Posted September 1, 2015
Good vision is vital for children and teens to succeed in school and in sports. An eye chart may be used to determine whether students have 20/20 vision, but this only is a test of their ability to see things in the distance. Kids of all ages also need a complete eye exam to evaluate their near-vision skills used for reading and athletic activities. Review three important facts:
1. 15 near-vision skills – Children and teens use nearly 15 near-vision skills to read and play sports, such as focusing, depth perception, eye teamwork, tracking and peripheral vision.
2. Eye coordination – Success in most sports requires kids kick or catch a ball, grab the baton, jump hurdles or flip at the pool wall. If they struggle with depth perception or eye-hand coordination, they may not be successful. A complete eye exam identifies these vision problems.
3. Vision training – Children and teens diagnosed with near-vision problems may require vision training to train the brain how to control the eyes.
- Researchers at the University of Cincinnati also believe vision therapy helps lower incidences of concussions, which temporarily cause unconsciousness due to a blow to the head. Researchers worked with the University of Cincinnati football team to incorporate vision therapy into the preseason football training. Players participated in several exercises designed to improve players’ vision skills, including the ability to process quickly the actions of others, such as someone rushing for a tackle or a ball thrown directly at them. Studies over five years showed an 80 percent drop in the annual concussion rate. To learn more about this study, review this article.
If children and teens are involved in sports, parents and caregivers should watch for these common indicators of a vision problem:
- Poor balance, clumsy or accident prone
- Slow steps and reflexes
- Incorrect rhythm and timing
- Reduced concentration
- Inconsistent performance
- Frequent headaches, fatigue and frustration
- Minimal improvement despite regular practices
- Consistently makes errors
Protect eyes from injury
When engaging in any type of physical activity, it’s important for kids to wear protective eyewear to avoid injuries. Outdoors, kids of all ages need to wear sunglasses with 100 percent UVA and UVB protection on both sunny and cloudy days.