Aug 24, 2010

Back to School Eye Exam

1 in 4 children has an undetected vision problem that could impair learning

Sadly, I know this statistic a little too well first hand.  Because of all the other back to school costs, we put off the required eye exam my middle son needed for Kindergarten until half the school year way gone.  I had taken him to a preschool screening and they had said he passed and he'd never said anything that indicated he had any vision issues.

Then when we took him in for a real eye exam we learned that he has pretty severe vision issues.  I was fairly over come with guilt, having put this off.  But still to this day my  son can't really articulate the difference in his vision with his glasses.  He'll go days without them if we don't remind him to put them on.  But once he had them his reading skills improved 10 fold.

I know many states have requred vision exams for Kindergarteners but I had never heard that it is suggested to take kids by age 2.  I never even considered that they'd be ABLE to test a childs vision before they could communicate clearly enough to read a chart. 

But now you can't say you didn't know.  Don't let your child be one of the 1 in 4 who goes undetected, like I did!!

Back-to-School Checklist Should Include Trip to Eye Doctor

Many experts believe that approximately 80 percent of learning comes through a child’s eyes. Reading, writing and computer work are just a few of the tasks students are expected to perform daily that require visual skills. As classrooms adopt more technologically advanced tools, such as interactive blackboard presentations, the dependence on adequate visual capabilities will increase.

Below are essential elements an optometrist will check during a comprehensive eye exam to make certain learning is maximized through good vision.
  • Visual acuity is measured at several distances so students can comfortably and efficiently read, work on the computer and see the blackboard.
  •  Focusing is an important skill that is tested. Eyes must be able to focus on a specific object and to easily shift focus from one object to another. This allows the child to move visual attention from a book to the blackboard and back.
  • Visual alignment and ocular motility are evaluated. Ideally, the muscles that aim each eye converge so that both eyes are aimed at the same object, refining depth perception.
  •  Binocular fusion (eye teaming) skills are assessed. These skills are critical to coordinate and align the eyes precisely so the brain can fuse the pictures it receives from each eye into a single image.
  •  Eye tracking skills are tested to determine whether the child can track across a page accurately and efficiently while reading, and can copy material quickly and easily from the blackboard or another piece of paper.
  • Testing preschoolers’ color vision is important because a large part of the early educational process involves the use of color identification.
  • Eye-hand-body coordination, critical for handwriting, throwing a ball or playing an instrument, and visual perception, used to interpret and understand visual information like form, size, orientation, texture and color perception, are important visual functions that are reviewed.
  • Overall eye health is determined by examining the structures of the eye.

Studies indicate that some children with undetected vision problems can be misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHA).  The AOA survey revealed that 64 percent of teachers witnessed a direct improvement in a child’s academic performance and/or classroom behavior after an eye or vision problem was diagnosed and treated.  If your child experiences any of the following, an optometrist should be consulted about a possible vision problem:
  •  Loses place while reading
  • Avoids close work
  •  Tends to rub eyes
  •  Has headaches
  •  Turns or tilts head
  •  Makes frequent reversals when reading or writing
  •  Uses finger to maintain place when reading
  • Omits or confuses small words when reading
  • Consistently performs below potential
  • Struggles to complete homework
  • Squints while reading or watching television
  • Has behavioral problems
  • Holds reading material closer than normal

Early detection and treatment are key in correcting vision problems and helping children see clearly. The AOA recommends that a child’s first eye assessment take place at 6 months of age.  Comprehensive eye exams should be conducted beginning at age 3, before a child enters school, and then every two years, unless otherwise advised by an optometrist. In between exams, parents and teachers should monitor children for the more prevalent signs that a student’s vision may be impaired.

To find an optometrist in your area, or for additional information on children’s vision or the importance of back-to-school eye exams, please visit

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):
The American Optometric Association represents approximately 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors.  Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.

1 comment:

  1. Our area has free screenings several times throughout the summer (thanks to the vsp insurance doctors). We took our son when he was 6 months old. It is a great service (and very in depth screening), however we won't be using it again. We were new in the area and now have our own doctor. The doctor we had didn't listen when I asked him not to dilate (several family members including me are allergic to those drops) and did it anyway and later told me how mis-shapen my son's head is.

    I had glasses at 6 years old so I forsee something similar with our two boys! I have been quite pleased with for my glasses. I get them for $8 a pair. I blogged about it (I'm not an affiliate or anything) a few times:


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