see that particular child in the queue for extra VisionLink tests"
  • "This has been a wonderful opportunity and we are really keen to see the results"


How we decided on the tests we would use? The Optometrists pooled their knowledge and research was done to find the most appropriate tests to do and decide on the appropriate pass/fail criteria. There are many published, peer reviewed, research projects on the topic of School Children's Vision and the untreated Learning Related Visual Disabilities. These underachieving primary school children, in due course will make up a large proportion of the 20% of school leavers who achieve low NCEA scores.


We found that approximately 30–35% of the children are struggling with their vision in class. The figures did not vary much across the deciles, The figures are within the same band as has been published by studies in America, England, Australia, and other regions of New Zealand. Schooling is a highly Visual process and the children of Hawkes Bay are struggling. Contact VisionLink if you would like to make a difference to the children of your school.

3. Free project support for entries into the HB Science and Technology Fair

We are happy to help the youth of the Bay enter into the Fair and so learn about Optics and Vision.
They stand to win significant prize money as well.  Click here for details


2011 Georgia Creagh wins $100

We have a long history of helping students discover Optics We can help with project ideas, design and resources 2011 Georgia Creagh wins $100 for winning the NZ Association of Optometrists (HB Branch) Prize for merit in optics, ophthalmics, neural physiology or similar.

Click here to learn more ofthe details about the Science Fair on the Shattky's webpage.


2009 Rebecca Cherry wins awards for demonstrating vision

The optometrists at Shattkys are happy to help any Hawke's Bay students with science projects that have an optical component to them. Particularly, but not exclusively applicable for science fairs. A model eye has won Rebekah Cherry four prizes in the Hawke's Bay Science and Technology Fair at the Eastern Institute of Technology.

Rebekah, a year 10 pupil at Hastings Girls' High School, made a model to illustrate how the eye operates - and how glasses work. She was interested because some of her friends who also use glasses did not understand how they worked.

Rebekah's project - called 'Eyeball Me', won the University of Otago prize for the best application of scientific method. The prize includes an expenses-paid trip to the university's 'Hands on Science' school in January. She also won the Society of Optometrists award for the best exhibit in optics, ophthalmics or neural physiology, and the Hastings Boys' High School Board award for the exhibit of most potential value as a teaching aid. As well, 'Eyeball Me' was highly commended in the general project section.


"I wanted to show how light enters the eye, and how it is focused on the front and behind the retina. I decided to blow it up and make it bigger, so I used lenses that are six of seven centimetres across, Rebekah said. The lenses were placed in a fish tank filled with fluorescein, a coloured liquid that shows the passage of light through it." she said.

The human eye contains three lenses and so does Rebekah's model. "I used two positive lenses and then added an eye problem. For short sight I added a positive 2.5 lens to bring the focal point forward, and for long sight I used a negative 3.5 lens to move the focal point back. Then I could show how to correct the defects," she said.

"With the positive 2.5 lens I added a negative 2.5 lens, and with the negative 3.5 lens I added a positive 3.5 lens. Then I shone a laser beam through and it shows how light enters the eye." Rebekah said.

Working on the project could lead Rebekah to change her planned career. "My current career path is forensics or pharmacy, but now I might change to optometry," she said.

Mark Eagle of Shattky Optometrists said he was delighted with Rebekah's win and was glad to have been able to support her through the entry process. "It was a pleasure to be involved and Rebekah has a bright future career ahead of her," he said.

Just give us a call and tell us about your idea - we would love to help.

4. Optometry as a Career

The team at Shattky are happy to speak with any students interested in pursuing a career in optometry. Contact the friendly team to find out more.

Tim Eagle with Emma Mackie 

Andrea Kaijser with Rebecca Cherry