As the new school year approaches, parents often focus on getting their kids new clothes, school supplies, and other essentials. However, one important aspect of back-to-school preparation that is often overlooked is the eye exam. Many parents assume that if their child can see well enough to get by, they don’t need an eye exam. However, the truth is that undetected vision problems can have a significant impact on a child’s academic success.
The link between vision and learning
Vision is a crucial component of learning. In fact, studies have shown that up to 80% of what a child learns in school is presented visually. This means that if a child has a vision problem, it can significantly affect their ability to learn and succeed in the classroom.
Common vision problems
Several common vision problems can affect a child’s ability to learn, including:
- Myopia (nearsightedness): Children with myopia can see objects up close clearly, but have difficulty seeing objects that are far away, such as the board in the classroom.
- Hyperopia (farsightedness): Children with hyperopia can see objects far away clearly, but have difficulty seeing objects up close, such as reading or writing.
- Astigmatism: This is a common vision problem where the cornea or lens of the eye is irregularly shaped. This can cause light to refract differently and focus on multiple points on the retina, resulting in blurry or distorted vision.
- Amblyopia (lazy eye): This occurs when one eye is weaker than the other, causing the brain to favor the stronger eye and ignore the weaker one. Amblyopia can lead to permanent vision loss if not detected and treated early.
The importance of eye exams
Getting regular eye exams is essential for ensuring your child’s overall health and academic success. Eye exams not only check for common vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, but they can also detect more serious eye conditions that could impact your child’s ability to learn and develop properly. By identifying and addressing these issues early on, your child can get the necessary treatment to improve their vision and ultimately excel in school and other areas of their life.
The American Optometric Association recommends that children have their first pediatric eye exam at 6 months of age, followed by another at age 3, and again before kindergarten. After that, children should have an eye exam every two years unless they need to wear corrective lenses.
Vision screenings vs. comprehensive eye exams
While some schools offer vision screenings, they are not the same as comprehensive eye exams. A vision screening is a brief test that is typically performed by a school nurse or pediatrician. The purpose of a screening is to identify any obvious signs of vision problems, such as squinting, holding a book too close, or difficulty seeing the board.
On the other hand, a comprehensive eye exam is a more in-depth evaluation of a child’s vision and eye health. During a comprehensive eye exam, an optometrist will perform a number of tests to evaluate visual acuity, depth perception, color vision, eye muscle function, and peripheral vision. They will also examine your child’s eye health, including the retina, optic nerve, and other structures.
One significant difference between a screening and a comprehensive exam is that a screening may miss certain vision problems that can only be detected through a comprehensive exam. For example, a child may have perfect visual acuity but still have a problem with eye coordination that makes it difficult to read for extended periods.
By taking care of your child’s vision, you can help them achieve their full academic potential and set them up for success in the future. If it’s been a while since your child’s last eye exam, contact Spring House Eye Associates today to schedule an appointment.