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Don’t Skip the Back-to-School Eye Exam

August 15, 2023

Vision issues can impact every aspect of a child’s development, from their performance in the classroom to athletics, hobbies, and even self-esteem. As a parent, especially of a younger child, it can be difficult to know when your child is experiencing vision problems, which is why scheduling a back-to-school eye exam should be at the top of your list.

Vision Skills Are Crucial for Healthy Development
Children may not realize that their vision isn’t perfect, but it can impact so many critical skills that factor into healthy development, such as:

●       Eye Focusing: A child’s ability to quickly focus on an object from a distance and maintain clear vision as they approach it will harm their capacity to shift their eyes from their desk or book to the chalkboard and teacher. Visual focusing issues impact mental focus and comprehension.
●       Visual acuity: Not being able to see clearly from a distance will make understanding the information a teacher is presenting more difficult. Intermediate acuity issues can impact comprehension in the computer lab or during group projects. Close-up acuity issues can cause issues with studying, reading, and homework.
●       Eye tracking: Keeping their eyes focused on a target can be difficult for a child with vision problems, and it can impact their ability to move from one word to the next on paper or to track a ball as it moves through the air.
●       Eye teaming: Eyes should work together, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Eye teaming issues can make it more difficult to judge depth and distance.
●       Eye-hand coordination: Challenges with processing visual information and using it directly the hands can lead to difficulty drawing, hitting a ball, or participating in childhood games.
●       Visual perception: Being able to organize images into letters, words, and ideas is key to comprehension, but visual perception can distort learning materials and make it impossible for a child to “keep up” with the class.

Signs of Vision Problems in Children
Children may not let on if they feel they’re falling behind or struggling, but there are some signs you might spot if they’re experiencing vision issues, like:

●       Saying their eyes are tired or looking worn out.
●       Rubbing their eyes frequently or blinking a lot, as if trying to adjust their focus.
●       Appearing to have a short attention span.
●       Complaining of frequent headaches.
●       Avoid reading or other activities that require up-close focus.
●       Covering one eye or turning the head to one side.
●       Tilting their head to focus.
●       Holding materials extra close to their face.
●       Complaining about double vision.
●       Losing their place when reading.
●       Difficulty explaining what they read, which could suggest issues perceiving and comprehending the material.

In the classroom, vision challenges can lead to a child seemingly being disinterested or not understanding what is being taught, which is why it’s important to rule out vision problems early.

How Often Should Your Child See the Eye Doctor?
School screenings aren’t enough to detect most vision issues, generating less than 4% of the information that a comprehensive eye exam will garner. Instead, make an appointment with your eye doctor to get your child in at least once a year. If specific problems or risk factors are present, go twice a year or as recommended by your optometrist.

You’re a busy parent with a lot on your to-do list but taking care of your child’s vision will set them up for a lifetime of success, both in school and beyond.

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