If you think your child might have vision problems, it is important to have those problems corrected as soon as possible. Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute would like to share some information regarding why this is so important. Did you know that 1 in 4 children have vision problems of which their parents are not aware? According to the American Optometric Association, 1 in 5 preschoolers have vision problems.

“Problem Learners”

You probably are not aware of the fact that 60% of “problem learners” have a vision problem that is undetected. Moreover, these vision problems can also cause behavioral issues. It is important that your child sees well in school, as it affects:

  • Reading
  • Seeing the board and teachers notes
  • Computer screen viewing

Moreover, vision affects your child’s well-being as well as mental, physical, social and emotional health. According to the American Optometric Association, “… A child’s brain learns how to use eyes to see, just like it learns how to use legs to walk or a mouth to form words. The longer a vision problem goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more a child’s brain learns to accommodate the vision problem.”

High quality and professional eye care are important in helping your child reach his or her full potential. Because children do not know what good vision is supposed to look like, they are not able to report difficulties at an early age.

As children age and they progress to the next grade, the demands on their eyes increases. The size of the print on the page becomes smaller, and the time spent reading and doing studies increases significantly. More homework places more visual demands on a child. When learning becomes difficult and stressful, children may avoid reading, attempt to do the work with lowered comprehension and experience fatigue and discomfort with an attention span that is shortened.

Children Age 6 to 18

Good vision is one the keys to succeeding in school. The ability to see well will be called on daily for a host of visual tasks:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Chalkboard work
  • Computers

Even participation in sports can be affected if a child is not seeing properly. Providing the best educational opportunities is something you may think about; however, what may be overlooked is your child’s vision in regard to those opportunities.

One common problem is myopia (nearsightedness). Children can also have farsightedness or astigmatism. Eye focusing, eye tracking, and eye coordination problems are other issues that can affect both school and sports performance. With the help of eyeglasses, the vision can be corrected. Additionally, vision therapy may be called for to enhance or help develop skills in vision.

Vision Needs in Sports

Your child will need specific vision skills if they are involved in school sports and outdoor games. Performance is enhanced if they have the right skills when it comes to their eyes:

  • Good depth perception
  • Clear vision at distances
  • Wide field of vision
  • Eye-hand coordination that is effective

Under-performing consistently in a certain sport may signify that your child has a vision issue; an example is swinging late when the ball is pitched in baseball. Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute can help your child ensure good vision and protect their eyes while participating in their favorite sports.

Visual Skills

More than just seeing correctly or having vision that measures 20/20, skill is needed to understand and respond to what is viewed. Basic skills include using both eyes as a team and the ability to focus the eye and move them in an effective manner. Other skills include:

  • Recognition – telling the difference between letters, such as “d” and “b”
  • Comprehension – picturing in the mind what is happening in a story
  • Retention – being able to remember and recall details of what has been read

As far as reading goes, certain skills are a necessary part of your child’s vision in order to facilitate effective learning:

  • Visual acuity – seeing the blackboard clearly, for example.
  • Focusing of eyes – switching from reading to seeing in the distance
  • Eye tracking – keeping eyes on target when moving from one object to another
  • Eye-hand coordination – using hands and eyes together when drawing or hitting a ball
  • Visual perception – being able to organize images on the printed page into understandable letters, words and ideas

Symptoms that might be evidence of a vision problem

The following are some signs that you can be aware of that suggest that your child might have vision issues:

  • Loses place while reading
  • Avoids work that is close
  • Rubs eyes frequently
  • Headaches
  • Reversals in reading and writing happen frequently
  • Rereads or omits words
  • Constantly achieves below potential

It has been mentioned that school screenings are just not comprehensive enough to catch many vision problems in a child. Sometimes a child can use a better eye to read the letters on an eye chart. You should be scheduling routine comprehensive eye exams to be sure that your child does not have eye problems that will interfere with learning as well as socialization and reaching their full potential. Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute can help you in the examination of your child’s vision.

Routine Eye Exams

The following are recommendations from the American Optometric Association with regards to eye exams for your child:

  • Infants – should receive a comprehensive baseline eye exam between the ages of 6 and 12 months, immediately after the critical period when the eye undergoes rapid and profound changes and is therefore most vulnerable to interference with normal development
  • Preschoolers – should receive at least one in-person, comprehensive eye exam between the ages of 3 and 5 to prevent or diagnose any condition that may have long-term effects
  • School-aged children (6 to 18 years) – should receive a comprehensive exam prior to entering the first grade and annually thereafter

Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute is here to help you get the best care for your child’s eyes. We have been a leader in Tampa eye care since 1981. Here you can find out if your child has myopia or other condition, such as “lazy eye,” which might prevent them from doing their best in school. We can provide pediatric eye care and help to ensure that your child maintains clear and strong vision. Our pediatric doctors are highly skilled and trained in the needs that are specific to children’s vision. Because your child may not be aware that their vision is abnormal, we are here to help with routine eye exams and services.

Early detection of eye problems through regular exams is essential in maintaining healthy eyesight for your child.

Information supplied does not apply to everyone, as each child is an individual. In-person diagnosis and treatment is recommended. Call Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute if you need more information or to schedule an appointment.