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7/7/22 blog post

does my child need an eye exam?

seeing is success: vision skills needed for back to school

Reading, writing, and using computers are among the visual tasks students perform daily. A child's eyes are constantly in use in the classroom.

As children progress throughout school, they face increasing strains on their visual abilities. For example, the size of print in textbooks becomes smaller and the amount of time spent reading and studying increases.

When visual skills have not developed, or are poorly developed, learning can be difficult and stressful. A child may not tell you that he or she has a vision problem because they may not understand that the way they see is different.

vision skills needed for school

Vision is more than just the ability to see clearly or having perfect eyesight. It is also the ability to understand and respond to what is seen. There are many basic visual skills beyond seeing clearly that are important for kids in school.

Every child needs to have the following vision skills for school:

  • Visual acuity—the ability to see clearly
  • Eye focusing—the ability to quickly and accurately maintain clear vision as the distance from objects change, such as when looking at the teacher at the front of the room to a paper on the desk and back.
  • Eye tracking—the ability to keep the eyes on target when looking from one object to another, like when moving the eyes when reading a book from page to page.
  • 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 classwork and sports.
  • Eye-hand coordination—the ability to use visual information to monitor and direct the hands like 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.

Other visual perceptual skills include:

  • Recognition—the ability to tell the difference between letters like "b" and "d".
  • Retention—remember and recall details of what is read.
  • Comprehension—"picture" in the child's mind what is happening in a story.

If any of these visual skills are lacking or not working properly, a child will have to work harder to learn. Students who struggle with a vision-related learning problem may experience headaches, eye strain, and fatigue.

signs that may indicate a child has a vision problem include:

  • Discomfort and fatigue
  • Eye rubbing or blinking
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading
  • 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 is read

Undetected and untreated, vision problems can elicit some of the very same signs and symptoms commonly attributed to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Due to these similarities, children with these symptoms should have a comprehensive vision exam with their doctor of optometry to avoid misdiagnosis.

back-to-school eye exams

A comprehensive eye examination is essential for back-to-school success.

Because vision may change frequently, your child should have an eye examination every year. Unfortunately, parents and educators often incorrectly assume that if a child passes a school screening, there is no vision problem. A vision screening is not a comprehensive exam. Even if a child passes a vision screening, they should receive a comprehensive eye examination. The earlier a vision problem is detected and treated the more likely treatment will be successful.

If your child has not had a comprehensive eye exam, or if your child is experiencing any of the visual signs above, call our ophthalmology office at 937-641-5747.