Did you know a sight screening is not the same as an eye exam?
An eye exam does more than just determine the ability to see – it’s a vital part of overall health and development. Since children may not know they should see differently or be able to communicate their experience to you, it’s important to have them examined by an eye doctor well before they enter school.
Vision and Learning
It is estimated that 80% of learning is gained through visual input. Many children struggle in school and vision-related learning difficulties often go undetected when eyesight is found to be 20/20. In fact, one out of six children diagnosed with a learning disability actually has a correctable vision problem! These kids may demonstrate behavioural, emotional or attention problems when confronted with visual tasks. A routine eye assessment can detect these conditions and correct them, usually by way of lenses or vision therapy.
Common Vision Conditions in Children
Several different vision skills must work together for your child to see and understand clearly. Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism are the most common visual conditions among children. Some eye conditions, such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eye), need to be corrected while the visual system is still maturing to avoid permanently reduced vision.
Signs of a vision problem can include:
- Avoiding puzzles, books or other near work
- Covering one eye when looking at something up close
- Lack of depth perception clues
- Losing place while reading
- Omitting or confusing small words when reading
- Lack of concentration
- Complaining of headaches, blurred or double vision
- Tilting the head or unusual posture
- Holding objects too close or sitting very close to the TV
- Rubbing eyes, visible frustration or grimacing
- Performing below potential, even with something as simple as playing catch with a ball
Vision Screening vs. Comprehensive Eye Exams
A comprehensive eye exam usually involves assessment of visual acuity, refractive error, eye movements and coordination, color vision, depth perception and eye health. Vision screenings often isolate single tests or incorporate automated testers which can give false readings that are difficult for screeners to interpret. One in thirty children will be affected by amblyopia – a leading cause of vision loss in people younger than 45 years old. Studies have shown that vision screenings can fail to correctly identify the 2-5% of children with amblyopia and in the process give false reassurance to parents that their child’s vision is normal. The sooner eye conditions are detected and treated, the better chance for a positive outcome! October is National Eye Health month, and this year’s focus is Children’s Vision. Make an appointment with your optometrist today!
Children’s Eye Exams
- Eye exams for children are fully covered by MSP
- Exams are about 20 minutes
- A child does not have read to have an eye exam
- Eye exams are fun
After the eye exam, parents will know:
- If your child’s eyes are working together and are healthy
- If your child has good depth and colour perception
- If your child’s eyes can see and focus well
- If your child requires optical correction (glasses or contact lenses) or vision therapy