Most parents would agree that good vision is critical to their children’s success in school. But many parents don’t realize that good vision means more than being able to read the board – whether it’s a chalkboard, white board or Smartboard – from a distance.
Students also need to be able to focus on a computer screen, develop good eye-hand coordination, and be able to shift their focus back and forth from up close to distance.
A study by the American Optometric Association (AOA) shows few parents realize that one in four children have some type of undetected vision problem. According to Dr. Leonard Press, an optometrist and Vision & Learning Specialist with the AOA, 10 million school children in America have vision conditions that can negatively affect learning.
So what’s a parent to do? Don’t rely on the basic eye screening at school or your pediatrician’s office. The AOA recommends children have their first eye exam at age 6 months, then again every two years starting at age three.
Here are some things an Optometrist will check:
• Visual Acuity: Tests how well they see at various distances.
• Focus: Determines whether the eyes focus on a selected object and change focus easily.
• Visual Alignment: Check to make sure the muscles that move the eyes work correctly to aim both eyes at the same object.
• Binocular Vision: Tests to see if the eyes work together as a team to create one image in the brain.
• Eye Tracking: Tests to make sure the eyes track correctly across a printed page and when moving from one object to another.
• Color Vision: Ensures colors are being seen correctly. This is particularly important for preschoolers who are working on learning their colors.
• Eye-hand-body coordination: Test of tasks include handwriting, throwing and catching a ball as well as how size, color, and position are perceived.
Problems with vision can cause headaches, fatigue, and other eyestrain problems.