Posted January 18, 2011
Kids live in a visual world. Nearly 80 percent of what they learn through age 12 is visual, and kids need more than 15 visual skills to succeed in reading, learning, playing sports activities and in everyday situations. Seeing 20/20 is just one of those skills, according to the American Optometric Association (AOA).
The most common vision problems in children are refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Unfortunately, one in four school-age kids has vision problems that, if left untreated, can hinder their ability to learn and negatively affect their personality and performance in school.
Eye Examination Recommendations
The AOA recommends that children receive their first eye exam by age 1, the next one when they are 3 years old, and another before starting kindergarten. After that, students should have a yearly comprehensive examination to evaluate their total vision—not just a screening to check their ability to see.
Identifying Potential Vision Problems
Consider the following signs that a child may be experiencing a vision problem:
- Complains frequently about headaches or tired eyes
- Avoids activities that require near vision, such as reading or home work, or distance vision, including participation in sports or play activities
- Sits too close to the TV or holds a book close to the face
- Loses place or skips words while reading
- Uses a finger to guide eyes when reading
- Squints or tilts head to see better
- Rubs eyes frequently
- Closes one eye to read, watch TV, or see better
- Writes uphill or downhill
- Finds it difficult to copy material from the chalkboard
Studies by the National Institutes of Health and the National Eye Institute have discovered that more than 60 percent of students with learning problems have undiagnosed vision abnormalities that contribute to their difficulties.
If any of these vision warning signs are detected, schedule an appointment with an eye care professional for a comprehensive examination to evaluate the child’s vision and identify treatment options, if needed.
Do you have kids, or know of any, who have experienced vision problems? What symptoms were detected? What actions were taken to evaluate the concerns? – Ken VanCleave, Ameritas Group