Your child's vision is essential to his success in school. When his vision suffers, chances are his schoolwork does, too. Summer is a great time to get all those appointments done for the new school year!
Vision problems are common among school-age kids. According to Prevent Blindness America, one in four school-age children have vision problems that, if left untreated, can affect learning ability, personality and adjustment in school.
School-age children also spend a lot of time in recreational activities that require good vision. After-school team sports or playing in the backyard aren't as fun if you can't see well.
Warning Signs of Vision Problems in Kids
Refractive errors are the most common cause of vision problems among school-age children. Parents, as well as teachers, should be aware of these 10 signs that a child's vision needs correction:
Blurry vision may be interfering with your child's ability to learn in school. Regular eye exams can detect and correct this and other vision problems.
- Consistently sitting too close to the TV or holding a book too close
- Losing his place while reading or using a finger to guide his eyes when reading
- Squinting or tilting the head to see better
- Frequent eye rubbing
- Sensitivity to light and/or excessive tearing
- Closing one eye to read, watch TV or see better
- Avoiding activities which require near vision, such as reading or homework, or distance vision, such as participating in sports or other recreational activities
- Complaining of headaches or tired eyes
- Avoiding using a computer, because it "hurts his eyes"
- Receiving lower grades than usual
Schedule an appointment with an optometrist or ophthalmologist if your child exhibits any of these signs. A visit with the doctor may reveal that your child has myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) orastigmatism. These common refractive errors are easily corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Eye Exams: How Often?
According to the American Optometric Association, children should have an eye exam by no later than 6 months old, then again by age 3 years, and just before starting school.
School-age children need an exam every two years after that if they have no visual problems. But if your child requires eyeglasses or contact lenses, schedule visits every 12 months.
Frequent eye exams are important because during the school years your child's eyeglasses prescription can change frequently.
Your eye care practitioner also will ensure that your child has the visual skills required for success in school and sports, such as accurate and comfortable eye teaming, peripheral vision, ease of focusing from distance to near and hand-eye coordination.
The best way to make sure your child has the visual skills he needs to excel in and outside the classroom is to schedule routine comprehensive eye exams with an eye doctor who specializes in children's vision.