Back to School Routine Should Include Eye Exam
If you are a parent of a school-age child, you may be wondering whether your child has a problem with their vision or should have an eye exam. It is very important that children have eye exams, especially because it is known that up to 10 percent of pre-schoolers and 25 percent of older children of school age have problems with their vision. Identifying these children early is critical because their eyes are more easily treated with vision problems if spotted early.
Vision Affects Learning
Poor vision affects learning directly. If your child has problems focusing or has cloudy vision, their attention and learning can be affected. According to the American Optometry Association (AOA), an estimated 60 percent of child learning disabilities are due to vision problems. In fact, some parents take their child who has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD to have an eye exam for this reason.
Eye problems can affect not only learning and behavior, but certain vision problems can even alter a child's neurological and physical development. One example is "strabismus", commonly known as "crossed eyes". This can be caused by eye muscle imbalances that can lead to amblyopia or "lazy eye". This is a situation in which the brain partially blocks vision from one eye so that double-vision is prevented. Permanent vision loss can be the result if this type of problem goes untreated.
Physical abilities like athletic performance can also be affected by vision loss. Eye muscle imbalances or vision disturbances may affect depth perception, resulting in clumsy movements like tripping and inadequate hand-eye coordination.
Eye Exams Should Be Basic Care For Your Child
Fortunately, the majority of childhood eye problems can be effectively treated or corrected if caught early. A comprehensive eye examination is the most effective way to diagnose and identify these types of vision problems before they become serious. Sadly, too many children are not receiving early eye exams as part of their routine care.
One common reason parents fail to get eye exams for their children is that they view eye doctors as someone to be contacted only when there is an obvious problem. The difficulty with this practice is that often by the time problems are noticed, the child is likely having difficulties like learning and behavior problems, headaches, or worse. Just by having your child undergo regular eye exams, you can prevent many of these problems before they cause significant harm. This is why it is so important that you consider eye exams as part of your child's normal healthcare routine.
The AOA recommends that infants undergo their first eye exam at the age of 6 months. They should then have follow up exams upon their 3rd birthday and right before entering the first grade. Most children are about age 5 or 6 at this time.
For children of school age, the AOA has recommended they get an eye exam every other year if no corrective vision steps are needed. Children needing contact lenses or eyeglasses require an annual eye examination.
Early eye examinations for children are critical because they need these general vision skills in order to learn:
- Near vision
- Distance vision
- Binocular coordination (coordination between the two eyes)
- Hand-eye coordination
- Focusing skills
- Eye movement skills
Even Kids Passing Vision Screenings Need Eye Exams
Some parents become complacent about their child's vision based upon their passing a vision screening at school. What they do not realize is that one out of three screenings miss eye problems. This is because a quick eye screening and a comprehensive eye exam are two different things.
Screenings last only about five minutes, while a comprehensive eye exam is just that -- comprehensive and lasting from 30 to 60 minutes. They are much more thorough than simple eye screenings that only catch obvious problems.
Schedule An Eye Exam Today
If you have not done so already, be sure to call The Vision Centers to schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your child before they start school if possible. Choose a time when they are normally alert and happy.
Make sure you mention if your child has any of the following behaviors:
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Excessive blinking
- Poor eye tracking skills
- Inability maintain focus when looking at an object
Keep in mind that proper vision testing is critical to ensure your child has the visual ability to learn and perform well at their school assignments. Early diagnosis is absolutely vital in keeping problems from affecting their school work and early development.