According to Prevent Blindness America’s website, vision problems affect one out of 20 preschoolers and one out of four school-aged children. Poor eyesight can be detrimental to a child’s performance in school as well as affect his or her behavior. Fortunately, most issues can be resolved by a visit to an optometrist or ophthalmologist. A full ophthalmic exam can determine the cause of the problem, and a solution can be quickly implemented.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) states that children with undetected vision problems can be misdiagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This is because greater effort and concentration than normal is required when a person cannot see clearly, leading many children to appear inattentive. To the AOA, adequate vision is indicated by the presence of:
Visual acuity — A person’s ability to perceive fine details or clarity of vision
Visual integration — The ability of the brain to process what is seen and understand it
Eye teaming — Teaming occurs when both eyes work together as a “team” or functioning pair that allows the brain to fuse the separate images from each eye and perceive it as one.
Eye focusing — The eyes should be able to focus and adequately adjust from near and distant points.
Eye motility — This term describes the eyes’ ability to move together.
It may not be easy to determine whether your child has problems seeing or not because he or she may not know the difference between their current vision and what normal vision should look like. To help determine if your child needs an ophthalmic check-up, watch for these common signs of potential vision problems:
1. Holding reading material closer than normal—Children who hold their books too close to their face probably have difficulty reading from the usual distance of 10-13 inches. They could also often lose their place while reading.
2. Headaches—Poor vision often leads to eyestrain from squinting. Fatigue can also result from efforts to see more clearly.
3. Rubbing eyes or blinking excessively—Children who have blurry vision rub or blink their eyes frequently in an effort to focus on what they are trying to see.
4. Consistently performs below his or her academic potential—A child who understands what he or she is learning, but falls behind in schoolwork that requires reading or close work, may not be able to see properly.
The AOA suggests taking your child to the optometrist for a check-up at least every two years. If there are other problems or risk factors regarding vision, then yearly visits are recommended. Very often the issue can be treated with something as simple as a pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses. Although schools and pediatricians are able to perform basic eye exams, there is no substitute for a complete ophthalmic exam by a qualified ophthalmologist. Feinerman Vision Center has a friendly, experienced staff that can help you and your child with eye health needs and provide the best and most technologically advanced treatment. Call today for an appointment!