When is a Vision Exam Needed? 

 

 

Unfortunately, parents and educators often incorrectly assume that if a child passes a school screening, then there is no vision problem. However, many school vision screenings only test for distance visual acuity. A child who can see 20/20 can still have a vision problem. In reality, the vision skills needed for successful reading and learning are much more complex.

Even if a child passes a vision screening, they should receive a comprehensive optometric examination if:

  • They show any of the signs or symptoms of a vision problem listed above.
  • They are not achieving up to their potential.
  • They are minimally able to achieve, but have to use excessive time and effort to do so.

Vision changes can occur without your child or you noticing them. Therefore, your child should receive an eye examination at least once every two years-more frequently if specific problems or risk factors exist, or if recommended by your eye doctor. The earlier a vision problem is detected and treated, the more likely treatment will be successful. When needed, the doctor can prescribe treatment including eyeglasses, contact lenses or vision therapy to correct any vision problems.

 

Signs of Eye and Vision Problems

 

A child may not tell you that he or she has a vision problem because they may think the way they see is the way everyone sees.

Signs that may indicate a child has vision problem include:

  • Frequent eye rubbing or blinking
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading and other close activities 
  • Frequent headaches
  • Covering one eye
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • Holding reading materials close to the face
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Losing place when reading
  • Difficulty remembering what he or she read 

Vision Skills Needed for School Success

 

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 is seen. Basic visual skills include the ability to focus the eyes, use both eyes together as a team, and move them effectively. Other visual perceptual skills include:

  • recognition(the ability to tell the difference between letters like "b" and "d"),
  • comprehension(to "picture" in our mind what is happening in a story we are reading), and
  • retention (to be able to remember and recall details of what we read).

Every child needs to have the following vision skills for effective reading and learning:

  • Visual acuity  the ability to see clearly in the distance for viewing the chalkboard, at an intermediate distance for the computer, and up close for reading a book.
     
  • Eye Focusing  the ability to quickly and accurately maintain clear vision as the distance from objects change, such as when looking from the chalkboard to a paper on the desk and back. Eye focusing allows the child to easily maintain clear vision over time like when reading a book or writing a report.
     
  • Eye tracking  the ability to keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another, moving the eyes along a printed page, or following a moving object like a thrown ball.
     
  • Eye teaming  the ability to coordinate and use both eyes together when moving the eyes along a printed page, and to be able to judge distances and see depth for class work and sports.
     
  • Eye-hand coordination  the ability to use visual information to monitor and direct the hands when drawing a picture or trying to hit a ball.
     
  • Visual perception  the ability to organize images on a printed page into letters, words and ideas and to understand and remember what is read.

If any of these visual skills are lacking or not functioning properly, a child will have to work harder. This can lead to headaches, fatigue and other eyestrain problems. Parents and teachers need to be alert for symptoms that may indicate a child has a vision problem.

 

 

 

 

 

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