Healthy eyes and good vision are essential for your child’s growth and development. In fact, learning is 80% visual, which means a child’s success in school, athletics and many other aspects of life can be impacted by poor vision. Good vision also includes a number of other skills, such as visual processing and eye movement abilities.
Often times vision deficiencies are at the root of learning problems and behavioral issues and may unfortunately go unchecked and misdiagnosed. Remember, if your child is having trouble in school, an eye exam and a pair of prescription glasses might be a solution, yet many people fail to check that first.
It is common for children to think that their vision deficiency is normal, and therefore they often won’t report it to parents or teachers. That is why it is even more important to know what to look for. Here are some signs that your child may have a vision problem:
- Squinting or blinking often
- Eye rubbing
- Tilting the head to the side
- Covering one eye
- One eye that turns out or in
- Reporting double vision
- Holding books or reading materials very close to the face
- Complaining of headaches or eye fatigue
- Short attention span
- Difficulty reading
- Losing their place frequently when reading
- Avoiding reading or any activity that requires close work
- Problems with reading comprehension or recall
- Behavioral issues that stem from frustration and/or boredom
- Poor performance and achievement in school or athletics
- Working twice as hard to achieve minimal performance in school
Many parents and teachers think that a school vision screening is sufficient to assess a child’s vision, and if that test comes back okay, they believe there is no vision problem. This however, might be far from the case. A school vision test may only assesses visual acuity for distance vision. Even a child with 20/20 vision can have significant vision problems which prevent them from seeing, reading and processing visual information.
Every child of school age should have comprehensive eye exams on a regular, yearly basis to assess their eye health, and ensure that any issues are addressed as soon as possible. It’s also important to have an exam prior to entering kindergarten, as undetected lazy eye may be more complicated to treat past seven years of age.
Some of the issues the eye doctor may look for, in addition to good visual acuity, are the ability to focus, eye teaming and tracking, visual perception, hand-eye coordination, depth perception and peripheral vision. They will also assess the health of the eye and look for any underlying conditions that may be impairing vision. The eye doctor may recommend eyeglasses, contact lenses ,vision therapy, or medical treatment to correct the issue.
During the school years, a child’s vision may continue to change, so it is important to continually check your child’s vision. If you have a family history of vision problems, follow-ups are even more important. Progressive conditions like myopia, strabismus (crossed eyes), amblyopia (lazy eye) or astigmatism can be addressed and monitored with early intervention.
Make sure that your child has the best possible chances for success in school, and add a comprehensive eye exam to your back to school to-do list.