By Dr. Amber Teten, Pediatric Eye Doctor
It is estimated that at least 80% of all learning is visual! That is a massive role your child’s eyesight plays in their learning. Your child’s education depends upon the functioning and healthy vision to process the information your child is presented in the classroom. The desire to ensure your child can learn at their highest level is one of the biggest reasons why it is imperative to schedule your child for an eye exam with a pediatric eye doctor. No matter your child’s age, an eye exam with a pediatric and developmental eye doctor is essential. It is estimated that over 50% of children’s learning difficulties are due to an undiagnosed vision problem. Wow! So, moms and dads, that homework struggle or meltdown in the evening with schoolwork could be due to an undiagnosed vision problem. So, how can you ensure your child does not experience the setbacks associated with an undiagnosed vision problem?
First, how do so many vision problems go undiagnosed?
Most parents trust that when they take their child to the pediatrician for their wellness visit, they check everything about their child’s health from head to toe. However, it is highly recommended that you be seen by other medical professionals for complete care, such as a dentist visit every six months. To maintain healthy eyesight, a pediatric eye doctor will recommend that your child be seen by an eye doctor between six months and one year of age. A pediatrician can screen a child’s vision but is not equipped to do a comprehensive eye exam on the development of vision, eye health, and eyesight prescription for glasses.
Also, a child does not have the life experience to recognize the difference between their eyesight and vision compared to what is “normal.” What they see is normal to them, and they may not be able to express to their parent that they are having problems with their eyes or vision. Often, disturbances in the visual process or development may affect children’s behavior in ways that mimic other issues. These include distracted, fidgety, lack of attention, moody, unable to focus, avoidance of near activities such as a desk or reading, clumsiness, forgetfulness, and failure to complete tasks and assignments on time. Often, these will be noted as the child is lazy or misbehaving instead of digging deeper into the actual problem. For the child, their best effort may be what they are giving. Still, they struggle with their eyesight, or their vision is not efficient enough to sit at the desk and look back and forth at the smart board during class. The child or parent may believe that the child is not a good learner and does not do well in school. When the reality is that the child cannot see clearly, and they didn’t get the help they needed. Based on the diagnosis, a pediatric eye doctor can recommend a solution to a child’s vision problem with either glasses, contact lenses, or vision therapy prescribed to help the child succeed.
To learn more about how Vision Therapy could benefit your child.
Well, my child had their eyes checked at school. That counts as an eye exam, right?
NO! NO! NO! The school nurse and school vision eye checks are NOT comprehensive eye exams. This misunderstanding of the definition of a comprehensive eye exam is an obstacle to understanding. It needs to be clarified in the diagnosis of vision-related learning problems. Many children never receive an eye exam, relying on the school nurse visits each year or the pediatrician check with the big E wall chart. The school nurse and pediatricians cannot diagnose or treat vision problems.
What are vision problems that can cause vision-related learning problems in the classroom and prevent academic success?
- Nearsighted / Myopia – objects in the distance, such as the smart board in school, are blurry
- Farsighted / Hypermetropia – objects closer are challenging to focus on and see clearly
- Amblyopia – “lazy eye” or significantly worse vision or refractive error in one eye or in both eyes where the eye and the brain together can not communicate with a clear image
- Astigmatism – objects of fine detail such as letters and numbers are blurred and shadowed and hard to focus on
- Strabismus – “eye turn,” the misalignment of one or both eyes
- Convergence Insufficiency – difficulty for both eyes to converge (come closer together) while looking at near objects, such as reading. Classic symptoms are Headache, Words moving on a page, or constantly re-reading things.
- Accommodative Spasm
What are signs that my child may have a vision problem?
- Frequent squinting, especially in bright lights or outside
- Frequent blinking or eye rubbing
- The eye turns out toward the ear or in toward the nose
- Headaches, new onset, or more often
- Avoiding near work such as reading or schoolwork
- Shorter attention span when doing close work
- Tendency to cover one eye or place a hand on the head
- Tendency to tilt head
- The habit of holding materials, toys, or books very close
- Difficulty remembering words they just read
- Having to re-read things often
- Prefers being read to than reading themselves
- Frequently losing place while reading
- Difficulty catching a ball or in sports
- More than normal clumsiness
- Motion sickness in the car
- Saying things are hard to see at school
- Saying words jump or move on the page when reading
As parents, we strive to give our children the best opportunities to succeed. However, few parents know the value of a comprehensive eye exam. An eye exam by a pediatric eye doctor can make a massive difference in the development and education of a child. The eye doctor can detect and treat vision problems that otherwise would present your child with many setbacks to success. Again, a child needs a comprehensive eye exam by a pediatric eye doctor.
An eye exam by a pediatric eye doctor is more thorough in checking the health of your child’s vision than the school screening or pediatrician eye chart. Sometimes vision problems are misdiagnosed as learning or attention disorders when the real problem is vision related that can be treated, and the child is on the path to success.
Interested in learning more about the connection between vision and learning click here?
So, if you or your child are experiencing any issues with your vision. We encourage you to call the Navigation Eye Care team at 757-529-6889 or schedule an appointment. We are equipped and prepared to care for you and your whole family. If you are looking for excellent service in a friendly manner, check us out. We highly recommend that you choose Navigation Eye Care when looking for a top eye doctor in Chesapeake. We will serve in the Chesapeake area for many years and can’t wait to see you and your family.