Healthy Vision Helps Kids Succeed; Inside and Outside of the Classroom
By VSP Vision Care optometrist, Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford
For more information about children’s eye health, visit www.SeeMuchMore.com.
Every year, as part of our back-to-school routines, we schedule our children’s yearly general wellness exams, purchase school supplies and make sure they have an updated wardrobe. But one thing that’s critical to children’s performance, yet we often overlooked, is their annual eye exam.
One in four children has an undetected vision condition and since eye health plays a major role in academic growth, it’s common for vision problems to be mistaken for a learning disability. Experts believe that 80 percent of what we learn is through our eyes, making a comprehensive eye exam one of the most important ways parents can give their child the best chance at success in school.
Several common signs that may indicate a child is having trouble with his or her vision are:
- Losing place on the page when reading
- Consistently rubbing the eyes
- Tilting the head when looking at an object
- Frequent headaches
- Squinting to read or watch TV
- Avoiding “close work” or holding things close to the face to see them
- Poor grades and/or behavioral problems
If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, it’s time for a visit to the eye doctor. And, even if he or she doesn’t have any symptoms, it’s recommended that your child receive a comprehensive eye examination at six months of age, before entering preschool, before beginning kindergarten, and every year following that.
What about an in-school screening? The short answer: it’s not enough. A comprehensive eye exam may detect what basic school vision screenings can’t. While in-school screenings help identify some vision problems, such as near- and farsightedness, they don’t ensure that the eyes are actually healthy. For instance, two common vision problems an in-school screening can miss are eye coordination and lazy eyes. If caught early, these conditions may be corrected. Furthermore, in-school screenings don’t test for health conditions that a comprehensive eye exam can detect like diabetes and hypertension.
Having healthy vision helps kids succeed both in and out of the classroom! So this year, be sure to schedule your child’s annual vision exam.
If your child is nervous about getting an eye exam, share these fun coloring sheets and a story book about a child’s first exam to help him or her feel more comfortable. And be sure to check out the “ABCs of Eye Exams” page to help you and your child learn what to expect during a vision exam.
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