World Sight Day 2015: Tips on Child’s Eye Exam

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HEALTHLY LIVING  |  10.6.15  |  by Terra Wellington

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World Sight Day

Photo: The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)

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In our Fall Wellness roundup last week, we talked about how fall is a great time to schedule an eye exam for the whole family.   Just before Halloween and the holidays, families can squeeze it in.  But did you know that about 80 percent of what we learn is learned through sight?  All the more reason to think about your children’s eyesight this World Sight Day 2015.

What Are the Vision Skills Kids Need for School Success?

Children need good vision to be successful in school.  Being able to read up close and far away are both important.  As children age, the font size in their books often decreases, further challenging their ability to see properly.  Maybe there is more time on the computer, and this can cause strain on the eyes.

When children play school sports, or even at recess, it is critical to be able to see well to enjoy physical activity, avoid injury, and do well competitively.  The visual skills needed are complex and comprehensive, including eye/hand coordination, eye movement skills, seeing close and far, and more.

If a child can’t see well, it can cause stress on learning — maybe even discouraging a child from doing well in school.  The child might avoid reading, have a low comprehension of material, and experience fatigue simply because he or she grows tired of trying to see required school material.

Also, says the American Optometric Association (AOA), some children can be labeled as having ADHD or having learning disabilities when actually the problem is they can’t see well.

Undetected and untreated vision problems can elicit some of the very same signs and symptoms commonly attributed to ADHD. Due to these similarities, some children may be mislabeled as having ADHD when, in fact, they have an undetected vision problem.

eyeglasses on paper

Photo: instagram/ewan_bha

What Should you Expect at a Child’s Eye Exam?

The best way to avoid problems now and down the road is to take your child to an eye doctor to get a full eye exam before beginning preschool.   The AOA actually recommends a full eye exam at 6 months of age.

A simple school-based visual screening is not the same as an eye exam by an eye doctor, and usually a school-based visual screening only tests for distance.

If your child is deemed to have good eyesight, it is important to still periodically return every couple of years to the eye doctor for an eye examination to detect not only vision problems but also early detection of other health issues like diabetes (which can be detected via a comprehensive eye exam long before typical symptoms develop).

The national eye health initiative Think About Your Eyes recommends the following when scheduling a child’s eye exam

When scheduling an eye exam, choose a time when your child is usually alert and happy. Specifics of how eye exams are conducted depend on your child’s age, but an exam generally will involve a case history, vision testing, determination of whether eyeglasses are needed, testing of eye alignment, an eye health examination and a consultation with you regarding the findings.

Be sure to tell your eye doctor if your child has a history of prematurity, has delayed motor development, engages in frequent eye rubbing, blinks excessively, fails to maintain eye contact, cannot seem to maintain a gaze (fixation) while looking at objects, has poor eye tracking skills or has failed a pediatrician or pre-school vision screening.

Did you have an experience in which your child’s early eye exam helped with learning problems?

Let us know in the comments below 

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2015-10-07T15:08:17+00:00