My Child passed the school vision screening. Do I still need to see an optometrist?
Yes. Standard vision screenings at schools miss a large number of vision disorders. A child should have a full eye examination by a developmental optometrist at age 1, 3, and 5 and every year they are in school. Your child’s visual system in the major way they learn in school.
My child read and passed the eye chart test. Doesn't that mean they have excellent vision?
No. That is a common misconception. The eye chart only tests how someone sees at distance. The fact is, however, that many vision problems occur at near, reading distance, rather than the farther distance that the eye chart tests for.
If a child has difficulty Fixating, Following, Focusing, and Fusing, it then makes reading difficult and this then results in poor school performance.
Recent studies found that nearly 70% of those children with an IEP were identified with treatable vision problems and yet would pass the vision screening because their vision problem did not affect their distant eye sight!
What can you do? You can help your child the most by scheduling a comprehensive eye exam.
Some states require a full eye examination but most typically provide a vision screening to determine that if a child can see at distance, for example the board in school. If the child’s visual acuity (eye sight) is better than 20/40 they pass the vision screening! Why do schools require a dental exam but not a vision exam?
Can't my child just wear glasses? Don't glasses fix all vision problems?
No. That too is a common misconception. Just as eyeglasses don't address eye allergies or treatment for eye diseases such as glaucoma, eyeglasses don't solve all vision problems. Not all eye examinations test for all vision issues. Specific tests are needed to uncover vision problems that affect reading and learning. Vision Therapy may be the answer to solving an underlying vision problem that is at the root of a reading a learning issue.
Don't children notice their visual problems? Wouldn't my child tell me if they had a problem?
No. Children think everyone sees the same way they do and that is why they often don't tell their parents that they are having trouble seeing the letters on the page. They think that this is normal. They may think they are not as smart as their classmates because they can't make any sense out of what they are seeing.
If your child is struggling with reading or learning, there may be an underlying vision problem. Parents and educators should be familiar with the symptoms of vision problems that interfere with learning:
- Headaches when reading
- Slow or incomplete copy work from board or paper
- Avoidance of reading
- Poor reading comprehension
- Frequent loss of place while reading
- Short attention span
- Smart in everything but school
- Working below potential
- Letter and number reversal
- Poor spelling ability
- Difficulty learning letters and numbers
- This is even more common because the demand has increased for kindergarten students, who are expected to read at this level.
Does your child:
- Omit or substitute small words (like "of" for "for", or "if" for "of," etc.)?
- Become frustrated when trying to read or do homework?
- Take much longer doing his/her homework than it should?
- Have trouble making out words?
- Slow when copying or make many errors?
- Find it harder to read at the end of the day than in the morning?
- Skip words or repeat lines when reading out loud to you?
- Reverse letters like b's into d's when reading?
- Have a short attention span with schoolwork?
Some physical symptoms parents should aware of that may signal a problem include:
- Double vision
- Blurry vision
- Eye strain/pain
- Motion/car sickness
- Rubbing eyes
What does an eye doctor check for in a comprehensive pediatric eye exam?
A comprehensive eye exam tests more than visual acuity. Parents frequently say: ‘But the doctor said his vision was fine’. Vision is so much more than just distance "20/20” acuity.
In addition to checking eye health and acuity, the doctor should know to check binocular function and refraction.
What's the difference between the pediatrician's vision screening and a professional eye exam from an eye doctor?
One of the common misconceptions is that the pediatrician’s screening is a full eye exam. Pediatricians are excellent at what they do when treating children for medical conditions; colds, ear infections, inoculations, etc.
Children use digital devices in school but they are not being tested at near. Screenings often do not test visual skills needed for the classroom. The essential eyecare benefit under the Affordability Care Act covers all children under 18 and emphasizes the need for children to see an optometrist as soon as possible.