Healthy eyesight is hugely important to a child’s development and education.
As much as 80% of all learning is visual, and it’s estimated that more than half of childhood learning difficulties come from undiagnosed vision problems. What can parents do to ensure their kids don’t have to struggle with the social and educational disadvantages of an undiagnosed vision problem?
Understand Why Vision Problems Can Go Undiagnosed
Kids are much less likely than adults to recognize that the problems they’re having are because their eyes aren’t working properly. This means they can’t describe what they’re experiencing to adults. Such children will continue to struggle with an undefined obstacle. They might become distracted and fidgety, and an adult might scold them for it, which only makes things worse. All they know is they’re being scolded for not doing as well as their peers, even if they’re trying their hardest.
Vision Problems a School Nurse Might Miss
Inability of children to self-report isn’t the only reason a vision problem might go undiagnosed. Another big one is that many of them don’t receive comprehensive eye exams before starting school. School nurses will test students’ visual acuity using the big E chart, but healthy eyesight is a lot more complicated than having 20/20 vision. Here are some vision problems the school nurse will miss:
- Astigmatism. Refractive errors that cause blurry vision but which aren’t always caught in a vision screening. Can lead to amblyopia if not treated with corrective lenses.
- Amblyopia. Also known as “lazy eye,” this means poor vision in one eye due to astigmatism, a difference in refractive errors between the two eyes, or crossed eyes. Can result in irreversible vision loss without treatment.
- Convergence Insufficiency. The eyes drift outward when trying to focus on up-close things, making reading and other close tasks difficult.
- Strabismus. A misalignment of the eyes where they turn out, in, down, or up. Can be corrected by patching, special glasses, or surgery.
Signs Parents Should Watch For
Certain symptoms of eye problems are very obvious to an observer, like an eye pointing in the wrong direction or frequent squinting. Others need more careful observation. Here are a few signs that would merit a comprehensive eye exam (though we recommend them no matter what):
- Frequent blinking and eye rubbing
- Short attention span, especially for close work
- Difficulty with reading or avoidance of it
- Frequent headaches
- Habit of covering one eye
- Habit of tilting the head to the side
- Tendency to hold reading materials very close to their face
- Difficulty remembering what they just read
- Tendency to lose their place while reading
Why Wait to Schedule Your Child’s Eye Exam?
Every parent wants to give their child the best chance in life, and making sure they don’t have an eye problem that could interfere with their education and development is a big part of that — and one many parents have no way of knowing about! To learn more about eye problems that often go undiagnosed in children, please give us a call!