August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, and a time to get the kids ready to go back to school. Children need many abilities for scholastic success and good vision is key. During a school day, a child’s eyes are constantly in use.
Getting a comprehensive eye exam before going to school will ensure that kids are heading back into the school year and their best overall eye health for learning. A vision screening is not a comprehensive exam. Up to 75% of small vision screenings miss vision problems. Undetected vision problems are attributed to learning disabilities and ADHD. One in four children have vision problems, if left untreated it can affect learning ability and personality. It has never been more important for children going back to the classroom after nearly a year and a half of remote learning. Kids have dealt with not keeping up and digital eyestrain.
Visual skills every child needs to have for successful learning of the 3Rs and to play school sports. Vision is more than just the ability to see clearly or having 20/20 eyesight. It is also the ability to understand and respond to what they see.
Visual skills every child needs:
- Visual acuity- the sharpness of vision, measured by the ability to discern letters or numbers at a given distance according to a fixed standard.
- Eye focusing- Our eyes have an automatic focusing system which adjusts the lens inside our eye in order to see clearly at all distances.
- Eye tracking-Eye tracking is the process of measuring either the point of gaze (where one is looking) or the motion of an eye relative to the head.
- Eye teaming- Eye teaming, or binocular vision, is a visual efficiency skill that allows both eyes to work together in a precise and coordinated way. Good eye teaming allows sustained, single, and comfortable vision, and is the basis for depth perception.
- Eye-hand coordination- the way that one’s hands and sight work together to be able to do things that require speed and accuracy (such as catching or hitting a ball)
- Visual perception- Visual perception refers to the brain’s ability to make sense of what the eyes see.
Signs a child is having vision problems:
- Complaints of discomfort and fatigue
- Frequent eye rubbing & blinking
- Short attention span or easily distracted
- Avoiding reading or other close activities
- Covering one eye or the other
- Tilting the head to one side
- Holding reading material close to the face
- An eye turning in or out
- Seeing double
- Losing their place when reading
- Difficulty remembering what they have read
- A child who consistently underperforms
- Sitting close to the TV
- Sensitivity to light
- Excessive tearing
The most common vision problems in school-age children is blurry vision or refractive errors.
- Nearsightedness- Nearsightedness (myopia) is a common vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects farther away are blurry.
- Farsightedness- A vision condition in which nearby objects are blurry. Hyperopia is a common vision condition
- Astigmatism- A common imperfection in the eye’s curvature. With astigmatism, the front surface of the eye or the lens, inside the eye, is curved differently in one direction than the other.
The best way to make sure a child has the visual skills needed to excel in and outside of school is to schedule routine comprehensive eye exams, being proactive with eye health by parents can help correct problems early.