Most parents realize how important quality vision is to their child’s development and education.
- As children grow, more than 80% of what they learn is processed through their eyes.
- Up to 25% of all school-aged children have vision problems significant enough to impair academic performance.
- Traditional testing for 20/20 visual acuity does not detect these problems. In fact, many children with significant vision problems have passed their school’s vision screening. That’s because these screenings are designed only to check distance vision as measured by the 20/20 line on the eye chart. Unfortunately, they do not check if a child’s eyes:
- Both work together as a team
- Can track print across a written page without losing their place
- Can comfortably adjust focus when looking from near to far away
Good vision involves much more than just seeing clearly without glasses. Visual problems in any of the following areas can have a significant effect on learning:
- Eye tracking skills
- Eye teaming skills
- Binocular vision
A vision problem can be easily mistaken for a learning problem. Youngsters with visual problems can be misdiagnosed as having learning disabilities, ADHD, or dyslexia. For example, a child with a learning related vision problem may not be able to sustain close work at school, and a child who has ADHD also cannot sustain attention on their work. Same behaviors, different diagnosis.
Some signs and symptoms, like eyestrain or blurred vision, can actually be attributed directly to a visual dysfunction. Other problems, such a poor attention span at school, clumsiness in sports, or reduced productivity at work, may not be immediately recognized as a vision problem.
Other physical signs of vision problems in children:
- Frequent headaches or eyestrain
- Blurring of distance or near vision, particularly after reading or close work
- Avoidance of close work
- Poor judgment of depth
- An eye that turns in or out
- Tendency to cover up one eye
- Double vision
- Poor hand-eye coordination
- Difficulty following a moving target
Eye Exam: Children
- Amblyopia - This is the loss or lack of development of central vision and is not correctable with lenses. Amblyopia can result from a failure to use both eyes and a large degree of nearsightedness or farsightedness before age 6. It does not affect side vision.
- Eye coordination - Both eyes need to work together as a team. Each eye sees a different image, and the brain blends the images into one three-dimensional picture. Good eye coordination keeps the eyes in proper alignment.
- Color deficiency - This is about the inability to distinguish some colors and shades. This happens when the color-sensitive cone cells in the eyes do not pick up or send the proper signals to the brain.
Infants are not born with complete vision. As babies grow, good vision develops through a learned process of looking touching, and exploring. Parents can play an important role in ensuring that their baby learns to see well.
Eye Examinations for Babies
Your baby should have his or her first visual exam at six months of age, or sooner if a problem is evident. If you notice your baby’s eyes turning inward or outward for more than a few seconds, or any other sign of eye problems, call Fischer Laser Eye Center and ask for an appointment with an eye care professional experienced in examining infants.
A baby’s failure to see well can affect other development. Look for these milestones in your child’s visual and motor development:
Does your baby:
- Follow an object with his or her eyes by age 5 weeks?
- Bring his or her hands together by 8 weeks?
- Hold and sustain direct eye contact with you by 3 months?
- Turn his or her eyes together to locate near objects by 4 months?
- Make the sounds p, b, t, d, and m by 5 months?
- Roll over independently by 7 months?
- Sit without support by 8 months?
- Creep and crawl by 9 months?
Seek professional help if you notice a delay in any of these developmental milestones. The sooner any vision problems are detected and treated, the more likely the problem can be fully corrected. Typically, babies and children do not outgrow visual problems.