Visual Processing

What is a Visual Processing (or Visual Perception) Problem?

Visual processing, or visual perception, is the brain’s ability to analyze and interpret visual information.  Visual processing is important in letter and number recognition, early reading and math skills, handwriting, and the ability to copy and organize written work.

With most children, visual processing develops normally without any special attention or intervention.  In some children, however, the development of visual processing skills does not keep pace with their growth in other areas.  This lag of development can lead to difficulty acquiring a sound foundation in reading, handwriting, and math skills in the early grades.

Problems with visual processing can impact letter, number and early word recognition, math, handwriting, and the ability to copy and organize written work.

Delays in visual processing can be part of a diagnosis called Nonverbal Learning Disability.

Vision therapy for visual processing problems can be very effective. It is most effective with elementary school children as the improvements in visual processing are more likely to transfer to handwriting, copying, math, reading and organizations skills. Verbally gifted children can also benefit from vision therapy when visual processing problems are affecting math, handwriting, and other spatial tasks.

What Types of Visual Processing Problems Can Occur?

Visual processing problems can occur in one or more of the following areas:

  •  Visual  form perception:  the ability to detect likes and differences in shapes, letters, numbers and words.
  • Directionality:  the ability to know left from right, especially as it relates to letters and numbers.
  • Visual memory:  the ability to recall visually presented information.
  • Visual motor integration:  the ability to combine visual information with motor output, also known as eye hand coordination.
  • Visual processing speed: The ability to process visual information quickly and accurately

What Are the Signs of a Visual Processing Problem?

  •  Reversals of letters, numbers or words
  • Sloppy handwriting, poor spacing of letters, can’t stay on a line
  • Difficulty copying from the board
  • Doesn’t  complete tests or written work
  • Poorly organized written work
  • Overwhelmed with crowded pages or worksheets
  • Difficulty with scantron answer sheets
  • Responds better verbally (especially with spelling words)
  • Poor fine or gross motor skills
  • Confusion of similar words when reading
  • Poor retention of visual material (sight words)
  • Poor attention during visual tasks
  • Better auditory learner


  • Success Stories

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    Josh struggled academically until vision therapy. He has excelled in college as a 4.0 student.
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  • Concussion and Vision Problems

    photo of dr gallaway Visions problems are very common after concussion. A recent study that Dr. Gallaway was part of revealed that 50% of adolescents with concussions had problems with eye teaming, focusing and tracking that made returning to school and sports more difficult. Learn more >
  • Is Your Child Struggling?

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  • Concussion and Vision Interview with Dr. Gallaway

    photo of dr gallaway Dr. Gallaway was interviewed at the Southeastern Congress of Optometry where he presented about his research into concussion and vision problems.
  • Michael Gallaway, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO | 825 Rt. 73 North, Suite A| Marlton, NJ 08053| 856-988-0080