Taking Care of Your Child's Vision
● By Hood Magazine
Photo courtesy of Kristi Shanks Photography
Children typically don’t complain when they have trouble seeing because they assume everyone sees the same way they do. The way that children “tell us” they have trouble seeing is by their behavior. Some signs are more obvious than others. The child who can’t see something other children can see, or who has trouble seeing the board in school is obvious. However, the child who is clumsy, has attention problems, or who struggles with reading and academic performance is less obvious.
It is important to know there are 17 visual skills required for reading and academic success. Being able to see the letters on the eye chart (20/20) is just one of those visual skills. Most vision screenings are not designed to test all of these visual skills. If your child is missing even one of these skills, reading and learning could become difficult.
Parents need to know the various behavioral signs that signal a vision problem; for example, does your child:
- Avoid reading or homework?
- Prefer to be read to?
- Turn his or her head at an angle when reading?
- Have more trouble comprehending what is read the longer he or she reads?
- Have trouble seeing 3D effects in movies or video games?
If your child seems to be able to see OK, and doesn’t complain—you still need to schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor. While only four out of 100 children have amblyopia (also known as lazy eye) the only way to be sure it is caught early is with a thorough eye exam. Early detection of lazy eye will prevent permanent vision loss. Half of the children with lazy eye in this country go undetected because they have never had a complete eye exam.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), children should have their eyes checked at 6 months, 3 years and just before entering elementary school. While in school, they should have yearly eye exams. However, if you notice that one eye turns in or out, or that your child doesn’t seem to respond to visual activity, schedule an exam immediately.
Thanks to Johnson & Johnson and the American Optometric Association there is a special program called InfantSEE® which provides no-charge vision assessment for all infants under 1 year of age. You can find an InfantSEE® provider by visiting: www.infantsee.org.
For more information about visual development and how vision problems can interfere with learning, visit the website for the College of Optometrists in Vision Development at www.covd.org.