4 TIPS TO SPOT VISION PROBLEMS IN KIDS
As we march into spring, many families are participating in kindergarten or preschool orientation. Young children are excited about taking the next step in school, but one of the most important yet overlooked necessities in their success is healthy vision.
If your child has been in preschool, chances are they may have had a vision screening. These are performed in most preschool and elementary schools. Many vision screenings test only for distance visual acuity. While the ability to see clearly in the distance is important, it does not indicate how well the eyes focus up close or work together. A screening does not give any information about the health of your child’s eyes. That’s why it’s important to have an annual comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
As older school aged children near the last half of the school year, standardized testing and spring exams are coming into play. Eye strain and/or vision problems may manifest themselves and as parents, you may notice a change in your child’s demeanor.
A child’s eyes and vision grow from year-to-year and as they progress through school, the demands of learning require visual work involving reading, writing, computers and the ability to see chalkboards/smartboards. If their eyes aren’t up to the task, a child may feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and have problems in school.
Particularly in young children, it’s difficult for them to tell you they are having difficulty seeing something. But sometimes parents will notice signs that their child may have a vision problem. For instance, your child may squint, or hold reading material very close to their face.
Here are four signs that could point to possible vision problems in kids.
- Short attention span. Does your child seem to quickly lose interest in games, projects or activities that require using their eyes for an extended period of time?
- Losing their place when reading. For young children sometimes allowing a finger to follow the words will help train their eyes. Do you notice as your child reads (aloud or silently), they may have difficulty seeing to keep track of where they are on the page? It may also take them a long time to read a page.
- Avoiding reading and other close activities. Do you see a push back when your child is reading? Because of difficulty in seeing, they may choose to avoid reading, drawing, playing games or doing other projects that require focusing up close.
- Turning their head to the side. Does your child seem to tip their head or turn their head sideways to look at something in front of them? They can see better, but this may be a sign of an astigmatism or a refractive error.
Success in school is closely tied to eye health. That’s why it is so important for kids to have a comprehensive annual eye exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist who is properly trained to assess vision in school-aged children. The earlier a vision problem is found and treated, the better off your child will be—in and out of school. As you register your child for the next school year, be sure to put a comprehensive eye exam on your check off list. For questions regarding eye health contact our office at 724-443-6767 or 724-226-0444.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.