It’s coming! The school year is almost upon us. As we gather pencils, backpacks, and new shoes, it is important to remember to get eye exams for our children. How well a child can see directly affects his/her ability to learn and succeed at school.
According to the American Public Health Association, 10% of all preschoolers and 25% of students in kindergarten through sixth grade have vision deficiencies that affect their progress at school. Some children have poor control of eye movements required for reading, while others notice blurred or jumpy letters on pages.
School screenings are helpful in picking up 5% of students with vision trouble. Some children with “perfect 20/20” vision go undetected, despite symptoms that affect school performance. Warning signs of a problem include headache, blurred vison, slow reading, and poor comprehension. Students may frequently lose their place when reading or may skip lines or words often due to lack of strong focus or poor eye alignment. For some, eyeglasses are recommended. For others a vision therapy program involving exercises to retain the eyes and improve their performance is indicated.
I am often asked when the best time is for a child to get their first eye exam. The American Optometric Association, American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that it is wise to get eye exams at age 6 months, 3 years and every one to two years after. Children may have trouble communicating a vision problem with parents. The eye exam sets the stage for early detection of vision problems, making them more responsive to treatment.
So as we prepare to start this school year, ask yourself if your child is due for an eye exam. It may end the frustrating struggles of evening homework and result in better grades and school attitude.