Alamo Optometry Blog

August 11, 2009

School-Aged Vision

Filed under: Vision Care Tips — Tags: , — admin @ 11:34 pm

School-Aged Vision

(As appeared in Alamo Today, August 2009, pg. 30)

In our second installment of vision and eye health throughout our lifetime, this month we will discuss the needs of a school-aged child. In contrast to preschool kids, school-age children are required to use their eyes and vision not only learning, but for comprehension, extended times of visual attention, and sports. From learning to read in the early years to taking notes and transitioning quickly between the board to your paperwork in junior high and high school the visual demands placed on a student are many and varied.
To be able to succeed in school, good vision is paramount. According to the American Optometric Association, it has been estimated that nearly 80% of learning occurs through the eyes. However, about 20% of school-aged children struggle to read. Some of these children suffer from learning disabilities that inhibit their ability to read. And some children are labeled as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), because an undetected vision problem can have the same signs and symptoms as ADHD. Obviously these children will have problems with learning, but sadly a large portion of children have vision difficulties that are interfering with reading.
The major thing to know as parents is that vision is more than just seeing 20/20. Obviously that is important, but you also need the ability to understand and respond to what is seen. Every child needs to have the following skills to effective read and learn: visual acuity, eye focusing, eye tracking, eye teaming, eye-hand coordination, and visual perception. If any or all of these necessary skills are lacking, your child will have to work harder to compensate. This can lead to headaches, fatigue, and inattention to detail.
As children progress in school, they face increasing demands on their visual abilities. The size of print in schoolbooks becomes smaller and the amount of time spent reading and studying increases significantly. When the visual abilities of the child are unable to keep up, learning becomes difficult and frustrating. When this occurs, children will start to avoid reading and other near work or attempt to do the work with lower efficiency, and experience discomfort, fatigue, and a short attention span.
Keep in mind that a child might not always tell their parents that they have a vision problem because they assume that is the way everyone sees or struggles to see. Some signs to look for that your child might have a vision problem include: frequent eye rubbing or blinking, avoiding reading, headaches, covering or favoring one eye, tilting the head to read, seeing double, consistently losing place when reading, and lower reading comprehension.
In addition to the vision requirements for school and learning, sports and recreation activities also come with their own vision issues. Besides good vision, depth perception, wide peripheral vision, and effective eye-hand coordination are essential for success in any sport. If appropriate, contact lenses offer an effective means of correcting any vision issues while allowing for the freedom of running and exercising without the hassle of glasses. For those who are not interested in contacts, sports goggles are also a great option. These are becoming more fashion-forward and are impact resistant. The lenses should be made in polycarbonate, which are shatter-proof. In addition, they can be tinted for day games, or have transitions lenses (which turn from clear to dark) for more versatility. Regardless of the type of glasses or sunglasses, your child should have UV protection. Children receive about 75% of their entire UV exposure for their lifetime by the time they are 18. More children should be wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and have UV protection in their everyday glasses.
Vision changes can occur without your child or you noticing them. We recommend a comprehensive eye exam at the latest before entering Kindergarten, and then every 1-2 years thereafter, unless otherwise directed. Keep in mind, the earlier a problem is found and treated, the higher the success rate and improvement in your child’s education and well-being.

Dr. K. at Alamo Optometry is your hometown eye doctor for outstanding service, vision care, and designer eyewear. He can be reached at 925-820-6622 or visit his office at 3201 Danville Blvd., Suite 165 in Alamo. Visit our website at: ww.alamooptometry.com.

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