Every August parents and children go through the familiar routine of preparing for the brand new school year. They take their school’s checklist to Wal-Mart, Target, etc. and triple check that all the necessary school supplies such as paper, pencils, and books are accounted for to ensure a successful academic year. Often left off the list, although it is the most important item, is to schedule your child an eye exam to make sure that he/she is visually ready to learn.
Fact: Over 80% of what a child is taught is learned visually.
An excess of 10 million children will begin this school year with an undetected vision problem that will interfere with learning. Even though there may be other causes for a child to not performing to his/her full potential academically, it is clear that vision has a significant impact on how well and how quickly a child learns. It is a standard recommendation by all eye care professionals that a child should have their first comprehensive eye examination between 6 months to 1 year of age. Subsequent examinations should occur by age 3, at age 5 (before entering preschool), and at least every two years from age 6 to 18. If eye health or vision problems are detected during any of these examinations the doctor will recommend the appropriate follow up and treatment to prevent the the problem from progressing.
Less than 50% of school aged children have had a comprehensive eye exam in the past year. Just over 40% of parents are convinced that the school vision screening is sufficient in detecting vision problems that may reduce a child’s ability to learn. School vision screenings conducted by a school nurse only pick up distance vision issues. Even vision screening tests performed in the pediatrician’s office are limited in scope. Both of these types of screenings miss over 95% of all vision problems that can adversely affect eye health and inhibit a child’s academic performance. Parents and teachers need to be proactive in their efforts to detect vision problems before they can negatively impact a child’s learning potential.
Being observant is also very important to recognize the following signs of possible vision problems:
1. Squinting, closing or covering one eye, tilting head to one side.
2. Holding reading material very close to face
3. Losing place while reading or using finger as place mark while reading
4. Headache, nausea or dizziness, eye rubbing5. Performance below potential
6. Short attention or inability to stay on task
By Dr. Ted Watson
The Digital Doc
Eye Doctor | Greenville
Doctors Vision Center