Back to School The ABC’s of Children’s Vision

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A child’s world is very visual.  On the playground, at home, and in the classroom there are constant visual demands.  Have you ever wondered just what your child is seeing on a daily basis and how their visual processing impacts their ability to learn?  

For your children to succeed at school there are many visual skills they need in addition to the often quoted “20/20” (the ability to see detail well at distance).   Children need to be able to focus in the distance for seeing board work in class, but also be able to easily and comfortably maintain focus up close for reading and near tasks, and be able to change that focusing quickly and accurately. They also need accurate control of eye position and eye movement, and good peripheral awareness along with the ability to process visual information. 

Optometrists specialize in examining, diagnosing, treating, managing and preventing diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and related structures.  Optometrists are eager to see children annually for full eye health examinations to ensure eye disorders do not go undetected. Studies indicate that over 80% of learning is visual and that one in five children has a vision disorder.   

Many common eye conditions such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism are easily treated with corrective lenses.  The earlier a visual problem is detected the more likely treatment can prevent long-term difficulty with blurred vision, headaches, eye fatigue, squinting, and in some cases, inattention and behavioural problems.  Uncomfortable focusing can cause a child to quickly lose attention and extreme frustration with reading or near work.

Vision disorders can also have no symptoms at all, making it impossible for parents to detect, and if left undiagnosed and untreated can negatively impact a child’s ability to learn.  Visual changes in children can occur gradually and often without their awareness.  As children are very adaptable they will often not complain about blurred vision or difficulty seeing out of one eye.  As their vision is “normal” to them, it may not occur to them that they see differently than anyone else.  We have all heard those stories of nearsighted individuals with their first pair of spectacles that are astonished to find that trees have leaves and that faces are visible across the room.

Eye health examinations assess many aspects of your child’s vision – the level of detail that can see, their ability to change focus, tracking skills, binocular skills (ability to use both eyes together) along with the ocular health of the various parts of the eye.  Children’s eyes can be assessed at any age, and it is recommended that their first examination be at 6 months of age.  Don’t wait for them to ask to see an eye doctor; their eyes deserve early assessment; a world of endless learning awaits!

For more information on children’s vision please contact your local optometrist.   Your child’s world is very visual.  Give them the gift of regular eye health exams and begin a lifetime of good vision.

Written by Cowichan

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