Summer vaca is long over, a new year has begun and on your ‘must-do’ list should be having a kids’ eyes exam by an eye care specialist. As a mother of twin boys, I have done some research for our kids.
Following are my findings peppered with my opinions!
So I want you to know that 80% of problem readers are deficient in 1 or more visual skills, did you know that? Seeing clearly is only one of 17 visual skills needed for reading and learning.
There is nothing worse than a young person starting a new year, new school and maybe landing themselves in new social conditions and not being able to see. It can be a big problem!
Having an eye exam should start early, between ages 3 to 5 and then continuing on yearly along with the well-baby check ups.
Remember the eye chart at your kids’ paediatrician is not that reliable AT all! You must get a thorough check up with a pediatric optician. I know this as my kids had yearly check ups and always did great at the eye chart…and it was fun. My own gut feeling, and seeing my boy always squinting made me want to look further.
At a visit to an Optometrist you can expect detection of myopia (nearsightedness), amblyopia (lazy eye), and strabismus (a misalignment of the eyes or crossed eyes). After your visit, if you find that there are continued problems, then, you may need to find a “developmental optometrist” to see if your child is maybe suffering from “convergence insufficiency” (CI).
CI is all about how the eyes work together. And is characterized as a “common” childhood visual disorder that affects 5% of the US population. It is usually diagnosed during the school ages or adolescent years. You may not be aware of this, but, if your child exhibits reading problems or behavioural problems, according to specialists, this should be a go-to exam to check off.
So yes, vision problems in kids can be problems with fine motor skills (reading, writing, cutting with scissors, colouring, typing, texting, etc), gross motor skills, behavioural problems, attention problems as well as performance problems during school or sports.
For the development of good hand-to-eye coordination, it is very important to ensure that your child is seeing clearly. Fine motor skills require translating abstract vision information and applying the corresponding fine motor skills. Body-to-eye coordination for gross motor skills requires translating visual information into the corresponding gross motor activity, such as in sports, running, jumping etc.
As your child gets older and, especially with the growing use of electronic devices, kids vision can actually change rapidly. My kids didn’t get their first eye exam at school until 8th grade so that may not be something to count on even for basic vision testing.
Behavioral Optometry considers “visual information processing weaknesses.”
“Distractibility, weak reading skills and poor academic performance: these are signs of several learning disabilities, as well as ADHD. But they can also indicate something else — vision problems that will not be solved with Ritalin or most special education techniques.”
Some common complaints when vision problems are present:
- Get headaches
- Complaining that eyes feel tired or uncomfortable when reading (or doing other close work)
- Eye rubbing during close work or reading
- Double vision while reading
- Movement of words, jumping or floating
- Words blurring or going in and out of focus
- Losing one’s place while reading
- Feeling sleepy when reading
- Finding concentration hard when reading
- Can’t remember what was read
- Not wanting to read and acting out or refusing to read altogether
- Resist reading and avoid it whenever possible?
Keep in mind that while you can probably notice some of these problems, others you will have to ask your child about.
So the bottom line?
Get an eye exam as often as possible (once a year is good) to stay on top of any problems that could be hampering your special little (and not so little) guy or girl’s ability to excel at what they love!
Some helpful links:
Find an eye doctor near you (there are several sites where you can enter your zip and get Optometrican near you)
McCrodon Vision Development ( Read about Vision, Reading and Attention)
Affordable Prescription Eyeglasses (keep in mind for a young child we recommend going to a traditional eye doctor for prescription eyeglasses. Once your child is older, can articulate any problems and is experienced with glasses it will be ok to buy glasses online)