An eye exam may be the last thing on your mind in the rush to get your children ready to go back to school. But in reality, no amount of new clothes, binders, backpacks or pencils will help your child succeed in school if they have an undetected problem with their vision.
Did you know that one out of four children has vision problems? And yet only 50% of parents with children under the age of 12 have taken their children to an eye care professional.
Many children struggle needlessly with vision problems simply because they don’t know they have one. For a child in school, vision correction can make all the difference in their academic performance as well as their ability to play sports and interact with others. Eye exams ensure that children are seeing and feeling their best.
You may be wondering why eye care professionals recommend a back-to-school eye exam when many children receive a vision screening at school. There are, however, important differences between a screening and a comprehensive eye exam. Where a screening tests only for visual acuity, comprehensive exams will test for visual acuity, chronic diseases, color vision and make sure the eyes are working together properly.
A standard school vision screening mostly checks distance vision but does not check for near vision issues, meaning farsightedness is often missed. Amblyopia, or lazy eye, and eye coordination issues are also frequently missed during screenings. That means that a child may pass a vision screening because they are able to see the board, but they may not even be able to see the textbook in front of them!
Children’s bodies are rapidly growing and changing. Their eyes are as well. Regular eye exams will ensure early detection and treatment of any problems!
Having good eyesight is an important part of completing day to day activities. Vision is used to gather information, trigger motor responses, and estimate distances. While adults may be able to detect a changes in their vision, it is often difficult for children to identify and express.
Children are required to have annual eye exams to not only evaluate children's visual acuity (clarity of vision) but also to have developmental eye movements assessed.
Developmental eye movements include saccades, tracking/pursuits, and convergence.
Saccadic eye movements are quick movements of the eyes between two points in various directions (left and right, diagonally, up and down). These movements should be a short, quick movement between the targets, and the child should be able to do it without moving his or her head. These eye movements are important for tasks such as spatial awareness and reading.
Pursuits, or tracking, are eye movements that follow a moving object in various directions. The children's eyes should be moving together, and they should not lose the target object. If the child's eyes are jumping, or they are required to move their head to track, the child may be experiencing a visual impairment.
Convergence is defined as the inward movement of both eyes. This means that the eyes are coming together to focus on a target object. A child's eyes should move inwards together, in a smooth movement. If one or both of the child's eyes are not converging or if the convergence is delayed, the child will have difficulty focusing on objects and will have more difficulty participating in activities.
If a child is experiencing visual issues, it can have a huge impact on their performance during daily activities.
Children with visual impairment often experience increased difficulty with academic activities - often struggling with handwriting, math, reading and attention. In addition to academic activities, children may also struggle with dressing tasks such as tying shoes and fastening buttons or zippers, which limits overall independence.
Vision also plays an important role in motor components of activities such as hand-eye coordination, balance and manipulating small pieces, which are all skills needed to engage in daily activities.
Having your children's eyes tested annually is the only way to monitor changes in their vision and developmental eye movements. It will give us the ability to diagnose and treat (or refer for treatment to a vision therapist).
With over 30 years experience licensed optician Joe Bushara and his highly experienced team, bring you the latest trends in frames and technologies in lenses from around the world.